Director Peter Jackson breathes life into J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic high fantasy adventure novel about Middle-earth, with the film series. Take a trip with Entertainism where we highlight the main characters in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and talk about how each of these characters were vital to the story.
Did You Know?
J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” is not a trilogy, but in fact, is a novel divided internally into 6 books, and various appendices with additional information. The reason many are misinformed because the novel is often published in three volumes. As paper was expensive and scarce at the time, the publisher made the decision to publish the novel in three volumes.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is based on the novel written by J. R. R. Tolkien. And it was director Peter Jackson and his team who brought the fictional world of Middle-earth to life. With three films subtitled―The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, it took them eight years to complete the entire project, along with simultaneously filming all three installments in New Zealand.
Even though it has been over 13 years since the release of the first installment, the LOTR fans all across the world still can’t get enough of it. So, as a tribute to the franchise and its fans, we decided to give you a list of main characters in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. As you go through the list below, you will see that apart from the main characters that appear in all the three installments, we have also mentioned the principal or supporting characters from each installment. This is because without these characters, the story of Middle-earth would not have moved forward.
List of Main Characters
Character – Frodo Baggins
Frodo Baggins is a hobbit who lives in the Shire with his uncle, Bilbo Baggins. He inherits the One Ring from his uncle which he, along with eight companions, sets out to destroy in the fires of Mount Doom.
Portrayed by – Elijah Wood
“I will take the Ring to Mordor! [pause] Though… I do not know the way.”
― Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring
► Unlike the movies, the books mention that Frodo doesn’t start his quest until 17 years after inheriting the One Ring.
Character – Gandalf the Grey
Gandalf the Grey is a wizard who is the possessor of one of the three Elven rings, Narya, is a member of the Istari (Wise Ones) order, and the leader of the Fellowship of the Ring and the army of the West.
Portrayed by – Ian McKellen
“A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.”
― Gandalf the Grey, Fellowship of the Ring
► Gandalf’s original name was “Olórin”. Apart from being known as Gandalf the Grey in the Fellowship of the Ring, he is reborn as Gandalf the White in the The Two Towers. His other names are “Tharkun” and “Mithrandir”.
Character – Arwen
Arwen, also called “Evenstar” and “Arwen Undómiel”, is an immortal Elf and daughter of Elrond Half-elven, and granddaughter of Galadriel. She is in love with Aragorn, and chooses a mortal life in order to be with him, a mortal man, once the War of the Ring is over.
Portrayed by – Liv Tyler
“This was my choice… ada, whether by your will or not, there is no ship now that can bear me hence.”
― Arwen, The Return of the King
► Arwen was over 2700 years old when she first met Aragorn in Rivendell.
Character – Aragorn
Aragorn, also known as “Elessar” and “Strider”, is the heir of Isildur, and the rightful claimant to the throne of Gondor. He leads the Fellowship of the Ring after the fall of Gandalf the Grey. And when the Fellowship is broken, he along with Legolas and Gimli continue on the quest to destroy the One Ring, and eventually defeat Sauron.
Portrayed by – Viggo Mortensen
“This day does not belong to one man but to all. Let us together rebuild this world that we may share in the days of peace.”
― Aragorn, The Return of the King
► Viggo Mortensen’s character is thrown from a cliff after being attacked by Saruman’s Warg riders. Although the scene is that Aragorn is supposed to float down the river, Viggo Mortensen nearly drowned while filming the scene.
Character – Legolas
Legolas Greenleaf is a Sindar Elf of the Woodland Realm who comes to the Council of Elrond in Rivendell, with a message from his father. However, in the great meeting, he volunteers to become one of the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring.
Portrayed by – Orlando Bloom
“The stars are veiled. Something stirs in the East. A sleepless malice. The eye of the enemy is moving. He is HERE.”
― Legolas, The Return of the King
► While filming the arrow-shooting scenes, some of the arrows were computer-generated as Orlando Bloom couldn’t fire them as fast as an Elf would.
