Welcome to this months “Getting to know you” Q&A, this month we’re talking to the wonderful Royd Tolkien.
I received a lot of questions for Royd, which I have divided into three sections, reflecting peoples main areas of interest. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did conducting it. Cheers Kel x
Tolkien related questions
Kelvarhin: Have you read all of your great-grandfather’s Middle-earth related works?
Royd: Not everything, I’ve not read Unfinished Tales or the History of Middle-earth and I haven’t read The Silmarillion for ages so I’ll be picking that up next.
Kelvarhin: Which of your great-grandfather’s Middle-earth-related works is your favourite?
Royd: It’s got to be The Hobbit as it was my first journey into Middle-earth and takes me right back to my childhood. It’s right up there though with LotR because while The Hobbit opened my eyes, Rings hooked me.
Kelvarhin: How do you feel when you walk into a book store and see Tolkien on the shelf? Does it make you smile seeing people picking up books from that shelf and enjoying your great-grandfather’s work?
Royd: Totally, as well as when he’s mentioned on TV or in an article. I smile and let out an internal whoop!
Kelvarhin: When you were growing up were you aware of your great-grandfather’s legacy? Did other kids ask you about the stories?
Royd: When I was growing up he wasn’t as film-famous as he is now. I can’t recall anyone asking me about the stories, it was normally what football team you supported or who fancied who! As a family, we’ve always been involved with The Tolkien Society and when I was a kid they used to come up to our small farm in Wales for Summer Moots. They’d dress up as characters, camp in the field, sword flight, let off homemade fireworks and have huge campfires. The first awareness of the legacy came from those fun times.
Kelvarhin: How does it feel to be related to a legend?
Royd: Fab, humbling, privileged and proud.
Kelvarhin: You said in an interview that you read and fell in love with LotR at 11. What is your opinion on the LotR movies overall and do you think that Peter Jackson and his team did your great-grandfather justice and honoured his literary legacy?
Royd: When I first heard it was going to be done I thought it was an impossible mountain to climb, also because they were going to create an interpretation of a world so deeply and vehemently loved and cherished by so many people, which could be miles off the mark.
They’ve had and have an incredibly tough task adapting the books into films but it works so well because Peter, Fran, Philippa, Richard Taylor and all the team are fans and are dedicated to the finite details. Also there are very unique circumstances that evolved to make the films work so well and making them as rich as they are – the New Zealand landscapes, the can-do NZ attitude, the geographic distance between NZ and Hollywood and many other tiny events that brought it to screen.
To see how such a colossal film is so intricately crafted and pieced together is an inspiration.
Kelvarhin: How did you come to be an extra in ROTK; and did you get to choose your role?
Royd: It was while I was over there for a couple of weeks visiting during pickups. Peter thought it would be fun to put me in the film and it took me a nanosecond to say yes!
Kelvarhin: How uncomfortable was it to wear Gondorian armour?
Royd: I was a Gondorian Ranger so there was no armour but super comfortable leather and fabric.
Kelvarhin: What was it like wearing Viggo’s wig in The Return of the King?
Royd: I had short hair then and it felt so good that I then grew my hair!
Kelvarhin: If you could join any of the five armies in Bo5A which would it be?
Royd: My favourite character from The Hobbit is Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans nails him perfectly) so I’d be in the ranks of Lake-town.
Kelvarhin: Assuming that you’ve seen The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, what do you think of Peter Jackson’s treatment of the story so far, and especially, how do you feel about the newly introduced character of Tauriel?
Royd: I think it’s very brave of them to make three films. Of course it’s only natural to think that the films would be diluted and stretched out with superfluous material, but not so. It doesn’t dawdle and drag, it keeps you entertained throughout, especially when they add a brilliant character like Tauriel. Of course, there are areas of departure from the book but I don’t get hung up on that. If I want to go back to the world in it’s purest form, then I’ll read the book.
