Lord of the Rings actor John Rhys Davies on TV adaptation: 'Poor Tolkien must be spinning in his grave'

Fans of J.R.R Tolkien’s fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings are both excited and terrified about Amazon’s upcoming TV series. While the studio has revealed the series will focus on new storylines that precede The Fellowship of the Ring — with a potential spin-off also coming — little else is known.

Reports have begun circulating concerning the project's budget, one signalling the series may cost upwards of $1 billion, easily making the adaptation the most expensive show of all time.

Now, an actor from the acclaimed Peter Jackson movies has spoken out against the series, saying “Tolkien must be spinning in his grave”. Speaking to Den of Geek, John Rhys Davies — who played Gimli — made the comments while promoting British horror film Aux.

“You know they have the money to do it,” he told the publication. “Why we quite need Lord Of The Rings as a TV series baffles me slightly, but I'm sure that [???] are so utterly un-principled and greedy for money for anything – I mean the extraordinary money they're getting from online gambling and stuff like this, it's just a disgrace. I mean, poor Tolkien must be spinning in his grave.”

While the writer of the article couldn’t make out who Davies was referring to, the quote hints towards a comment on the fraught relationship between the Tolkien estate and New Line, the Warner Bros. production label that brought Jackson’s movies to life. The author’s heirs filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers after characters from the series appeared on slot machines and other online games. An undisclosed settlement was met out of court.

“It’s not about doing it better, it’s about making more money that’s all,” Davies continued. “If they think they can make more money, then they will.” The actor then suggested spending the colossal budget on new projects rather than re-hashing the old, adding "but then what the hell do I know?"

One vocal opponent of adapting Lord of the Rings has been Tolkien’s son, Christopher, who at one stage said of Jackson’s films: "They gutted the book, making an action film for 15 to 25-year-olds.” Christopher resigned from the Tolkien estate on the 31 August earlier this year, only weeks before the Amazon deal was made official.