Character – Samwise “Sam” Gamgee
Samwise Gamgee is a hobbit of the Shire, and Frodo Baggin’s gardener and best friend. He undertakes the difficult and challenging journey with Frodo, becoming his loyal and dependable companion during the quest. He also plays a pivotal role in helping Frodo destroy the One Ring.
Portrayed by – Sean Astin
“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”
― Sam, The Two Towers
► Described by Gollum as the “fat hobbit”, Sam is the only Ring-bearer who has willingly given up the One Ring without any hesitations.
Character – Gimli
A well-respected dwarf warrior in Middle-earth, Gimli volunteers to become a member of the Fellowship of the Ring. He is the only dwarf who willingly fights alongside Elves in the War of the Ring.
Portrayed by – John Rhys-Davies
“I cannot jump the distance, you’ll have to toss me. [pauses, looks up at Aragorn]
Don’t tell the elf.”
― Gimli, The Fellowship of the Ring
► All nine Fellowship cast members, except for John Rhys-Davies, got the Elvish symbol for number nine as a tattoo. His stunt double, however, did get the tattoo instead.
Character – Peregrin “Pippin” Took
Pippin is a hobbit of the Shire who follows his friends Frodo, Sam, and Merry, first to Rivendell, and then to accompany the Fellowship as the ninth member. After being separated from the Fellowship, Pippin along with Merry convince Treebeard to attack Saruman at Isengard.
Portrayed by – Billy Boyd
“I don’t want to be in a battle. But waiting on the edge of one I can’t escape is even worse.”
― Pippin, The Return of the King
► Pippin is eight years younger than Merry, and hence, a lot younger than Frodo. And Frodo is Pippin’s second cousin, once removed.
Character – Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck
One of the nine companions of the Fellowship of the Ring, Merry is a hobbit of the Shire, one of Frodo’s closest friends, and Pippin’s best friend. Even though he’s mischievous and a troublemaker, Merry proves that he is courageous when he accompanies and helps Éowyn slay the Witch-king of Angmar at the great battle of Minas Tirith.
Portrayed by – Dominic Monaghan
“Don’t you understand? The enemy thinks you have the Ring. He’s going to be looking for you, Pip. They have to get you out of here.”
― Merry, The Return of the King
► Before Frodo and Sam decided to leave the Shire, Merry was aware of the existence of the One Ring and its power.
Character – Elrond
Elrond is Lord of Rivendell and Arwen’s father. He was with Isildur when he failed to destroy the One Ring; and hence, has a low opinion of men. In the beginning, he is reluctant to help in the fight against Sauron, but then joins the alliance of men and Elves, sends his army to defend Rohan against Saruman’s army of Uruk-hai at Helm’s Deep, and reforges Isildur’s sword for Aragorn.
Portrayed by – Hugo Weaving
“Nine companions. So be it. You shall be the fellowship of the ring.”
― Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring
► Elrond had a twin brother, Elros who chose the Fate of Men at the end of the First Age; he became the first King of Númenor. This makes Elrond Aragorn’s really, really, really, really distant ancestor.
Character – Galadriel
One of the greatest of the Eldar in Middle-earth, Lady Galadriel is far more beautiful, knowledgeable, and powerful than anyone. She is also the bearer of one of the three Elven rings, Nenya. Before the Fellowship departed, she gives something to each member―Gimli gets three of her hair strands, Sam gets a Mallorn seed and a small box of earth from her garden, Aragorn is presented with a green stone set in silver, Boromir gets a golden belt and an elven-cloak, Merry and Pippin get a golden belt and a knife each, Legolas gets a short, stout bow of the Galadhrim, and Frodo gets the light of Eärendil.
Portrayed by – Cate Blanchett
“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
― Galadriel, The Fellowship of the Rings
► The light of Eärendil isn’t just a star, but is also Elrond’s father.
