At the end of James Franco’s interview on last night’s Colbert Report, the actor unwisely challenged the shows host to a bout of Tolkien trivia.
Really bad idea.
Stephen Colbert ranks among the world’s elite in terms of knowledge of Tolkien lore. Heck, he easily beat Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit screenwriter Phillipa Boyens in a head-to-head trivia battle last year. The director of those films, Peter Jackson, has said that he’s “never met a bigger Tolkien geek” in his life. When Jackson needs clarification on an element of Tolkien lore, he consults with Colbert (like he did in this December 2012 appearance on his show).
Franco appeared to believe he had a tough question for Colbert, but he quickly realized he was playing hardball with a professional and all he brought to the game was a Nerf bat. Colbert smacked him around with ease. Skip ahead to about 5:20 in the video above to see it all go down.
Really, though, even semi-serious Tolkien fans should be able to name two of the Valar. They are main characters in the first half of The Silmarillion. Franco, it’s safe to assume, was probably high when he came up with that questionable quiz.
It’s debatable whether Colbert broke character during his Franco smackdown, but he appeared to take so much joy in his nerddom that it doesn’t really jive with the fictional, willfully ignorant version of “Stephen Colbert” he plays on the show.
Then again, Colbert has stated in the past that he loves talking about LOTR so much that he’s intentionally incorporated love of the books into the fictional version of himself.