Kelvarhin: I’ve heard you have your own production company can you tell us about anything that you currently have in development?
Royd: I’m working on a couple of things now, the main one is called ‘There’s a Hole in my Bucket’.
My younger brother, Mike, has unfortunately got Motor Neurone Disease (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) which is an awful, aggressive, terminal condition that’s taken away his ability to do everyday normal things we all take for granted. This is especially difficult for Mike as he was so active and a real adrenalin junkie… which is the complete opposite to me! Mike has always wanted to go to Queenstown (NZ) as it’s the adrenalin capital of the world. He’s in a wheelchair now and very frail, so he’s challenged me to do his bucket list and face my fears as he’s facing his.
It’s given me a rock solid resolve to do anything to take his mind off his situation and to enjoy as many new experiences, gather new memories and, most importantly, do whatever I can to make him smile during our time together. I would run down the street naked, tattoo a sailor on my chest and shave my hair off, anything for that smile. Unfortunately for me, he knows this and will be taking full advantage of the situation, as I would!
As his big brother I have a duty to look after and protect him and being told you’re absolutely powerless to help as your brother becomes very ill, very quickly has been hard to come to terms with and difficult to accept. But however difficult it is for me, it’s nothing compared to what Mike is dealing with daily.
The illness has gripped him tight, and we know that it won’t let him go, but it will not pull him away from me without a fight, so we’re linking arms and pulling back as hard as we can and facing this head on together. It will also importantly raise awareness of a seriously under funded disease.
Kelvarhin: What is your favourite genre of literature and why? And which book could you not live without?
Royd: I’ve got a mixed bag of taste really, the last book I read was The Princess Bride which is one of my favourite films, I’d also recommend anything by Neil Gaiman, particularly Neverwhere or The Graveyard Book. I’ve also got a stack of wild food/foraging books that I’m always picking up. I guess if I had to choose it would be one of my foraging books.
Kelvarhin: What kind of music do you like to listen to the most?
Royd: I didn’t know but I’ve just checked on my iTunes most played and it’s Ben Howard, Lorde and Ice-T!
Kelvarhin: Where all in the world have you visited, and do you have a most favourite/least favourite place?
Royd: Wales is a glorious place to visit but as I live here I won’t choose that! Joint first would have to go to New Zealand and Norway. I go camping with a group of friends every year in Norway and can’t get enough of it and NZ is so dreamy and perfect.
I haven’t been anywhere that I didn’t like.
Kelvarhin: If you were to take people out to dinner, where would you go, and what would you be most likely to order?
Royd: The first thing that came to mind is a pub near me called The Druid. They do a ridiculous Sunday roast.
There’s also the Chocolate Fish Café, in Shelly Bay, 10 minutes out of Wellington. It’s a superb fish barbeque café in NZ. It’s the first place I visit to get a fix!
Kelvarhin: You have been so great to join us for our conventions and parties in the past. You always made them so much fun! This year marks TORn’s 15th Anniversary in April. Would you like to come join us for our online celebration on the Message Boards? And maybe again for our 20th?
Royd: Sure would 🙂
And one just for fun (somehow I think MrCere will be very interested in this one 😉 )
Kelvarhin: Who would win in a fight – the talking purse or the thinking fox?
Royd: Is this a question like Mornington Crescent is a game?! Righto, you’d think a talking purse is going to be mostly useless but if a purse can talk that’s nothing to be sniffed at. It’s a purse. It can talk. So it would surely kick the arse of a fox that just thinks!
I’d like to thank Royd for taking part this month, it has been truly wonderful chatting to you! You can follow Royd on Twitter via his Twitter feed @roydtolkien
As always a big thank you to all our message board regulars, DanielLB, dernwyn, SirDennisC, Escapist, demnation, elaen32, Eruvandi, RangerLady23, Ataahua, Otaku-sempai and grammaboodawg, and Staffers, Quickbeam and J.W. for our questions this month.
Till next time from TORn’s resident Tiger.