Character – Saruman the White
The former chief of the wizards and the White Council that opposed Sauron, Saruman the White was a member of the Istari order before his downfall. His incessant hunger for power and his deep study of the One Ring corrupted him. After being seduced by the evil power of Sauron, Saruman lost his title as the white wizard, and claimed the title “Saruman of the Many Colours”.
Portrayed by – Christopher Lee
“We must join with Him, Gandalf. We must join with Sauron. It would be wise, my friend.”
― Saruman, The Fellowship of the Ring
► In The Two Towers, we see Gandalf the White confronting Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli in Fangorn forest. To create a little tension, Peter Jackson decided to paste Christopher Lee’s eyes and blend his voice to make the audience think that it might be Saruman.
Character – Sauron
Sauron―the Lord of the Rings, the creator of the One Ring, trusted lieutenant of his master Morgorth (the Dark Lord), and a fallen Maia. After Morgorth’s defeat in the First Age, Sauron rose to power and became the second Dark Lord. Along with other Elves, he forged the Rings of Power―the Nine and the Seven. The Nine were given to Kings of Men (powerful kings, sorcerers, and warriors of old), and the Seven were given to various Dwarf-lords. (It was Celebrimbor who made the Three without Sauron’s assistance; and hence, remained untarnished by his evil touch.) After returning to Mordor, Sauron forged the One Ring in Mount Doom that ruled over all other Rings and their powers.
Through the trilogy, the Eye also known as the Red Eye, the Evil Eye, the Lidless Eye, and the Great Eye, is associated with Sauron. According to Aragorn, Sauron was always referred to as the “Eye”, because he didn’t allow anyone to write or utter his name; the Mouth of Sauron was the only exception to it.
Portrayed by – Sala Baker
“You cannot hide. I see you. There is no life in the void. Only death.”
― Sauron, The Fellowship of the Ring
► Before he was corrupted, Sauron’s original name was “Mairon”.
Character – Nazgûl
The Nazgûl are also known as Ringwraiths, the Servants of Sauron, Black Riders, Dark Riders, the Nine Riders, and the Nine Servants of the Lord of the Rings. They are Kings of Men who possess the Nine―the Rings of Power. After the One Ring was forged, they all became Sauron’s slaves, and then his chief lieutenants. Throughout the Second and Third ages, they have been the ring-bound servants of Sauron in Middle-earth.
List of Principal Characters
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Character – Boromir
Boromir, eldest son of Denethor II, is an extremely brave and headstrong warrior of Gondor, but is also hot-tempered, greedy, and envious. Even though he joined the Fellowship that was formed to keep Frodo safe and destroy the One Ring, Bormir disagreed with their decision and wanted to take the Ring to Gondor instead. Through their course from Parth Galen, Boromir succumbs to the One Ring’s temptation and tries to seize the Ring for himself.
Portrayed by – Sean Bean
“One does not simply walk into Mordor.”
― Boromir, The Fellowship of the Ring
► While shooting in the mountains of New Zealand, Sean Bean would hike everyday to the set in his full Boromir armor. Why? Because he has a fear of flying and would not ride in the helicopter that was provided for transportation.
Character – Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit of the Shire who was one of the bearers of the One Ring for 60 years. After he puts on the Ring and disappears from his own farewell birthday party, Gandalf finds and confronts Bilbo in his house, and asks him to give up the Ring.
Portrayed by – Ian Holm
“I am sorry I brought this upon you, my boy. I’m sorry that… you must carry this burden. I’m sorry for everything.”
― Bilbo, The Fellowship of the Ring
► At Rivendell, the shot where Bilbo almost attacks Frodo for the One Ring is taken by morphing Ian Holm and a scary rubber puppet together.
Character – Isildur
Isildur is the High King of Gondor and Arnor, and during the War of the Last Alliance in the Second Age, he was the one who cut the One Ring off Sauron’s finger. He accompanies Elrond into Mount Doom, where he is supposed to throw the Ring into the fire, he refuses him and leaves Elrond there.
