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Peter Jackson gives Stephen Colbert the Tolkien spin-off of his dreams

Photo: CBS

Once Stephen Colbert announced he was doing a week-long series of segments about his time in New Zealand, you just knew it was all building to this. Sure, Colbert got to learn rugby from the All Blacks, go drinking with Bret McKenzie and Lucy Lawless, and was picked up at the airport by the Prime Minister, but if there’s one thing we know about Stephen Colbert, it’s that he’s gonna track down Peter Jackson anytime the two are in the same hemisphere. It’s all on Jackson, if we’re being honest, since the director put lifelong J.R.R. Tolkien fan Colbert in one of his Hobbit movies—that’s just encouraging him.

So it was no surprise that, for 12 full minutes, Thursday’s Late Show turned into the Stephen Colbert Fantasy Cosplay Show, as Colbert began by interviewing Jackson in his Wellington warehouse full of priceless LOTR props, and ended with a lavishly produced trailer for the epic spin-off of young Stephen Colbert’s sweatiest, orc-iest dreams. Now, one might ask if Colbert’s wordless, six-second role as “Laketown Spy” in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug had enough mutton on the bone for an entire movie. And you’d be right. Yet nothing would deter the persistent Colbert from gluing on some glorious Middle Earth locks, donning a rakish cloak, and tramping about his new New Zealand tramping ground as Aragorn’s “slightly hotter twin brother” Darrylgorn.

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Brushing past Jackson’s unwillingness to embark upon another trilogy (the proposed film is actually called Stephen Colbert Presents Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings Series The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’s “The Laketown Spy” Is Darrylgorn In Darrylgorn Rising: The Rise Of Darrylgorn The Prequel Of Part One: Chapter One), Colbert employed the gorgeous and bountiful New Zealand scenery, some strategically purloined Lord Of The Rings footage, a little unsuccessful stalking (of the totally not-into-it Sir Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen), some slightly more successful stalking (of Elijah Wood, who gave an enthusiastic, “Yeah, fuck it—I’m in!), and Jackson himself. (In another cameo, albeit one where his carrot-munching sidekick keeps asking about Harry Potter.) There’s bendy swordplay, dodgy accents, suspicious reaction insert shots of famous people, off-color Ent humor, and Colbert’s Darrylgorn explaining, at length, the finer plot points of Sauron’s big mistake in the books to a tavern full of very bored D&D peasants. As Jackson’s half-willing side character would say, “May the Force be with you, always.”

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.