Skip to main content

Since The Lord of the Rings chronicles an all-encompassing war for Middle-earth, it stands to reason the trilogy would feature quite the cast of characters. Peter Jackson’s iconic films feature a number of heroes and villains that can be considered favorites, such as Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn, Andy Serkis’ Gollum, and Orlando Bloom’s Legolas. But Sean Astin’s Samwise Gamgee is easily among the most beloved. And the actor once explained exactly why his character, nicknamed Samwise the Brave, has such a firm grasp on fans’ hearts.

Sean Astin smiles as he poses with a copy of his book ‘There And Back Again: An Actor's Tale - A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Lord Of The Rings’
Sean Astin | Scott Gries

Samwise Gamgee is a standout in ‘The Lord of the Rings’

The Lord of the Rings is a story about many things. The film’s larger-than-life conflict of good versus evil can be considered an allegory for any number of things. But beyond that, several characters evolve many times over by the time the credits roll on The Return of the King. Perhaps most impressively — as that third film plainly states — the four heroic hobbits at the story’s center emerge the unlikeliest saviors of Middle-earth.

Frodo (Elijah Wood), Merry (Dominic Monaghan), Pippin (Billy Boyd), and Sam all do their part in turning the tide of battle against the Dark Lord Sauron. But Sam makes the most direct impact, literally carrying the weakened Frodo up the side of Mount Doom so that he can cast the One Ring into the fire. However, there’s more than just Sam’s good deeds behind why Astin’s character remains so popular among fans.

Sean Astin explained why fans love the hobbit so much

The Lord of the Rings‘ popularity grew so much that The Return of the King won all 11 Oscars for which it was nominated. And that awards season, many expected Astin to secure a Best Supporting Actor nod, which he didn’t. Still, it’s a testament to how much love there was and still is for Sam as a character. Astin recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette why he thinks the character resonates so much with fans.

“Some of the speeches Samwise gets to deliver, there are just certain phrases that just feel like home. They feel safe, warm, protective. There’s something about the way they come out and the context that is like a song. It’s like a warm blanket sitting by the fire for people. … I got to do that. What a blessing.”

As depicted in Jackson’s films, Sam absolutely represents not only the safety and security of “home” but also the inherent goodness of the world. As such, he embodies the very spirit every other heroic character is fighting so hard to save. True, the other hobbits and their home in The Shire fit that description too. But it’s Sam who ultimately propels his friends to victory, inspiring those around him and audiences to be the best version of themselves.


Why ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ Didn’t Finish Filming Until After Its Release

‘The Lord of the Rings’ actor is currently a DC superhero

Astin might be forever linked with The Lord of the Rings. But the actor has accomplished a lot more in his career than playing Samwise Gamgee. In fact, many years before stepping foot in Middle-earth, Astin appeared in 1980s adventure The Goonies. Then, less than a decade later, he starred in the beloved sports drama Rudy.

More recently, Astin has made regular appearances in the films of Adam Sandler, including hits like 50 First Dates and Click. He also played a key role in season 2 of Netflix hit Stranger Things and currently voices DC superhero Shazam in DC Comics’ animated films, such as 2020’s Justice League Dark: Apokolips War.