Portrayed by – Harry Sinclair
Character – Haldir
Haldir is an Elf of Lothlórien and a marchwarden who guards the forest’s northern borders. For the battle of Helm’s Deep, Elrond sends Haldir with an army of three hundred Elves from Lothlórien. After the Walls were destroyed and breached by a bomb, he was attacked by two Uruks. Although he killed them both, one Uruk stabbed him in the stomach that killed him.
Portrayed by – Craig Parker
“The dwarf breathes so loud, we could have shot him in the dark.”
― Haldir, The Fellowship of the Ring
► As Haldir would often travel out of Lothlórien, he was fluent in the Common Tongue; and hence, could interact with the Fellowship.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Character – Éomer
Éomer is a man of Rohan, who along with his sister, Éowyn was adopted by his uncle King Théoden. He first appears in The Two Towers after attacking and killing the Uruk-hai who had kidnapped Merry and Pippin.
Portrayed by – Karl Urban
“Look for your friends. But do not trust to hope. It has forsaken these lands.”
― Éomer, The Two Towers
► After seeing Karl Urban in a critically-acclaimed indie film The Price of Milk, Peter Jackson decided to cast him as the fierce warrior, Éomer.
Character – King Théoden
The 17th King of Rohan, Théoden was being mislead by his chief adviser Gríma Wormtongue, until Gandalf the White helped him in resisting Saruman. Under Gandalf’s advice, with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli’s help, and the battalion of Elves led by Haldir, Théoden fought against Saruman’s army of Uruk-hai at Helm’s Deep.
Portrayed by – Bernard Hill
“When last I looked, Théoden, not Aragorn, was king of Rohan.”
― Théoden, The Two Towers
► In The Return of the King, King Théoden is aware that Éowyn is present at the Battle of Pelennor Fields. In the book, however, Théoden is not aware that it is Éowyn who slays the Witch-king, and says his farewells to Merry instead.
Character – Éowyn
A noblewoman and a shieldmaiden of Rohan, Éowyn is Éomer’s sister and Théoden’s niece. As they travel to Helm’s Deep, her affection for Aragorn keeps growing from within. All her life, she has been searching for an opportunity to prove herself in battle. She finds this opportunity by disguising herself as a man and secretly joining the Rohirrim army, along with Merry, and rides to Minas Tirith. After the Witch-king of Angmar kills King Théoden in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Merry stabs him from behind, whereas Éowyn slays him.
Portrayed by – Miranda Otto
“I am no man.”
― Éowyn, The Return of the King
► Prior to choosing Australian actress Miranda Otto, the role of Éowyn was offered to the Irish actress Alison Doody. However, Doody had to turn down the role as she was pregnant at the time.
Character – Gríma Wormtongue
Chief advisor of King Théoden, Gríma Wormtongue was an agent and spy sent by Saruman. Once Gandalf the White breaks Saruman’s spell on Théoden, he banishes Gríma. Gríma then flees to Orthanc where he informs Saruman about Théodred’s plan of going to Helm’s Deep, and informs him of the flaw in the outer wall.
Portrayed by – Brad Dourif
“Late is the hour in which this conjurer chooses to appear. Lathspell I name him. Ill news is an ill guest.”
― Gríma, The Two Towers
► While filming the latter two installments, Brad Dourif had to shave off his eyebrows 5 times to play the role of Gríma Wormtongue.
Character – Gollum/Sméagol
Before becoming Gollum, he was known as Sméagol, a Stoor Hobbit of the River-folk. He gets corrupted after possessing the One Ring, and refers to it as “my precious”. His life is increased beyond the natural limits because of the Ring. Ever since he loses the Ring in the Misty Mountains, he had been trying to find it for years. (This is when Bilbo Baggins finds it.) Although in The Fellowship of the Ring, it is shown that Gollum is following the Fellowship, he makes a full-fledged appearance in The Two Towers when he attacks Frodo and Sam on their journey to Mordor.
Portrayed by – Andy Serkis
“We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false!”
