C.S. Lewis Not a Character in Tolkien Biopic

Many fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and the other Inklings have wondered if Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship would be featured in the new biopic, Tolkien. Their relationship is not covered in the film.

Instead, Tolkien focuses on Tolkien’s earlier years, with his schooldays and his experience WWI being the primary focuses.

Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins in Tolkien

The director, Dome Karukoski, did address why the film did not include Lewis as a character in an article on deseretnews.com.

“In all honesty, (the film is) almost two hours and C.S. Lewis would have added another 45 minutes,” Karukoski said.


Tolkien will be released in theaters on May 10.

37 Responses

  1. JFG II says:

    I still want to see it!

  2. fantasia says:

    Guess they'll have to make a sequel. 😉

    • Jonathan Paravel says:

      Yes I hope they do make a sequel! I was watching the trailer recently, hoping to find Lewis in it. I am grateful for this news item.

      • JFG II says:

        WE should make a Lewis/Tolkien buddy picture called “Men of Lost Tales”. Produced by Narniawebbers.

  3. Col Klink says:

    I don't really care because I'm not a fan of Tolkien. Actually even if the movie were about Lewis too, I don't think I'd go out my way to see the movie. Just because I like an author's writing doesn't mean I'd like them or find them interesting as a person. Not that Hollywood movies are going to be accurate representations of the historical figures they feature of course. 😉

    • JFG II says:

      Like I said, we Narniawebbers should make our own Lewis movie! We’re all about Narnia movies, so it makes sense that, eventually… Narniaweb Presents…

      • FriendOfNarnia2 says:

        One of these days maybe Narniawebbers will make their own version of a Narnia film. I remember way back some Narniawebbers were working on some sort of adaption for a Prince Caspian film before the movie came out. Does anyone else remember that? (I think it was PC, maybe VDT)

      • Cleander says:

        Wait, they really tried that? I had no idea! Maybe if the Netflix series is terrible/ doesn't get completed, Narniaweb could have another go at it! (I, of course, could only contribute a little funding and some really obscure, impractical knowledge of medieval weapons and castles…)
        I wonder how many Narniawebbers are actually experienced in filmmaking? I know Glumpuddle is, so I guess that's a start…

      • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

        @Cleander why would we want to make the castles and/or weapons realistic and practical when we can make them look really cool?

        (I'm joking, in case you can't tell [which I bet you can but I have received too many angry Youtube repliesXD])

        Alas, my film skills start and end at an introductory cinema class I took as an art credit:/ but I have enough crafting experience to possibly be a minor assist in props or costumes

      • Cleander says:

        Don't worry; even without being able to see your expression I know those words HAVE GOT TO BE A JOKE. Unless you're a professional filmmaker yourself, in which case you might actually be serious.;D
        I imagine anything Narniaweb could put together would be about the quality of a school play, unless we have some 3D computer animators among us.XD

      • HermitoftheNorthernMarch says:

        I'm definitely going to make my own comic book versions of the Chronicles if they don't get good movie/tv adaptions by the time they come into public domain. I feel LWW got a good adaption already, but PC, although a good movie is not like the book, and a comic book would be the perfect thing for an inexpensive visual adaption.

        Thanks for reporting on the Tolkien movie!

  4. coracle says:

    I don't think I'll see this movie. I've read at least one biography, and I think I still have the Humphrey Carpenter one. I can't see any value for a fan, to watch an inaccurate version of Prof Tolkien's early life.

  5. Larry W. says:

    Apparently Tolkien's estate or surviving family did not endorse this film. It is probably not accurate enough for them in how it depicts Tolkien's personal life. I have never seen the film, but I would probably not pay any money to view it unless there were some approval from Tolkien's family that it is at least a decent portrayal of the man.

    • shoezimm says:

      Actually, Tolkien's estate and family have staunchly refused to endorse any movie on his life, not just this one. Historical accuracy isn't the issue, its just that they are pretty set against anything these days. They've argued against the LOTR movies (though they've granted Amazon a crack at a series, which they probably couldn't have done if Christopher hadn't stepped down as executive for his father's estate). They've argued against biographies and even actual documentaries based in fact. Christopher said back in 2012 that “Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of our time”, and how “commercialisation has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing”." I find it funny though that while the family and estate are vocal about its non-support, they say nothing about the fact that Tolkien's own great-grandson grandson is in the film, fighting alongside Nicholas Hoult! I have to admit that the idea of this man fighting alongside a version of his own ancestor was pretty cool though.

