Figwit

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Figwit is a fan-created name for an unnamed elf extra in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, played by actor and musician Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame. The name Figwit derives from an acronym for "Frodo is grea...who is THAT?!?" [sic].

Background[edit]

McKenzie at the New Zealand premier of Two Little Boys in Invercargill, New Zealand in September 2012.

Bret McKenzie, half of the musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords and a Wellington native, first landed a small role as an extra in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.[1] He appears sitting next to Aragorn during the council in Rivendell scene. When it is decided that the Ring must be destroyed, Frodo offers to take the Ring to Mordor, and Elrond proclaims the formation of the Fellowship of the Ring. The elf was dubbed "Figwit" by Tolkien fan Iris Hadad; after seeing Frodo agree to take the ring, saying "I will take it", the film switches to a shot where Figwit can be seen standing on the far right, and Hadad's initial reaction was "Frodo is grea...who is THAT?!?"[2] Later, Hadad corresponded with her university friend Sherry de Andres, and the two created the first Figwit fan website, www.figwitlives.net, calling him "Legolas for the thinking woman".[3][4]

McKenzie appeared as Figwit again in the third film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, where he was credited as "Elf Escort". He appears in the scene where Arwen is leaving for the Grey Havens and has a vision of her future son, Eldarion, this time with two lines warning her to not delay and then exclaiming as she turns around. Director Peter Jackson stated in the DVD commentary for The Return of the King that Figwit was called back and given dialogue in the third film "just for fun for the fans" because "so much fuss has been made about him over the last couple of years".[5]

In the film version of The Hobbit, McKenzie was cast as Lindir, an elf of Rivendell who appeared briefly in J.R.R. Tolkien's novel, The Fellowship of the Ring.[6]

Popularity[edit]

Though he only appeared for about three seconds in the first film, Figwit's popularity soon blossomed, with Hadad stating that "[the fan site] got a lot of emails from people who thought they were the only ones who had noticed that handsome, dark-haired elf".[7] Figwit's physical appearance and demeanor are the source of much of his popularity: he has been noted for his "lithe and graceful" movement,[8] "enigmatic broodiness", "haughty demeanor", and "pouty" looks.[3] His fan website proclaims him "in a word, gorgeous. Or another, stunning... hypnotic... stupendous... captivating... take your pick."[2][9]

McKenzie has stated that the Figwit obsession is "weird," though he is "flattered."[10] He has remarked that "it's so hilarious because it's been propelled by so little ... I'm famous for doing nothing."[8][11]

A Topps Authentic Autograph card featuring 'Figwit' and Bret McKenzie's signature.

In other media[edit]

Figwit does not appear in Tolkien's writings and was created exclusively for the films; thus there is little authentic information regarding him, save that he was an escort. The only "official" place where the name Figwit is used is on several Topps trading cards, including a The Return of the King series card, titled "Return to Rivendell," and an Authentic Autographs card featuring the signature of actor Bret McKenzie.[12] In The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game he was assigned the name of Aegnor, one of Galadriel's brothers in The Silmarillion. A Figwit action figure was also created, though it was named "Elven Escort," as in the film.[13]

Figwit has been a subject of poetry, art, and fiction.[9] He is also a subject in slash fan fiction, where he is named "Melpomaen", a rough, literal Elvish translation of "fig" and "wit," derived from melpo, the Quenya word for fruit (fig),[14] and maen, the Noldorin word for clever or skilled.[15]

Documentary[edit]

In 2004, a 57-minute documentary on the Figwit phenomenon was created by McKenzie's fiancée (and now wife) Hannah Clarke[16] and friends Stan Alley and Nick Booth. Entitled Frodo Is Great... Who Is That?!!, it premiered at the Auckland International Film Festival on July 23.[17] Meant to "[unravel] Bret's identity",[17] it follows McKenzie to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where he meets the fans of his trademark pout and "elvish good looks", and features extensive interviews with fans behind various Figwit fan sites as well as with Peter Jackson, Barrie Osborne, Mark Ordesky, Ian McKellen, and other cast members.[8][18] Booth stated that their film was "much more irreverent and strange" compared to other behind-the-scenes documentaries of the film trilogy, which were "very much driven around the production and the cast and Tolkien".[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ryan, Maureen (2007-07-14). "'Flight of the Conchords': Now with added 'Lord of the Rings' goodness". chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  2. ^ a b "FAQ". figwitlives.net. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  3. ^ a b Wloszczyna, Susan (2002-08-06). "'Lord' of the extras: Elfin charmer nets fans". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  4. ^ Steward, Sara (2007-06-10). "Kiwi Con Men". New York Post. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  5. ^ Peter Jackson (director), Fran Walsh (screenwriter, producer), Philippa Boyens (screenwriter) (2004-12-14). The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Special Extended DVD Edition (Motion picture). New Line Home Entertainment. Event occurs at scene 9 (with commentary). ISBN 0-7806-4653-3. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  6. ^ Lesnick, Silas (2012-01-04). "'Bret McKenzie Talks The Hobbit'". comingsoon.net. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  7. ^ "'Figwit' steals Frodo's thunder". guardian.co.uk (London: The Guardian). 2002-12-13. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  8. ^ a b c Poole, Oliver (2002-12-13). "Elf who launched a thousand hits". telegraph.co.uk (London: The Daily Telegraph). Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  9. ^ a b Howell, Peter. "Netting 15 Megabytes of fame". Toronto Star [Ontario edition], (February 9, 2003). Page D4. Retrieved July 31, 2008, from Canadian Newsstand Major Dailies database. (Document ID: 421041841).
  10. ^ "Nameless elf gets cult Rings status". CBBC Newsround (BBC). 2002-04-18. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  11. ^ Poole, Oliver (2003-01-11). "The elf who turned into a chick magnet". theage.com.au. The Age. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  12. ^ "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Movie Cards". Topps. Archived from the original on August 14, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  13. ^ "The Lord of the Rings Collector's Models". lotr-models.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  14. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1998). Qenyaqetsa: The Qenya Phonology and Lexicon. Parma Eldalamberon No. 12. 
  15. ^ David Salo (2004). A Gateway to Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. University of Utah Press. p. 319. ISBN 0-87480-800-6. 
  16. ^ Wolff, Zoë (2007-06-17). "A Family in Harmony". nytimes.com (The New York Times). Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  17. ^ a b c Perry, Kate (2004-07-23). "Worldwide fame not a figwit of elf's imagination". nzherald.co.nz. The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  18. ^ "Another ‘Figwit’ Doco Review". theonering.net. The One Ring. 2004-07-31. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 

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