‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Hunt For Gollum’: Everything We Know So Far

Even after Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 2 arrives, there will be more of Middle Earth to explore, particularly through the lens of Gollum’s perspective. Deadline unpacked where the franchise is heading with longtime collaborators Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to make more films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy work and the world founded on Peter Jackson’s original New Line trilogy of films, with one corresponding to each books.

“The Gollum/Sméagol character has always fascinated me because Gollum reflects the worst of human nature, whilst his Sméagol side is, arguably, quite sympathetic,” Jackson told Deadline. “I think he connects with readers and film audiences alike, because there’s a little bit of both of them in all of us. We really want to explore his backstory and delve into those parts of his journey we didn’t have time to cover in the earlier films. It’s too soon to know who will cross his path, but suffice to say we will take our lead from Professor Tolkien.”

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Andy Serkis’ Gollum, who was once a hobbit known as Sméagol, catalyzed the plot after he killed his friend, who found Sauron’s all-powerful ring in a lake and succumbed to the instrument’s corruption. Gollum unintentionally saved the world when he bit the ring off of Frodo’s invisible finger on Mount Doom in “The Return of the King.” His excitement hat having achieved this feat caused him to lose balance and fall into the fiery explosion there, taking the weapon — and Sauron’s consuming power — with him.

Read on for everything we know about The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum.

Who is creating The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum?

Jackson, alongside Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, took care to arrive at focusing this next foray into the fantasy realm with Gollum at the center. Walsh and Boyens will write the screenplay along with Phoebe Gittins and Arty Papageorgiou (who scripted the upcoming animated film Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim about the origins of Helm’s Deep). Jackson, Walsh and Boyens will produce the film, and the executive producers are Ken Kamins, with Serkis and The Imaginarium’s Jonathan Cavendish.

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Is Andy Serkis involved?

Yes, Serkis will not only reprise his role as Gollum (formerly Sméagol), but he will direct the movie as well.

“I was absolutely floored,” Serkis told Deadline of the moment he got the call to direct. “They have done this to me before, and this had the same effect as when I got the call telling me I was going to direct second unit on The Hobbit. I was preparing to shoot my first independent film, something with three actors in two locations. And then it was just like, do you want to come direct the second unit on the biggest films in the world? I’m very honored that they’ve asked me to come back. I really am. I love them as filmmakers because they are honest. They always go for the truth.”

The actor mentioned how the character has stuck with him ever since the original trilogy. He also hinted at how motion capture technology has improved in the two decades since he took on the role of Sméagol, and even after he appeared as Caesar in Matt Reeves’ Planet of the Apes trilogy.

Andy Serkis
Andy Serkis

“At that time, the motion capture technology back then was pretty much restricted to interior sets and it was just motion capture. Throughout the course of the evolution of the technology through the Apes movies, it changed,” Serkis said. “For instance, we were able to untether it from a volume and allow real performance capture, because in those three films, the first three films, the facial was all animated, copying my facial expressions. But it wasn’t driven by a performance capture, the delicacy and the nuance that was then able to be caught using head-mounted cameras. During the Apes movies is when the real experimentation began with going outdoors and shooting on location. And those are the big movies. And obviously Jim Cameron was working on his Avatar movies alongside Weta. They were pushing the nuances of facial performance with facial capture as well.”

Boyens teased that Serkis will have his own “interesting” take on the story.

“We don’t want this film to be is just the fourth film in the trilogy. This film has to work in its own way. And that’s our job,” she told Deadline. “That’s what we are going to have to be able to do. I know there’s plenty of people out there who will be like, oh no, why are they doing this? Why are they going back in? Well, that’s our job, to prove why we think that it’s a good idea.”

Will other Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit cast return to reprise their roles?

Serkis couldn’t say with any certainty, but this is a hope.

“I don’t want to commit anything right now. I mean, because it’s so raw and so raw and wriggling, and we are just literally having very early state script discussions and ideas of exactly where and how we’re going to drop anchor with the character and his journey and how he is or comes into contact with other characters, and the characters that we know and don’t know,” Serkis told Deadline. “I would hate to say anything that’s going to commit us at this point, because it’s literally all up for grabs.”

Will The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum also be a trilogy?

The new Middle Earth story will span two films.

Why Gollum?

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

“Gollum’s story is one of the most compelling to us in terms of a character that we couldn’t go as deeply into as we wanted to before, which sounds strange when you say that, given how familiar he is to everybody,” said. “Gollum’s life span takes place in such an interesting period of Middle-earth. When the question was first asked, this was the first story we thought of. Because I can tell you, and people might not believe this, but we had zero expectations of going back to this. It wasn’t something we were looking to do, particularly. So when the question was asked, it was, what would draw you back? And it was about working with the people we we’re working with. It was also about the chance to work with Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy at the studio. Alan Horn is now back at the studio. It just felt right.”

What else has Andy Serkis worked on?

Serkis has directed four films including 2017’s Breathe, 2018’s The Ruins of Empires and Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle as well as 2021’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage. He appeared as Kino Loy in Andor, Supreme Leader Snoke in two Star Wars films and Alfred Pennyworth in 2022’s The Batman. He portrayed Ulysses Klaue in Black Panther and voiced the character in Marvel’s What If…?

He’s wrapped production on his first animated feature of George Orwell’s Animal Farm penned by Nicholas Stoller. He served as Visual Effects Motion Capture EP on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. He will direct Nick Hornby’s adaptation of The Giant’s House.

Two upcoming projects in which he will star are the stage production Ulster American alongside Woody Harrelson and Derry Girls star Louisa Harland as well as the film The Man With The Miraculous Hands again alongside Harrelson.

Serkis’ production company The Imaginarium is developing The Wicker Man television series as well as The Monster Tale alongside South Korea’s Climax Studio.


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