      • Larry W. says:

        If C.S. Lewis is not a character just how accurate is the film? I wonder if he is even mentioned at all. That is like a biography about Tolkien in which the author leaves out Lewis as being Tolkien's friend. It would be a gross inaccuracy and misrepresentation of both of their lives. 🙁

      • Col Klink says:

        Erm, this movie doesn't sound like it's supposed to be about every single thing that ever happened to J. R. R. Tolkien, from his cradle to his grave. From the advertising, it looks like it's about his romance with his wife and his experiences in the first World War.

        C. S. Lewis wasn't Tolkien's only friend and vice versa. It sounds like they weren't even close friends to the end of their days. https://forum.narniaweb.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=401&hilit=Tolkien And anyway it sounds like Tolkien influenced Lewis much more than Lewis influenced Tolkien.https://forum.narniaweb.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=5248&p=211531&hilit=tolkien#p211531 So I think it's reasonable for someone to make a Tolkien biopic in which Lewis doesn't appear.

      • Col Klink says:

        Erm, Tolkien had a lot of other friends besides C. S. Lewis and vice versa. From the advertising, this movie looks like it's about Tolkien's romance with his wife and his experiences in the first World War.

        This movie isn't supposed to show every part of J. R. R. Tolkien's life from cradle to grave. From what I've read Tolkien influenced Lewis much more than Lewis influenced him https://forum.narniaweb.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=5248 and they didn't even remain close friends all their lives. https://forum.narniaweb.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=401 So I think it's totally reasonable to make a biopic of Tolkien without Lewis being a character.

      • Col Klink says:

        Erm, this movie isn't trying to show everything that ever happened to Tolkien. From the advertising it looks like it's about his romance with his wife and his experiences in the first World War. From what I've read, Tolkien influenced Lewis much more than Lewis influenced Tolkien and they didn't even remain close friends their whole lives. I think it's totally reasonable to make a biopic of Tolkien without Lewis being a character.

      • Trufflehuntress says:

        From what I understand, the whole idea of the Tolkien Estate dissing this film was just headline drama, drawn from the fact that the Estate makes it clear when they're not involved in a project, such as this one. They didn't "endorse" Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, either, though members of the Tolkien family were involved (and even cast in minor roles), and those films were well-made and vastly popular with fans of Tolkien, undoubtedly bringing many more fans to the source material. I think the Estate's focus is on preserving and promoting Tolkien's original written creation, and in keeping with that, they maintain a certain distance from other Tolkien-related media. In other words: This film was not an Official Biography with a Tolkien Estate stamp on it. But that doesn't mean there's antagonism or disrespect between the filmmakers and the Estate.

      • Col Klink says:

        If you’re wondering why I posted three comments saying the same thing, it’s because the website wouldn’t let me post the first two attempts. (Maybe because it had links in it.) But now they’ve all appeared for some reason,)

      • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

        @Larry W. I haven’t seen it myself but I’ve been hearing the movie is pretty inaccurate anyways

      • Larry W. says:

        I think I would rather see a movie that covered all or at least much of Tolkien’s life. It’s true that Shadowlands (the old BBC special and the big screen movie) did not cover everything and it’s mainly about just a few years in Lewis’ life. To my knowledge Tolkien didn’t have a relationship with someone quite like Lewis had with Joy. With Tolkien I would like to see something covers his whole lifetime. A movie shortens and sometimes fictionalizes people’s lives, but it still can be good in giving an overview of the people it is about. 🙂

      • Col Klink says:

        Could you give some examples of movies that do with a historical figure’s life what you’d like a movie to do with Tolkien’s, Larry W? And could you explain why you think C.S. Lewis was important enough to Tolkien to be in a biopic of him? I feel like that would help me understand your disappointment better.

