One Cast to Rule Them All: A Diverse, Gender-Swapped LOTR Recast

This past weekend, my roommate and I were on a mission to rewatch the extended versions of The Lord of The Rings. (Let’s not talk about the three-part Hobbit right now, though, ok? I am still reeling.) As we watched, I remembered exactly how white and dudely LOTR is. It’s still one of my favorite book series and I’ve always thought the movies did justice to the books, but that doesn’t mean the cast couldn’t use a refresh. Now seemed like the perfect time for a diverse — and occasionally gender-swapped — recast.

Let’s start with the elves.LOTR Recast - Elves Michelle Yeoh (Sunshine, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) is a shoe-in for Galadriel, as she is beautiful, perfect, and regal in all ways. I can already see her in the swirling, iconic silhouette they gave Cate Blanchett. If you will just look at Lance Reddick (Fringe, The Wire), you will see that he is practically already part elf; he’s our Elrond. Lee Byung-hun (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) is clearly Legolas, and I will fight you about it if I have to.

The Riders of Rohan were also pretty easy to cast.

LOTR Recast - RohanJason Momoa is already a horse lord (thank you, Game of Thrones); we need look no further for our Eomer. Ken Watanabe (Inception, Batman Begins) has the gruff thoughtfulness I look for in my Theoden. And Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse, Sunday Punch), be-still our hearts, is capable of taking out a Nazgul on cheekbones alone — but also has mad skill with a blade.

Now we’re off to the no-longer-quite-so-white city of Minas Tirith in Gondor.

LOTR Recast - GondorAlessandro Juliani has already played an overlooked hero (thanks to Battlestar Galactica), and done Shakespeare for god’s sake. Faramir: check. Boromir was the first recast in my head, and he is Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes, Beauty and the Beast). Just look at that tortured, brooding nobility.

Now hang in with me here, because we’re about to take a sharper turn:

LOTR Recast - Gandalf, Aragorn, Arwen Indira Varma, of Game of Thrones and Rome — as Aragorn. Stalwart, a natural leader, dedicated, and not afraid to bring it on the battlefield; she has embodied all these qualities in her various roles. Give us a warrior queen to follow, and follow we shall. And then we have Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Luther) as Arwen, the heart and soul of our wandering heroine. Who wouldn’t live through the Battle of Helm’s Deep for him? And Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica, Dexter) is Gandalf, because obviously.

And what about our hobbit friends?

LOTR Recast - HobbitsYep. They’re all ladies. Arden Cho (Teen Wolf) is our Frodo: an innocent and exuberant spirit to start with, who shoulders more and more responsibility as the journey progresses. America Ferrera (Ugly Betty, Christine) is Sam, the rock of the group, loyal to a fault, and a hero in her own right. Merry and Pippin are, respectively, Diane Guerrero (Orange is the New Black) and Amandla Stenberg (Hunger Games); Diane is the slightly older and wiser, but still mischievous one, while Amandla is the impish youngest, always getting into trouble without ever really meaning to.

You might have noticed a few missing names; I couldn’t quite bring myself to recast Saruman or Gimli, because Christopher Lee and John Rhys-Davies are my personal favorites. Denethor, because I couldn’t quite find someone with as clear a penchant for insanity. And Celeborn — well, let’s be real here, does anyone care about Celeborn? Anyway!

I’d love to hear your suggestions; who’s in your recast?

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