This has been a year of challenges and loss. Our collective experience of a global pandemic was peppered with losses in our intimate Tolkien community as well.
Today, on this last day of the year, we wish to take a moment to remember just a few of those in our community who left this earthly realm, and have found a far green country under a swift sunrise. Whether it was the patriarch of the entirety of Tolkien’s legacy, or the artist who created infamous cover art, they will all be missed – along with so many others who sailed into the West this year. We honour them all. Fare thee well!
As widely reported on March 31, Andrew Jack, the supervising dialect coach for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has passed from complications related to COVID-19. Reactions across film industry and fandom were immediately filled with shock and sadness, bringing home the importance of safety during this pandemic.
Andrew Jack was one of the most respected dialect coaches in Hollywood having worked on hundreds of films & shows including Star Wars, James Bond, MARVEL cinematic universe, and Batman. His crowning achievement may well be Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS in his capacity as senior supervising dialect coach, as he aligned all the various actors’ speech patterns into the cohesive dialects of Middle-earth.
Accents and dialects were a top concern of Ringer fans as LOTR began production in the year 2000, with online debates spilling into newspapers on whether the four hobbits – cast with actors from 3 different countries – would even sound the same. As we all know J.R.R. Tolkien himself was a philologist who made a career of language, and many fans have adopted his passion for linguistics. New Line Cinema realized how critically important the dialects would be to these films, they hired Hollywood’s expert dialect coach in Andrew Jack.
Ian Mckellen said at the time, in 2000, “Andrew Jack is following carefully Tolkien’s own instructions in his appendices to the novels.” When asked about pronouncing Saruman’s name, “We call him SAH – ru- mahn. I ran this answer past our pronunciation adviser Andrew Jack who adds: “It depends on who is saying it!”
Karl Urban (Eomer) was currently working with Andrew Jack for the second time on his Amazon series THE BOYS writing, “Andrew was such a gentle giant and a man who possessed such great generosity of spirit. He was extraordinarily talented, professional and an absolute joy to work with.”