      • Larry W. says:

        Col. Klink, I was thinking of the TV series Dickens of London which was made in the 1970’s. Of course that was a TV miniseries, but I think a shorter big screen movie would also have worked about as well for Dickens’ life. As for Tolkien, the Lord of the Rings was the most interesting book he wrote. It’s hard for me to think of that book without thinking of Narnia and its author. That he didn’t like Narnia doesn’t make much difference to me since the two authors had much in common (e.g. love for the old myths and the medieval world). There is also Tolkien’s role in helping to bring Lewis to Christianity. That’s what I would like to see as an ingredient in a film about Tolkien’s life. Tolkien was somewhat disappointed in Lewis in his not becoming a Catholic (he later became a member of the Anglican church), but that is not so important as his influence on Lewis’ conversion to Christianity. That influence would work very well in a film about Tolkien’s life.

      • Col Klink says:

        Thanks for the response, Larry W. Fair enough about that miniseries. I haven’t seen it and I’m probably not going to see this movie so I can’t really compare them. The reason for that is I’m not interested in biographies so I probably shouldn’t criticize your criticism of them. 🙂 I was under the impression though that biopics usually just focus on one part of a person’s life which tells a definite story with a beginning, middle and end. A literary biography usually covers a person’s whole life without trying to tell a story per se. (The whole presenting the facts and not telling a story thing is probably why I’m not interested in biographies actually.)

        I feel like what you’re arguing is that Tolkien would have to be a character in a Lewis biopic, not that Lewis would have to be a character in a Tolkien biopic. You’ve talked about how Tolkien influenced Lewis but not really how Lewis influenced Tolkien.

  6. Cleander says:

    Well, perhaps a rival company will make a rival film: LEWIS.
    Or has that sort of thing been done already? I rather think it has…

  7. Icarus says:

    CS Lewis already had his own biopic back in 93. Fair enough that Tolkien gets to be the focus of his own.

  8. Just Queen, not High Queen says:

    Well Tolkien wasn't in the CS Lewis movie, Shadowlands, so in a way, I guess the biopics are even.

    Whatever happened to that one movie in development that was about Lewis and Tolkien's friendship? I forget what it was supposed to be called.

    • The Rose-Tree Dryad says:

      Jack and Tollers, I think. I'm not sure what became of the project, but perhaps interest will be reignited if Tolkien does well enough.

    • shoezimm says:

      Were you thinking of this one called “A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War,”? It's based on the book by Joseph Locante and is
      being put out by Eastgate Creative, a non-profit filmmaking company, which Locante helped form. While it looks like they are searching for money to finish it, there is a trailer out that you can find on their webpage http://eastgatecreative.org/

  9. narnia fan 7 says:

    Was anyone really expecting Lewis too be in this? Seemed pretty clear from the trailers that the movie was about Tolkien's early life.

  10. Trufflehuntress says:

    I saw this film (somewhat skeptically) and enjoyed it more than I expected. It focuses on Tolkien's early life and friendships, and how those friendships, particularly in light of WWI, helped shape his later creative work. I've read about Tolkien's life, and while this isn't a purely factual documentary-style film, I felt they honored much of the true story and captured what we know of his personality wonderfully. Good acting, cinematography, soundtrack, etc. I understand some of the critique surrounding it–I would love to see a purely factual documentary, if someone makes one–but for what it is, I thought it was well done. It only touches on his later life briefly, so I understand why Lewis wasn't featured, but I agree with those calling for a sequel. 🙂

  11. Christopher says:

    It should have been called “Tolkien – Part 1”. I literally had no clue that he wouldn’t even START writing The Hobbit until the final scene of the film. To brush it all off with a few “SUPER” text closing remarks before the credits, just when things started happening really came across as a letdown. To be honest, the 3-part Documentary about J.R.R. Tolkien Peter Jackson included in The Lord of the Rings: The Appendices – Parts One, Three and Five DVDs, as well as “The Inklings” documentary included in “Beyond the Movie: National Geographic – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” DVD did a better job painting a complete portrait of Tolkien’s life than this movie. I guess I was expecting the Middle-Earth equivalent of “Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story”. Seriously, if “The Man Who Invented Christmas” played out like Tolkien did, we would have gotten 1 hr 45 min of Charles Dickens in the poorhouse, and he wouldn’t have even put his pen to paper on A Christmas Carol until the final scene. Tolkien is certainly one “about the author” biopic I think deserves a sequel. I literally sat there during the credits thinking: “When do I get to see ‘Tolkien – Part 2’?”