During my time at Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC) I had the opportunity to interview actor Billy Boyd. Boyd, who is perhaps best known as Pippin in The Lord of the Rings movies, was kind enough to take the time to speak to me and discuss the work he did on Lord of the Rings, as well as parallels between Rings and current events.
It was surreal to even see Billy Boyd in person and also a bit shocking to see a bit of white in his hair — has it really been 16 years since The Fellowship of the Rings came out? — but it seems as if no time has passed at all for Boyd; he’s just as much a part of Middle Earth as he was back in New Zealand. It was also clear during our interview and his later panel, that Boyd is still quite attached to Lord of the Rings and is happy to chat about his work on it. Aside from his role as Peregrin “Pippin” Took in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Boyd also collaborated with Peter Jackson’s partner, Fran Walsh, and sang “Edge of Night” for the Return of the King soundtrack (Boyd was also kind enough to perform “Edge of Night” for a fan at his SVCC later panel).
Years later “Edge of Night” was featured in one of the trailers for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and Boyd worked with Walsh again on “The Last Goodbye,” the end credits song for The Battle of the Five Armies. When I asked Boyd about working on “The Last Goodbye,” he said that it took him a long time to compose the music (aside from being an actor, Boyd is also a musician and a member of Scottish band, Beecake), but that it was easy to get back to Middle Earth once he had visited all his old haunts in New Zealand. It must have been a bittersweet experience — one or two special places have closed down since Boyd finished filming Lord of the Rings — but for all that, “The Last Goodbye” still ends on the same happy note that Boyd must have felt in New Zealand.
At its core, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is a fundamentally hopeful tale. Even Denethor, whose flaws Boyd and I agreed made Pippin realize for the first time that the world isn’t just good and evil, Man/Hobbit/Wizard/Elf versus Sauron and his allies, has a brief moment of happiness upon learning that his youngest son is still alive. Little wonder I and other American fans have been using the movies as a way to cope with the political situation. Boyd seemed surprised to learn that fact– until I brought up the results of the Entmoot in The Two Towers when Merry and Pippin fail to convince the Ents to join the fight against Saruman. Merry is incensed, but Pippin is morose, asking Merry, “What can we do in the end?” Pippin’s line, I explained, embodies the same sense of powerlessness and smallness that people all over the U.S. are still feeling; that idea that there is nothing that one, single person can do.
Boyd’s response was to immediately boost me up — “Every vote counts,” he told me — and he brought up the strong political efforts such as the March for Science and associated marches taking place that same day in Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles as examples of how people could make a difference. It was hard to imagine that anything bad could ever happen while sitting in a crowded convention filled with the babble of excited fans, but Boyd’s words have proven to be inspiring and powerful even weeks later. It was heartening to be reminded by a former Hobbit that, as Galadriel said, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”