It’s time for another round of Muppet Casting, where we take a famous movie and ask, if Jim Henson’s Muppets made their own version of it (in the vein of The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island), which Muppets would you cast in the lead roles?
This week, we’re doing The Lord of the Rings trilogy!
In the past couple Muppet Castings, I’ve tried to populate the film’s cast almost entirely with established Muppets, only occasionally suggesting a human actor or a newly built Muppet be used for a role. But the cast of The Lord of the Rings is so large that going outside the Muppet mainstays for some roles seems necessary, and certain characters (like Shelob or the Ents) would best be served by new Muppets custom-made for the part.
After some consideration, I decided that, for my casting picks, I’d go with human actors to play Gandalf, the Elves of Rivendell, and the Men of Gondor, but Muppets playing everyone else. For the roles played by humans, imagine they’re being played by the same actors as in the actual Lord of the Rings films. As for the Muppets . . .
Kermit the Frog as Frodo Baggins – This one’s pretty obvious. A hero who’s not defined by any particular skill or talent, but by his good heart and determination? No way could that be anyone but Kermit. I briefly considered having him play Bilbo and making Robin Frodo, but I wouldn’t want to sideline the Big K like that.
Fozzie Bear as Samwise Gamgee – If Kermit is Frodo, then Fozzie has gotta be Sam, the lead’s best friend and steadfast sidekick who’s not always the brightest.
Gonzo the Great & Rizzo the Rat as Merry & Pippin – I don’t think which of them plays which is terribly important. The important bit is that Merry & Pippin’s role in The Lord of the Rings (a comedic duo who tag along on the adventure for little reason other than being friends with the hero) is pretty much exactly the role Gonzo & Rizzo played in Muppet Treasure Island, so having them give a repeat performance here seems very natural.
Miss Piggy as Eowyn – I considered having Miss Piggy play Arwen or Galadriel, since she’d probably insist on playing the most beautiful character in the story. But Eowyn gives her a much larger role, and it just has to be Piggy who delivers the “No living man am I!” speech, punctuating it by attacking the Witch King with a “HI-YAAH!”
Rowlf the Dog as Legolas – Legolas is portrayed as a character without any major flaws who is excellent at most everything he does. The Muppets don’t really have a character like that, but laid-back Rowlf is probably the closest they come.
Bobo the Bear as Gimli – The Muppets are also pretty light on gruff characters, so there are few choices but Bobo who could do Gimli justice.
Janice as Queen Galadriel – While I decided the Elves of Rivendell would be played by humans, I like the idea of the Elves of Lothlorien being a much more hippy-dippy bunch, with Janice as their Queen, and the rest of the Electric Mayhem playing various bit-part Elves.
Link Hogthrob as King Theoden – Since I cast Miss Piggy as Eowyn, I decided all the Rohirrim should be played by pig Muppets, so Link seems the best choice for Theoden.
Pepe the Prawn as Grima Wormtongue – It was already kinda ridiculous that Wormtongue, a guy who practically has “Evil Weasel” tattooed on his forehead, could be the silk-tongued master manipulator who turned the King of Rohan into a puppet. Asking us to buy Pepe as this silk-tongued master manipulator leans into the ridiculous and makes it very clearly a joke.
Statler & Waldorf as Saruman & Waldorgast – It requires splitting the Saruman character into two, but c’mon: he’s an old man who spends most of his screentime hurling invective down at people from a balcony. There was clearly no other correct choice here. Besides, it’s just darkly hilarious to me imagining Waldorf saying, “You will taste man flesh!”
Uncle Deadly as The Witch King – Obvious choice is obvious. He’d still be more intimidating than the Rankin-Bass version of the Witch King.
The Swedish Chef as The Mouth of Sauron – Picture it: This imposing figure in black armor, the emissary of Sauron himself, rides out to speak to the armies of Gondor as they approach the Black Gate. Everything is unbelievably tense, and the Mouth of Sauron . . . goes “Bork a vork vee doo?” Everyone looks very confused as he continues talking to them in gibberish, until finally Aragorn gets fed up with it and just chops his head off.
Sweetums as The Cave Troll – I mean, who else would he be?
Cookie Monster as Gollum – I know that Sesame Street is owned by a different company now, and they’re considered a separate franchise from the Muppets, but tell me Cookie Monster is not absolutely perfect for the part of Gollum?
And Sam the Eagle as . . . An Eagle
Those are my picks for a Muppet rendition of The Lord of the Rings. What are yours?