Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gamgee in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, says he can’t help tearing up every time he watches one iconic scene. Astin played Frodo’s best friend and steadfast companion on his journey to destroy the One Ring across all three movies in the trilogy, and is widely regarded as one of the best performers in the films. His father John appeared in Peter Jackson’s 1996 horror-comedy film The Frighteners and the tales of the great experience he had on set convinced the younger Astin to take the role of Samwise, uprooting his life to shoot in New Zealand for close to three years.
Astin, who as a child appeared in classic movies like Goonies, has worked steadily since appearing in the trilogy, starring in two Adam Sandler movies (50 First Dates and Click), appearing as Bob in Stranger Things season 2 and voicing Shazam in a number of animated movies and TV shows. But, he will always be best known for his role in The Lord of the Rings given the iconic status the franchise holds in popular culture. The actor seems content with that status, and says when he rewatches the movies he still gets emotional, tearing up at one scene every time.
Speaking to CinemaBlend, Astin says whenever he gets to the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King the scene where Aragorn greets the four hobbits makes him cry. In the scene, the Hobbits bow to the newly crowned king, but he quickly stops them, saying, “You bow to no man.” The assembled crowd, including Aragorn, then bows to them. It’s an emotional scene, and many an audience member found themselves tearing up at that line, and Astin is one of them. He adds that it’s because of the memories, as the simple green screen shot of the four actors was followed by a big celebration. You can read his comments below:
The last [scene] we shot was a scene that always makes me cry in the movie, when Aragorn turns and looks at us and says, “Oh, my friends, you bow to no one.” That was the last shot of the four Hobbits. My last shot. The movie had more to do, but the four Hobbits were basically, we stood against a green screen or blue screen, or whatever, and we just hit it. And the camera just kind of did a little push in, and we all gave this sheepish like, “Oh, I guess they’re all bowing for us?” You know, it was… we were on prison time. Everybody was counting down for the last three months. And I think they must have chosen that, or at least saved it until that moment. It was a controlled thing. It was inside of the warehouse at Stone Street, which was the studio down there. It’s an abandoned paint factory. It’s an old paint factory, and every time the wind blows, the windows rattle and stuff like that. But you know, there was champagne. I don’t think that was the end of principal photography, but it was definitely a wrap on the Hobbits. We went around as a crew, the Hobbits. So it was like, “Oh, the Hobbits are on set!” Or, “The Hobbits are traveling to set. Where are the Hobbits? Are the Hobbits eating again?”
It’s interesting to note that Astin cries not because of the story, but because of his personal memories connected to the scene, making him nostalgic for working on the franchise, one of the most successful in movie history. What’s ironic is that regular fans are likely to cry at the same point in the movie, due to the emotional weight of the scene, and the meaning behind Aragorn’s words, paying tribute to the diminutive Hobbits for their bravery and essentially saving Middle-Earth.
The final film in the trilogy, which made over $1 billion at the box office and won all 11 Academy Awards it was nominated for, a record which still stands 17 years later, is widely regarded as a hit-and-miss affair, with many fans saying it’s the weakest in the series. Regardless, it still contains scenes of great cinematic power and beauty, including the one which makes Astin cry. In fact, it’s arguably the one scene in The Lord of the Rings films almost guaranteed to elicit an emotional response, whether from fans or the actual actors involved.