Figwit is a fan-created name for a then-unnamed elf in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film series, played by Bret McKenzie of the musical duo Flight of the Conchords. The name Figwit derives from an acronym for "Frodo is grea...who is THAT?!?" [sic]. McKenzie played another elf in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Lindir, who also appeared briefly in the novel The Fellowship of the Ring. McKenzie has stated that Lindir and Figwit are different characters.[1]

BackgroundEdit

 
McKenzie at the New Zealand premier of Two Little Boys in Invercargill, New Zealand, in September 2012.

Bret McKenzie, half of the musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords and a Wellington native, first landed a small role as an extra in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.[2] He appears sitting next to Aragorn during the council in Rivendell scene. The elf was dubbed "Figwit" by Tolkien fan Iris Hadad; after seeing Frodo agree to take the ring, saying "I will take it", the film switches to a shot where Figwit can be seen standing on the far right, and Hadad's initial reaction was "Frodo is grea...who is THAT?!?"[3] Later, Hadad corresponded with her university friend Sherry de Andres, and the two created the first Figwit fan website, www.figwitlives.net, calling him "Legolas for the thinking woman".[4][5]

McKenzie appeared as Figwit again in the third film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, where he was credited as "Elf Escort". He appears in the scene where Arwen is leaving for the Grey Havens and has a vision of her future son, Eldarion, this time with two lines warning her to not delay and then exclaiming as she turns around. Director Peter Jackson stated in the DVD commentary for The Return of the King that Figwit was called back and given dialogue in the third film "just for fun for the fans" because "so much fuss has been made about him over the last couple of years".[6]

PopularityEdit

Though he only appeared for about three seconds in Fellowship of the Ring, Figwit's popularity soon blossomed, with Hadad stating that "[the fan site] got a lot of e-mails from people who thought they were the only ones who had noticed that handsome, dark-haired elf".[7] Figwit's physical appearance and demeanor are the source of much of his popularity: he has been noted for his "lithe and graceful" movement,[8] "enigmatic broodiness", "haughty demeanor", and "pouty" looks.[4] His fan website proclaims him "in a word, gorgeous. Or another, stunning... hypnotic... stupendous... captivating... take your pick."[3][9]

McKenzie has stated that the Figwit obsession is "weird," though he is "flattered."[10] He has remarked that "it's so hilarious because it's been propelled by so little ... I'm famous for doing nothing."[8][11]

 
A Topps Authentic Autograph card featuring 'Figwit' and Bret McKenzie's signature.

In other mediaEdit

Figwit does not appear in Tolkien's writings and was created exclusively for the films; thus there is little authentic information regarding him, save that he is a Royal escort. The only "official" place where the name Figwit is used is on several Topps trading cards, including a The Return of the King series card, titled "Return to Rivendell," and an Authentic Autographs card featuring the signature of actor Bret McKenzie.[12] In The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game he was assigned the name of Aegnor, one of Galadriel's brothers in The Silmarillion. A Figwit action figure was also created, though it was named "Elven Escort," as in the film.[13]

Figwit has been a subject of poetry, art, and fiction.[9] He is also a subject in slash fan fiction, where he is named Melpomaen, a rough, literal Elvish translation of "fig" and "wit", derived from melpo, which means "fig" in Tolkien's fictional language of Quenya,[14] and maen, which means clever or skilled in Noldarin, another of Tolkien's fictional languages.[15]

DocumentaryEdit

In 2004, a 57-minute documentary on the Figwit phenomenon was created by McKenzie's fiancée (and now wife) Hannah Clarke[16] and friends Stan Alley and Nick Booth. Entitled Frodo Is Great... Who Is That?!!, it premiered at the Auckland International Film Festival on July 23.[17] Meant to "[unravel] Bret's identity",[17] it follows McKenzie to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where he meets the fans of his trademark pout and "elvish good looks", and features extensive interviews with fans behind various Figwit fan sites as well as with Peter Jackson, Barrie Osborne, Mark Ordesky, Ian McKellen, and other cast members.[8][18] Booth stated that their film was "much more irreverent and strange" compared to other behind-the-scenes documentaries of the film trilogy, which were "very much driven around the production and the cast and Tolkien".[17]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Lesnick, Silas (January 4, 2012). "'Bret McKenzie Talks The Hobbit'". comingsoon.net. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  2. ^ Ryan, Maureen (July 14, 2007). "'Flight of the Conchords': Now with added 'Lord of the Rings' goodness". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois: Tribune Publishing. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "FAQ". figwitlives.net. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  4. ^ a b Wloszczyna, Susan (August 6, 2002). "'Lord' of the extras: Elfin charmer nets fans". USA Today. Mclean, Virginia: Gannett. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  5. ^ Steward, Sara (June 10, 2007). "Kiwi Con Men". New York Post. New York City: News Corp. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  6. ^ Peter Jackson (director), Fran Walsh (screenwriter, producer), Philippa Boyens (screenwriter) (2004-12-14). The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Special Extended DVD Edition (Motion picture). New Line Home Entertainment. Event occurs at scene 9 (with commentary). ISBN 0-7806-4653-3. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  7. ^ "'Figwit' steals Frodo's thunder". The Guardian. London, England: Guardian Media Group. December 13, 2002. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c Poole, Oliver (December 13, 2002). "Elf who launched a thousand hits". The Daily Telegraph. London, England: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  9. ^ a b Howell, Peter (February 9, 2003). "Netting 15 Megabytes of fame". Toronto Star. Toronto, Canada: Star Media. p. D4.
  10. ^ "Nameless elf gets cult Rings status". Newsround. London, England: BBC. April 18, 2002. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  11. ^ Poole, Oliver (January 11, 2003). "The elf who turned into a chick magnet". The Age. Melbourne, Australia: Nine Entertainment Co. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  12. ^ "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Movie Cards". Topps. Archived from the original on August 14, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  13. ^ "The Lord of the Rings Collector's Models". lotr-models.co.uk. Archived from the original on August 4, 2008. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  14. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1998). "Qenyaqetsa: The Qenya Phonology and Lexicon". Parma Eldalamberon. East Lansing, Michigan: Mythopoeic Society (12).
  15. ^ Salo, David (2004). A Gateway to Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press. p. 319. ISBN 0-87480-800-6.
  16. ^ Wolff, Zoë (June 17, 2007). "A Family in Harmony". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  17. ^ a b c Perry, Kate (July 23, 2004). "Worldwide fame not a figwit of elf's imagination". The New Zealand Herald. Auckland, New Zealand: New Zealand Media and Entertainment. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  18. ^ "Another 'Figwit' Doco Review". theonering.net. July 31, 2004. Retrieved July 31, 2008.

External linksEdit