J.R.R. Tolkien estate says it does ‘not approve of’ upcoming biopic

British writer J R R Tolkien (1892 - 1973), enjoying a pipe in his study at Merton College, Oxford, Dec. 2, 1955.
(Haywood Magee / Getty Images)

The estate of “Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien said in a statement that it does not endorse an upcoming biopic based on the life of the British writer, the Guardian reported this week.

The statement, issued on Tuesday, read, “The family of J.R.R. Tolkien and the Tolkien Estate are aware of the Fox Searchlight motion picture entitled ‘Tolkien’ that is due for release in May 2019. The family and the estate wish to make clear that they did not approve of, authorize or participate in the making of this film. They do not endorse it or its content in any way.”

The movie stars Nicholas Hoult as Tolkien, with Lily Collins playing his wife. It was written by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford, and directed by Dome Karukoski.


The film, set around World War I, follows Tolkien as he befriends a group of artists at his school, and meets and falls in love with the woman who would become his wife, Edith Bratt. It’s been in development since 2013.

A representative of the estate told the Hollywood Reporter that Tolkien’s family has not seen the movie, and was not objecting to any scene or story line in particular.

Author John Garth told the Guardian that biopics “typically take considerable license with the facts, and this one is no exception.”

“As a biographer, I expect I’ll be busy correcting new misconceptions arising from the movie. I hope that anyone who enjoys the film and is interested in Tolkien’s formative years will pick up a reliable biography,” said Garth, who has written a biography of Tolkien.

Studio Fox Searchlight defended its film in a statement, saying it was proud of the movie.

“While we did not work with the Tolkien estate on this project, the filmmaking team has the utmost respect and admiration for Mr. Tolkien and his phenomenal contribution to literature,” the studio said.


“Tolkien” is set for release in the U.S. on May 10.