If you remember back in Fall 2013, and you have a better memory than I do if you do, we reported that a J.R.R. Tolkien biopic was in the works. It was tentatively titled Tolkien then, a title that it keeps as Fox Searchlight has unveiled the cast, release date, and official synopsis. It was previously reported that the picture would examine the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings author’s life, focusing on his formative years at Pembroke College and as a soldier in World War I, and how those events influenced his work. The synopsis has a few more details now, but the core of the idea remains the same.
Previous comparisons as to the tone of the biopic were made to the Oscar-winning J.M. Barrie life story, Finding Neverland and John Lee Hancock’s look at Walt Disney and P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks, though with the benefit of hindsight, Tolkien might be closer to recent biopic Goodbye Christopher Robin. That picture, which delved into dark territory at times, focused on Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne and his son, though it also drew from Milne’s traumatic military experiences. A previous attempt at a Tolkien biopic was initiated with Mirkwood, but the author’s estate obstructed the project; let’s hope they’re on board this time around.
Directed by Dome Karukoski (Tom of Finland), written by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford, Tolkien is produced by Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, David Ready, and Kris Thykier, and stars Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, Tom Glynn-Carney, Craig Roberts, Laura Donnelly, Genevieve O’Reilly, Pam Ferris, and Derek Jacobi. Look for the Fox Searchlight and Chernin Entertainment production in theaters starting May 10th.
Here’s the official synopsis:
Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the “Fellowship” apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-earth novels.