While Gollum might not always be the first character who comes to mind when discussing The Lord of the Rings, he is just as central to Tolkien’s world as Frodo, Aragorn, or Gandalf. Gollum incites complex, layered emotions in the audience, from fear to anger to pity, but he’s also the character that spawned the slew of “precious” jokes. Read on to discover more about the sad, twisted hobbit behind the mystery.
24. Rock On
Gollum is referenced in Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” (1969). In the song, Gollum and Sauron are fighting over the singer’s girlfriend, instead of the One Ring. Led Zeppelin also reference J.R.R. Tolkien’s work in 1971’s “Misty Mountain Hop,” a nod to the Misty Mountains, a setting in The Hobbit.
23. Aging Gracefully
Gollum is estimated to be about 589 years old by the time of his death. Gollum’s life was extended due to prolonged exposure to the One Ring. It seems like all the other side-effects probably weren’t worth it though.
22. Kindred Spirits
Like Sam and Frodo, Gollum was a hobbit. More specifically, he was a Stoor, one of the three races of Hobbits. The other two are the Harfoots and the Fallohides. Stoors were known for their stocky builds. They inhabited swampy areas and were the only Hobbits who could regularly grow facial hair. Originally known as Smeagol, he became Gollum when he was corrupted by the One Ring.
21. The Start of Something Special
Prior to bringing Gollum to life in The Lord of the Rings, the film industry rarely used motion capture. To bring Gollum to the screen, actor Andy Serkis wore a grey unitard adorned with small sensors, which captured his movements and facial expressions and relayed them to computers. His presence and movements could then be used as a direct reference for the CGI creations instead of starting from scratch, creating more fluid movement and more realistic looking creations. This technology has since been used in films like Avatar, and even video games like The Last of Us.
20. Inspiration Everywhere
Serkis’s performance as Gollum has inspired other actors since. Sam Worthington, in his role as FBI profiler James “Fitz” Fitzgerald in Manhunt: Unabomber, has said of his work on the film, “I wanted to be like Gollum. So I kept saying to [director] Greg [Yaitanes], ‘This is Gollum! He wants the ring! The ring is the information.’ I kept playing it like Gollum.”
19. Addicted to You
Writer Venkatesh Rao published an article called “The Gollum Effect” analyzing how Gollum’s behavior mirrors that of an archetypal addict who has become a shell of their former self due to their addiction. Rao applies this addiction to other figures, and also examines how Gollum is a high-functioning addict since the ring doesn’t kill him prematurely and keeps him functioning enough to be “usefully employable.”
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