JRR Tolkien biopic ropes in Downton Abbey’s James Strong
If for the past couple of years, you have admired the sassiness of Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess or fell head over heels for the poor cousin Matthew Crawley played by Dan Stevens in Downton Abbey, there’s good news. And if you’re also, coincidentally, a fan of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, then even better.
James Strong, director of the British–American historical drama, has been brought on board to make Middle Earth, a J.R.R. Tolkien biopic. The film will focus on his courtship and marriage to Edit Bratt, their life in Oxford, and personal hardship in 1914 during the first World War— which largely influenced and inspired classics like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The film will be based on a script by Angus Fletcher, screenwriter and professor at the Ohio State University’s Film Studies Program. Fletcher has, to his credit a number of academic papers in the domain of new literary history as well as dramatic ethics.
While Strong’s work so far has mainly been in TV (he’s even won a Best Director Fiction BAFTA in 2015 for Broadchurch, a British crime drama show), he has also directed a autobiographical documentary in 2007 called Elton John: Me, Myself & I. The seven part documentary (which can be viewed on YouTube here ) was aired on ITV, a UK TV network. Notably, the project will be produced by Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, formerly of New Line Cinemas, the same studios that had distributed The Lord of the Rings film series when they’d released over the period of 2001-2003.
Middle Earth— which is a reference to the continent on Earth, per Tolkien’s literary universe, where most human beings reside— will be produced under Shaye and Lynne’s eight-year-old banner Unique Features.