― Gollum, The Two Towers
► Gollum is a CGI character where actor Andy Serkis has provided the voice for Gollum, along with providing the facial features and performance. Andy Serkis also plays the role of Sméagol in The Return of the King.
Character – Faramir
Faramir, captain of the Ithilien Rangers, is Boromir’s younger brother. It is the Rangers of Ithilien who capture Frodo, Sam, and Gollum. Once Faramir finds out that Frodo has the One Ring, he orders to send it to Gondor. However, after being attacked by a Nazgûl in Osgiliath, he frees Frodo, Sam, and Gollum to complete their journey.
Portrayed by – David Wenham
“If I should return, think better of me, Father.”
― Faramir, The Return of the King
► Among a few other actors, David Wenham got to give voice of Faramir in the video game The Return of the King.
Character – Treebeard
Also known as Fangorn, Treebeard is one of the oldest of the Ents in Middle-earth. He is a shepherd of trees who meets Merry and Pippin after they escape into Fangorn forest. In the forest, Treebeard along with Merry and Pippin hold a council with other Ents to decide whether or not they should go to war with Saruman. Although the Ents have never taken any sides, supporting neither good or evil, after seeing the devastation left behind by Saruman’s orcs, he gets angry and gathers other Ents to attack Saruman.
Voice by – John Rhys-Davies
“They have business with the Orcs. My business is with Isengard tonight, with rock and stone.
[Ents emerge from the woods, following Treebeard]
Hroom, hm, come, my friends. The Ents are going to war. It is likely that we go to our doom. The last march of the Ents.”
― Treebeard, The Two Towers
► Treebeard was made possible by combining a large animatronic model and CGI, with John Rhys-Davies as the voice actor.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Character – Denethor II
Denethor, Steward of Gondor is the father of Boromir and Faramir. He goes into depression and is overwhelmed by grief after hearing the news about Boromir’s death. Once Sauron’s armies arrive at the gates of the White City (Minas Tirith), he descends into madness and believes that all has failed. In this madness, he tries to burn himself along with an injured, yet alive Faramir on a funeral pyre.
Portrayed by – John Noble
“No tomb for Denethor and Faramir. No long, slow sleep of death embalmed. We shall burn, like the heathen kings of old. Bring wood and oil.”
― Denethor, The Return of the King
► For the role of Denethor, John Noble says that he enjoyed filming the scenes with Billy Boyd as Pippin more than with David Wenham as Faramir. The reason is that he didn’t have to shout or pretend to be angry with Billy Boyd.
Character – King of the Dead
Originally known as King of the Mountains, in Second Age, the King of the Dead and his men used to serve and worship Sauron. And after finding Gondor, he made an oath to Isildur that he would fight on his side. However, Isildur cursed him and his army when they did not fulfill the oath. In The Return of the King, Aragorn, heir of Isildur, summons them and orders them to fulfill their oath. And once the oath is fulfilled, Aragorn promises to set them free.
Portrayed by – Paul Norell
“The dead do not suffer the living to pass.”
― The King of the Dead, The Return of the King
Character – Witch-king of Angmar a.k.a. Lord of the Nazgûl
The Witch-king is Sauron’s chief servants, and second-in-command. Although a king once, after receiving one of the Nine Rings of Power, he was corrupted and became an undead faithful servant of Sauron.
Portrayed by – Lawrence Makoare
“Do not come between a Nazgûl and his prey.”
― Witch-king of Angmar, The Return of the King
► In Fellowship of the Ring, it is New Zealand actor Brent McIntyre who portrays the Witch-king of Angmar in his twilight form. In The Return of the King, it is New Zealand actor Lawrence Makoare who portrays the Witch-king of Angmar. And in both movies, he is voiced by Andy Serkis.
While making the movie, there were many characters that were cut from the storyline. Apart from this, some elements from the books were either shortened or removed completely. It is a humongous task to condense such an in-depth novel into 3, three-hour films.