30 November 2010
What Colour Skin Do Hobbits Have?
The most recent controversy to afflict the film relates to a Pakistani woman being knocked back for a part as a Hobbit extra in the film. According to the casting agent the young woman, Naz Humphreys, was not "light-skinned" enough for the part of a hobbit. Hmmm....
This got me thinking. I have not read The Hobbit since I was a kid. So, it was time for a little research.
There are three types of hobbits: the Harfoots, the Fallohides, and the Stoors. Generally, hobbits are between 2 and 4 feet tall. The Harfoots are the most numerous, the Stoors are the next most numerous group, and the Fallohides are the smallest group. The Stoors are a little shorter than the others, they are also a little broader, and they are particularly fond of water and things associated with water like boating. Presumably, the additional outside time might suggest that perhaps a more tanned and darker complexion is possible. In contrast, Tolkien went to some length to set out that the Fallohides were generally fair-skinned and taller than other hobbits. The Fallohides also had close links to the elves (some inter-breeding perhaps?)
Interestingly, the advertisement that went into the Bay of Plenty newspaper looking for hobbits required men to be no more than 5ft7in and women of no more than 5ft2in in height. The ad also required women to have fairer skin tones. Although, Jackson and his company, Wingnut Films, have steadfastly maintained that there was never any such instructions given to the casting agent.
In any event, common sense in 2010 would dictate that even if you were trying to recruit potential hobbits of the fairer skin variety then you would be very explicit in making your brief one where you were seeking to cast Fallohides and not Harfoots or Stoors. Needless to say, the casting agent was fired. It is unclear as to whether Humphreys ended up scoring a part as an extra in the film.
This post is not actually about discrimination in the 21st century, rather it is to clarify what skin colour is most prevalent among the hobbit groups as described in Tolkien's works where hobbits make an appearance.
Wikipedia has a good overview of Hobbits.