Many filmmakers were keen to pursue an adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic Hobbit and Lord of the Rings source material, even during the 1970s. Even Zardoz director John Boorman wanted to take a stab at it, but was forced to abandon the project before any groundwork had been laid.

Still, if a 1970s version of The Hobbit were to succeed, it would require the right set of actors for the role. Here’s a list of 10 amazing thespians that could fill the shoes of characters first introduced in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

10 Gandalf The Grey (Peter O’Toole)

Peter O’Toole and Ian McKellen bear a lot of the same physical characteristics and mannerisms, and the former would have been a perfect fit for a 1970s rendition of Gandalf the Grey. O’Toole possesses the same sense of wisdom, cool authority, and kindness that goes with the character.

Seeing him in action in full costume while embroiled in a fight would have been equally thrilling, especially given the actor’s familiarity with similar roles in films such as Lawrence of Arabia. There are a few contenders for a 1970s Gandalf, but Peter O’Toole takes the number one spot with ease.

9 Bilbo Baggins (Dudley Moore)

Comedic actors have proven themselves to be handy in dramatic roles, especially those that require a bit of laughter from time to time. All Hobbits are comical characters from the start, given their jolly natures and sunny dispositions. Seeing them in dangerous situations creates fish out of water scenarios that are just as funny as they are thrilling.

Dudley Moore would have been the best choice for Bilbo Baggings. His 1970s self was already a mixture of funny, quirky, and cool in the same way that Martin Freeman is. His iconic role as the drunken Arthur wouldn’t come until 1981, so Moore wouldn’t have to fight against typecasting at this point.


8 Thorin Oakenshield (Sean Connery)

Sean Connery could have waltzed onto the set of The Hobbit and stolen the role of Thorin Oakenshield with little trouble. It’s a testament to the actor’s incredible versatility and powerful skill set that has allowed him to play some of the most iconic characters in film history. Though he didn’t always play the fantasy warrior type, he was used to playing the king role from time to time.

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His performance as Thorin Oakenshield would have been quite different from Richard Armitage’s portrayal, and that might have been a good thing. Connery conjured more charisma and had a better grasp of what it meant to play such a role. The change would have been a welcome one.

7 Balin (Richard Attenborough)

Balin was played with excellence by Ken Stott in the original film, and anyone playing him in a 1970s version would need to have the same mixture of authority, wisdom, and kindness. Richard Attenborough is the first and most obvious fit for the role, as evidenced by his performance in films like Jurassic Park.

It’s also quite easy to imagine Attenborough dressed up like a dwarf with a white beard and all the trimmings. Audiences would instantly have recognized the actor, while marveling at him as he stole every scene.

6 Dwalin (Brian Blessed)

Graham McTavish is known for playing very aggressive and antagonistic characters during his career, and he brought this stereotype to the forefront when he played the killer dwarf Dwalin in the Hobbit trilogy. He’s also a bit unhinged in a delightfully entertaining way, and any actor seeking to replicate that would need to be just as good.

Brian Blessed however, was in a league all his own. This over-the-top, highly charismatic actor has spent decades playing boisterous, loud and wonderful characters, making his 1970s self the perfect choice for Dwalin.

5 Bofur (Robert Shaw)

Bofur is a character that is both mischievous, courageous, and slightly untrustworthy. James Nesbitt managed to bring these qualities to life in the Hobbit trilogy, to great effect. During the 1970s however, another actor of similar skill and particular characteristics would be required.

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Robert Shaw could have fit the role perfectly, as evidenced by his performance as the unhinged shark hunter Quint in the iconic blockbuster Jaws. Pit him side by side with James Nesbitt, and the two share the same personality quirks that helped make Bofur such an excellent character.

4 Fili (Steve McQueen)

It’s hard to imagine ultra-cool guy Steve McQueen as someone willing to dress up as a dwarf and run around a fantasy landscape, but it’s not out of the realm of total possibility. After all, many other actors on the Hobbit casting sheet weren’t known for pursuing fantasy roles, either.

McQueen could have done a lot to bring the character of Fili more to the forefront in a way that original actor Dean O’Gorman failed to do. This would have balanced out his relationship with brother Kili, who ended up taking center stage when the second film introduced a love story into the mix.

3 Kili (Jeremy Irons)

1970s Jeremy Irons had the right looks, disposition, and openness to play Kili with a heavy degree of believability. He wouldn’t be the first choice for a brawling dwarf, but Kili was always more of a lover, rather than a fighter. Perhaps a bit of beefing up and some combat training could help round him out.

The key here would be acting ability, which Irons has in spades. As the story progressed towards his relationship with the elf warrior Tauriel, Irons would be able to flesh it out the same way he has demonstrated throughout his career.

2 Ori (Nicholas Lyndhurst)

Put actors Adam Brown and Nicholas Lyndhurst side by side, and the similarities are positively striking. Both are well-versed when it comes to comedy, with the latter having starred in the long-running British sitcom Only Fools And Horses. Physically, they are practically stand-ins for one another.

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Lyndhurst would have been about fifteen years shy of Brown if he ever nabbed the role, but the differences would have been negligible at best. His comedic strengths could have played through to wonderful effect as Ori.

1 Radagast The Brown (Peter Sellers)

Doctor Who fans were ecstatic to learn that seventh doctor Sylvester McCoy would be appearing in The Hobbit as Radagast the Brown. Not only was his pop culture status already cemented by that point, but it also gave audiences a chance to see an entirely different member of the Five Wizards.

Peter Sellers’ uncanny knack for comedy, not to mention his chameleonic acting skills would have made him the obvious and best choice for Radagast the Brown. His stint as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films is evidence enough that he had what it took to tackle such a great part.

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