Fans have been trying to recut Peter Jackson’s overstuffed trilogy of The Hobbit films for about as long as the third movie in the series (based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s roughly 300-page novel) has been out on Blu-ray. The latest edit comes from an unlikely place — actor Topher Grace, who IndieWire reports has edited down Jackson’s trilogy into a single two-hour film.
Grace isn’t exactly a stranger to fan edits of films — in 2012, he famously trimmed down George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels into a now-legendary 85-minute film. But the Hobbit edit was born out of slightly different motivations: Grace says he needed to relax after the strain of playing David Duke in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. Grace doesn’t typically find himself in an editor’s chair: “It’s not that I ever want to edit professionally,” he tells IndieWire. Apparently, fixing maligned geek films is just how Topher Grace relaxes; “It’s like doing woodwork in my garage.” (His film-editing hobby is why a Reddit thread predicted three years ago that he would eventually create this Hobbit cut.)
There are tons of Hobbit fan edits gracing the internet already, from slimmed-down cuts to full-blown reimaginings of the entire film, down to the custom Blu-ray artwork. The theory goes that buried in the seven hours and 54 minutes of Jackson’s trilogy (or nine hours and three minutes, if you’re watching the extended cuts) is a better adaptation of the beloved book than the three-part series we got. The idea is that if fans simply slice away enough elven subplots, wizardly duels, and overlong barrel chases, they’ll find a distilled essence of The Hobbit somewhere in the edit room.
Grace seems to concur with that sentiment: “I think that maybe ‘The Hobbit’ should’ve been one movie, and many people would agree,” he says. “Money drives a lot of those franchises. It’s better when the art leads.” Unfortunately, much like Grace’s Star Wars edit, it seems doubtful that his two-hour Hobbit cut will ever make its way online. But it’s nice to see that even after all these years, even Hollywood’s elite are still chasing the perfect Hobbit film.