Each role brings its own set of challenges, but playing a despicable figure from real life can be especially difficult. That's what Topher Grace had to deal with when he was cast as former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke in Black KkKlansman. It's no easy feat getting into the headspace of one of history's most famous white supremacists, so after his time on the Spike Lee movie was over, Grace decided to unwind and mentally distance himself from the Duke role by cutting together a two-hour version of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy. Grace voiced his thoughts on how The Hobbit adaptation should have been put together thusly:
I think that maybe The Hobbit should've been one movie, and many people would agree. Money drives a lot of those franchises. It's better when the art leads.
Backpedaling a little bit, Topher Grace recalled that he was "so depressed" while working on Black KkKlansman, not just because he was portraying David Duke, but because he would see on the news how Duke's ideology was affecting "us" in the present day. So after the movie finished filming, Grace turned his attention to the Hobbit trilogy . While each book in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy each received its own movie, The Hobbit, the novel that launched the Middle Earth mythology, was stretched out to three movies, a.k.a. 434 minutes of screen time. The end result was certainly a financial success, adding up to $2.9 billion worldwide, but critically, The Hobbit trilogy wasn't met with the same level of praise as the Lord of the Rings movies. Grace decided to piece together a "tighter" version of The Hobbit as a creative challenge, and it sounds like he was pleased with the end result. Continuing in his interview with Indiewire, the actor said:
I don't know what other guys do. Go fishing? For me, this is just a great way to relax. There's something really zen about it.
This isn't Topher Grace's first time editing together his own cut of a blockbuster franchise. Back in 2012, he made an 85-minute version of the Star Wars prequel trilogy and showed to some industry professionals before legal restrictions put the kibosh on future screenings. It's also worth noting that Grace isn't the first person to edit together a condensed version of The Hobbit, although the previous fan version released in 2015 was four hours long, making Grace's version an easier watch. Though if his experience with the Star Wars prequels cut is any indication, don't expect Grace to ever release his Hobbit cut to the public.
You can see David Duke in Black KkKlansman when it hits theaters on August 10. If you want to find out what other movies are coming out later this year, look through our 2018 release schedule. As for the Lord of the Rings franchise, it's time on the big screen is over, but an Amazon TV series that will explore new stories is in development.