Why Sean Astin Was Nervous About The First Lord Of The Rings Movie

Samwise in Lord of The Rings

As far as overall scope, there are few film properties quite as grand as Peter Jackson's The Lord of The Rings franchise. Adapted from the beloved J.R.R. Tolkien novels, Jackson's trilogy were cultural events of the 2000's that garnered mass acclaim and box office numbers. And while they're still revered by moviegoers today, there was a time when their success wasn't certain. The Fellowship of The Ring had a massive budget of $93 million, so it had the potential to really tank if it didn't resonate with audiences. Actor Sean Astin played Samwise Gamgee in the trilogy, and recently spoke to the risk attached to Peter Jackson's original film. He said,

I think when you took a look at the costumes and the sets and the swords and you saw the scope of it, I don't think there was ever any doubt that what we're making was spectacular and really special and important. What you didn't know was whether or not it would be a box office success. And, in a very important way, the success of the first film allowed them to go and make huge adjustments to the second and third film like that. So if the first film had come out and not performed, the second and third films would have been totally different movies.

The Lord of The Rings ended up being film royalty, but it had the potential to fail hard given its massive budget. One bad movie was all it would've taken to wreck plans for the rest of the trilogy, and therefore cutting Sean Astin's tenure as Sam. And really, what would LOTR be without all of his knowing looks to Frodo in the sequels?

Sean Astin's comments come from his conversation with io9, reminiscing about his various iconic film and TV roles. Astin's Samwise is a fan favorite character, as he was the heart of the franchise, as well as Frodo's long journey to Mount Doom. We watched him advocate for his friend time and time again, going up against the fiercest of foes in order to destroy The Ring. And while he was charming and sweet in The Fellowship of The Ring, the character's true colors came out more in the following two sequels.

Ultimately Peter Jackson's iconic Lord of The Rings trilogy made oodles of money, grossing a total of $2,917,506,956 during its three movie international run in theaters. There were also countless video games, merchandise, and action figures to further boost overall gross. Eventually it was followed up by The Hobbit trilogy, which brought back actors like Ian McKellen and Orlando Bloom for another adventure in Middle Earth.

Sean Astin has been keeping busy in the years following 2003's The Return of the King. He's recently been doing a ton of TV work, with acclaimed runs in both The Strain and Netflix's Stranger Things. He'll next appear on the silver screen in Gloria. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.