In yet another effort to raise proceeds for COVID-19 relief efforts, Josh Gad has returned to YouTube with his much-beloved series Reunited Apart, in which he hosts reunions for the cast and crew from select films or franchises each week via Zoom.
This time around, the American actor invited many of the key players behind the success of world-renowned Lord of the Rings film series.
The livestream, which doubled as a fundraiser, took place on Sunday afternoon and saw the stars — including Elijah Wood and Sir Ian McKellen — telling stories about the film, sharing some of their favourite memories, re-enacting classic scenes and reciting some of the franchise’s most iconic lines all while raising money for the No Kid Hungry foundation.
Kicking things off in what he’s called “One Zoom to rule them all,” Gad, 39, first treated fans of the fantasy franchise with a visit from Sean Astin, who is best known for playing Samwise Gamgee in all three movies.
Astin, 49, also appeared in the first episode of Gad’s Reunited Apart series, which focused on the 1985 kids’ classic The Goonies.
After being asked what he thought of the idea of a reunion, Wood — who starred as Frodo Baggins in the early 2000s films — signed onto the call as well, with a big grin on his face.
It wasn’t long after that Dominic Monaghan (who played Merry), Billy Boyd (Pippin) and Orlando Bloom (Legolas) all made an appearance.
“Hey guys, sorry about (the wait),” said Bloom, 43. “I just had to find a mirror, just to take a quick glance and remind myself that I am, in fact, Orlando Bloom.”
The quintet continued to joke that they were “always on a Zoom call together.”
“Katy just has to remind me to turn the Zoom off in bed,” quipped Bloom, 43, referring to his pop star fiancée Katy Perry.
McKellen, who is commended highly for his portrayal of Gandalf in the series, was next to join in on the fun.
“I remember when we all said goodbye 30 years ago … that we were going to have regular reunions. Have you been having these reunions without me?” joked the 81-year-old actor.
As a surprise to the rest of the cast, director, and “mastermind,” Peter Jackson followed suit, along with Philippa Boyens — who worked as a head screenwriter on the film franchise beside Jackson’s longtime wife Fran Walsh.
Gad later asked the cast and crew about their “infamous tattoos,” which the nine leading actors of Jackson’s trilogy got before the premiere of the Fellowship of the Ring (2001).
The inked inscriptions read “nine,” in the Elvish language — which was originally penned by the long-deceased writer of The Lord of the Rings (and Hobbit) novels, J.R.R. Tolkien.
“Elijah, I know where you have yours,” said McKellen — whose tattoo is on the back of his right shoulder. “I was holding your hand all the way through,” he joked.
Wood, 39, proceeded to pull his trousers down, only slightly, to reveal the miniature tattoo near his groin.
McKellen later highlighted that “You shall not pass” line — one of the, perhaps, most memorable and quoted lines in the entire trilogy — was written by Boyens and Frans, rather than Tolkien.
The original line in the novel was actually ‘You will not pass,” according to Boyens.
Jackson, 58, then commended Viggo Mortenson’s son Henry for talking him into playing the role of Aragorn, as he was reportedly a big fan of Tolkien.
“Viggo’s son was saying, ‘Do it, Dad, do it, Dad’ … Henry is the true hero of the story and not Aragorn,” joked the Oscar-winning director.
“I am grateful to Henry, but he is kind of a pain in the a–,” joked Mortenson, 61, on getting the role, as he joined the star-studded Zoom call along with legendary voice actor and motion-capture artist Andy Serkis (Gollum/Sméagol).
Sean Bean, the Sheffield-born actor, best known for Boromir, later joined the call, along with Miranda Otto (Éowyn), Liv Tyler (Arwen) and John Rhys-Davies — who played both Gimli and Treebeard.
Similar to how he has in previous episodes of Reunited Apart — including the extremely popular Back to the Future reunion — Gad had many of the cast members reciting lines from some of the films’ most iconic scenes.
Composer Howard Shore was later invited to the call for fans to talk about creating the much-beloved score for the Lord of the Rings films.
As a final treat for fans, Gad had fellow-New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi make a guest appearance to ask the cast and crew some brain-busting trivia questions about the fantasy franchise — including who voiced the Ringwraiths.
The answer, to the bubbly host’s surprise, was Fran.
Towards the end of the call, Gad asked each of his “fellowship” what The Lord of the Rings means to them. Wood simply said “family and fellowship.”
“There was nothing better in my life than coming to New Zealand and seeing that country and its people,” said McKellen.
“When I meet little kids who weren’t even born when we made those films, and can have a relationship with them, it’s an absolute blessing to me,” he added.
As a grand finale, Boyd, 51, was asked to sing the heartfelt Edge of Night song from The Return of the King (2003).
“It makes me cry,” he admitted of the song after singing it again, more than 15 years later.
On top of the organization receiving a US$1.3 million donation from Cheerios, Gad encouraged not only the Lord of the Rings cast and crew to donate money towards No Kid Hungry, but viewers too, during the global health crisis.
“We humbly ask you to support No Kid Hungry, a national campaign focused on ending childhood hunger in America,” reads the video’s caption.