Topher Grace recut 'The Hobbit' trilogy into one 2-hour film to destress after playing David Duke in BlacKkKlansman
In a couple of weeks, we'll get to see Topher Grace play Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke in Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman'. The film tells the "outrageous, real-life story" of African-American Colorado detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who infiltrated the Klan by impersonating a white man on the telephone.
As IndieWire reports, the former 'That 70s Show' star was burdened with portraying Duke, the most prominent white supremacist in history, and had to deal with the psychological duress of embodying the character for several weeks.
After this daunting task, Grace reportedly chose a strange way to de-stress - by editing Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit' trilogy into a single 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, which he even managed to screen once to a handful of industry insiders before legal restrictions prevented him from hosting further screenings. But this time around the motivations were slightly different.
Talking about the stress of dawning the clan's garb and getting into David Duke's character, Grace tells IndieWire: “I was so depressed. I was probably a terrible husband at the time. It was so disturbing to go home and turn on the news to see how his ideology was affecting us at the moment.”
So Grace chose his own unconventional method of dealing with it - by revisiting the editing software that he used to clip Lucas' Star Wars prequels. But Grace admits that he has no inclinations to edit professionally, and did it solely for the purpose of unwinding from months of heavy work. “It’s not that I ever want to edit professionally,” he said. “It’s like doing woodwork in my garage.”
“I don’t know what other guys do. Go fishing? For me, this is just a great way to relax,” the actor said. “There’s something really zen about it.”
As fans would know, there are tons of Hobbit fan-edits on 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 is a better adaptation of the beloved book than the three-part series we got. Many fans have argued over the years that 'The Hobbit' should have been adopted into a single film and that the trilogy was just a way of miliking the franchise for the most amount of profits.
Grace seems to agree with this notion. “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.” On a related note, elsewhere in the interview, he also spoke about his conscious decision to move away from commercial cinema. During the Cannes premiere of 'BlacKkKlansman', he said that he gave up studio movies after realizing he made enough money from 'That ‘70s Show.' While Grace’s credits include playing the villain Venom in 'Spider-Man 3,' he has apparently now lost interest in sequels. “All these franchises started from a real, genuine, artistic place,” he said. “Then they made a lot of money. They say success has many fathers.”
Grace also discussed the impact of playing such a controversial figure on screen in reference to his role in 'BlackKklansman'. The actor spent a month researching the part, listening to tapes of Duke’s lectures and reading his autobiography. “He puts this different face on racism that made it more palatable,” Grace said. “Some people are asking if I was too likable. But I think the likable part of it is what makes him so evil.” When asked if he was hesitant to play the role considering the repurcussions on his career, Grace was unfazed. “I wanted to be a part of the national conversation,” he said. “Was it a wise career move? I just don’t give a f**k.”
'BlacKkKlansman' opens Friday, August 10. Watch the trailer for the film below: