“Rise of the Fellowship,” a spoof film based on “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy, is a loving tribute to the popular fantasy series. The film stars Justin Moe as Randall, a high school boy who, along with his band of friends, go to a gaming convention to restore his good name. ShockYa was happy to speak with Moe about the role, paying respect to “The Lord of the Rings” and his anticipation for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” “Rise of the Fellowship,” also starring Jayme Bell, Cole Matson, Emma Earnest and Wolf J. Sherrill, is available for purchase now.
How would you describe your character?
Justin Moe: I would describe [my character] as…a kid who’s trying to find himself. He’s finding the leader within himself. In the movie, he kind of passes off the leadership role to Squirrelly [Bell], who is best friend. But then, toward the end, as the story progresses, he begins to regain his confidence in himself. I think he represents that person who is trying to find the confidence within themselves and become the leader they were born to be. That’s on the real life level [of the movie]–he’s bullied by the jocks at school, so he doesn’t see himself very highly. He’s also bullied by his brother. Where he finds value is with his circle of friends. But even with them, he doesn’t have this strong confidence. The story is that through circumstances and through things that he learns and through the bond he has with his friends, he regains that confidence that he’s supposed to have.
In the fantasy realm of “The Lord of the Rings”…he definitely represents Frodo. He represents that character who is going on this journey and has this burden…but he also has moments of the Strider or Aragorn character, especially later. He kind of sees himself as Aragorn, I should say…he kind of sees himself as a warrior. So I think he represents both of those characters, Frodo and Aragorn.
This film is certainly a love letter to “The Lord of the Rings” films. What was it like to create a film like this?
Justin Moe: It was an amazing experience. I remember having an interview on set and they asked me to think of three words to describe it. “Amazing” was one. “Magical” was another, because we’re dealing a fantasy genre…which is a genre I love to work in–even in my own films I create, I love working in that genre. I haven’t read the books yet, but I’ve seen all of “The Lord of the Rings” movies…and I think “The Lord of the Rings” movies are in my top five favorite [movie] list. It was really, really cool to be a part of a project that kind of has this “Lord of the Rings” feel but it’s done in its own, unique way. It’s in modern day, but we’re going on a journey just ilke the hobbits do in “The Lord of the Rings,” and I thought it was an extremely unique experience. For the first feature film that I ever did, I would never trade it for anything.
There are a lot of “LotR” references in the film–do you have a favorite?
Justin Moe: On the serious side, the two references that I like are the two scenes that are filmed almost exactly like they were in “The Lord of the Rings” movies. The first one is when the Ringwraith is searching for the hobbits and they’re hiding beneath the rocks. How we did it is there’s a guy on a motorcycle, and he’s searching for us and we’re hiding…I also love the Boromir death scene [as told through a paintball match]. And the one gag [I loved] is the character of Baba Melvin. He’s Tom Bombadill, which is a lovable character that’s in the books but didn’t make it into the movie, but he’s also a Gandalf and a bit of Elrond. I think they threw in some Treebeard lines with him, but I love how his character encompassed…the mentor character and the lighthearted Tom Bombadill into this jolly hippie character.
What was it like working with the cast? Were they all “LotR” fans?
Justin Moe: Yes, I think they were all “Lord of the Rings” fans on varying degrees…I know that all of them had an interest in “The Lord of the Rings” and had an appreciation for it, as do I. To be able to work with the three of them especially was great because we formed this bond over the course of the project similar to the hobbits in “The Lord of the Rings.” We’re still friends now. That’s something that we’ll always keep, that friendship that we developed over the project. You kind of have to have that when you’re filming ensemble projects. You have to see that these guys are all friends. The four of us would get together at places like IHOP…just to have a lunch together, to be able to develop that relationship between the four of us. Then, that made it all the more real when we got on screen.
Also, I know that Jayme is a big gamer. I’ve since become much more of a gamer since then–I’ve started playing “Lord of the Rings Online.” So does he–he played “World of Warcraft.” It was great to be a part of this group of nerds and geeks, because I think all of us have a geek within us in someway, with something. And Emma’s played some of the games as well, so we had this geek culture within the four of us, too.
What do you think “LotR” fans will think of the movie?
Justin Moe: I think that “Lord of the Rings” fans will find it as something that we’re tipping our hat to both the books and the movies, because that’s what the producers tried to do, that’s what the directors tried to do and the writers tried to do…They really tried to captured the essence of Tolkien in the story, they’re trying to pay homage to Peter Jackson’s work in the films but then also try to throw things in from the book as well, like the Tom Bombadill character…I think fans of Tom Bombadill will really love that because that’s something that was missing in the books. I’ve heard a lot of Tom Bombadill fans say, “I wish he was in the movie!” So, with this, they’ll get to see the essence of that character. I think “Lord of the Rings” fans won’t find it as us making fun of it, but that we’re honoring Tolkien’s work. I think they’ll really enjoy it.
This film will be coming out around the same time as “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” How excited are you for that film?
Justin Moe: I’m extremely excited for the second “Hobbit” movie. I like to see trailers in the theaters when I’m going to see a film…but I’ve been holding off on seeing the trailer and I know it’s out there and I really want to see it. When I saw the first “Hobbit” movie, all I could think of was nostalgic it was, like when I watched “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy on the big screen. And seeing returning characters, like Ian McKellen as Gandalf, it just felt really nostalgic. And hearing the music from Howard Shore–it was like the team’s come back toghether… I’m very, very excited for “The Desolation of Smaug.” Time only moves so fast–I wished it moved faster because I really, really want to see it.