The Fellowship of the Ring just recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, and now series star Sean Astin has revealed the film’s beloved and often-quoted ending almost wasn’t in the film.
Speaking to The Wrap, Astin said the emotional scene at the end of Fellowship where Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Astin) go off on their own wasn’t originally in the script. Astin told a story of being called into a meeting to discuss this pivotal scene, and the rest is history.
“When Frodo and Sam go off on their own at the end of the first film, that scene wasn’t written until well into the production. Like well, well, well into the production. And [director] Peter Jackson, [and writers] Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens wanted Elijah [Wood] and I to come and have a meeting with them, and we were like, ‘Well this is new,'” Astin recalled.
In the scene, Frodo–seeking to avoid causing more collateral damage–wants to travel to Mordor alone to destroy the Ring, so he gets in a boat and prepares to travel down the river by himself. But Sam finds Frodo and swims out to him–but he can’t swim. Frodo rescues Sam and then Sam delivers the iconic line, “I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. ‘Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee,’ and I don’t mean to.” The two then embrace in the emotional scene that caps off the first film.
According to Astin, changes to the script were so common that he eventually chose to only look at the pages in front of him for the day at hand. “Every day we would get new pages with small changes, big changes, prop changes, location changes, whatever,” Astin said. “And you tried to read them, but at a certain point there’s just too much.”
Peter Jackson went on to direct The Hobbit films after The Lord of the Rings trilogy wrapped up, and they, too, were massively successful at the box office, even if they didn’t enjoy the same critical acclaim as the original movies. A new Lord of the Rings animated movie, War of the Rohirrim, is now in the works. Additionally, Amazon’s long-awaited Lord of the Rings TV series debuts on September 2, 2022.
Outside of these projects, a video game focused on Gollum is in the works, while The Lord of the Rings Online is reportedly coming to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.