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March 22, 2016
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Such a fun article from Vanity Fair.

It’s apparently a very rocky road to Middle Earth.

On Monday’s episode of The Tonight Show, Jake Gyllenhaal confessed that his worst audition experience came way back in the late 90s when he was up for Elijah Wood’s part of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. The anecdote is charming and has all the hallmarks of a great “bad audition” story. Fumbling re-enactments, self-deprecating jokes, etc. But what’s interesting is that Gyllenhaal isn’t the only great leading man to cite The Lord of the Rings franchise as his worst audition. Eddie Redmayne—who won the best-actor Oscar just shortly after telling this story on The Graham Norton Show in 2015—had a disastrous time auditioning for the part of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.

With three Oscar nominations, one win, and a string of high-profile projects between them, Redmayne and Gyllenhaal are obviously doing fine without playing either member of the Baggins family. But the wounds of bad auditions—especially ones where you’re called “the worst actor ever”—linger. Odds are J.R.R. Tolkien’s saga isn’t hugely popular with either Redmayne or Gyllenhaal. But Redmayne, at least, can take comfort in the fact that he’s now starring in a massive franchise of his very own. He started that Graham Norton anecdote by bemoaning the fact that he was passed over for the Harry Potter films—“There was a whole family of ginger people!“—but went on to land the plum part of Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them just a few months later.

But actors, beware, if Peter Jackson ever gets around to making The Silmarillion, brace yourselves for one hellacious audition process.

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