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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Stars defend biopic after Tolkien family criticism

The director and stars of new biopic Tolkien have backed the film after the author’s family voiced their disapproval of it.

As recently reported in The Catholic Universe, the estate of JRR Tolkien issued a statement making it clear that the family ‘did not endorse it or its content in any way’.

However, speaking at the London premiere, its stars defended their work, saying the film respects and honours the author of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

Nicholas Hoult, who plays the writer, said he is a fan of Tolkien’s work and the feature based on his life was made “very respectfully”.

Lily Collins, playing the writer’s wife Edith Bratt, said the biopic is the “right honour”.

The Tolkien estate and his family released a statement on 23rd April saying ‘they did not approve of, authorise or participate in the making of this film’.

Despite the criticism, however, director Dome Karukoski said he stood by the film, which “was made with love and respect for Tolkien and his works.”

He added that he believes Tolkien himself would approve of the dramatic storytelling.

Karukoski admitted that not having family approval was “tricky”, however. He told the Press Association: “Well, they haven’t seen the film. It is a labour of love. It is done with respect and admiration for the professor.

“It’s a dramatic, beautiful, cinematic tale. It feels odd that a storyteller wouldn’t want that on the screen.

“I have offered to sit with the estate and talk, and explain why some artistic choices have been made. It’s a tricky one, but I would just love to watch the film with them.”

Hoult plays Tolkien in his younger days, faced with romance, flowering friendship and the horrors of the First World War – traumas and experiences that went on to dramatically shape his future work as an author.

The actor believes the story should be shared to inspire audiences.

He said: “I think it’s been done very respectfully, as a fan.

“It’s story that stands alone. Such a remarkable life – his relationships, what he endured in World War One. What inspired him, hopefully it will inspire new audiences now.”

Collins said she is also a fan of fantasy and the works of Tolkien, and relished playing the part of the author’s muse and future wife.

She praised the biopic and said fans of the author and the films based on his works should know the man behind the stories.

Collins said: “I believe that it’s an amazing story to tell. Everyone who sees the film agrees that we have to do honour to the man himself.

“To just know the stories would be a shame, to know the man himself is the right honour.”

No other project about the author’s life has made it to production, with the family of Tolkien understood to have consistently turned down approaches to them to make a biopic of his life.

Picture: Stars Lily Collins and Nicholas Hoult at the London premiere of Tolkien.