Sylvester McCoy turns 69 today!
Many fans will recognize Sylvester McCoy from his days playing The Seventh Doctor in the television series Doctor Who. But did you know he was the second choice to play Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings?
He confirmed, “I was down to the last two. They didn’t tell me who the other one was but when I found out I was in the company of Ian Holm that took away some of the sadness, because he’s a brilliant actor. I just wish he’d been busy that week!” He went on to say, “I enjoy doing conventions and things and this would have been another type of convention.”
Luckily for McCoy (and for us, the fans!), he got his chance to be in the Tolkien franchise; he will be playing Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit. He has already seen his fanbase expand to fans of Peter Jackson’s yet-unseen films. “People are popping up at conventions, asking questions about The Hobbit and about that whole world,” he remarked. “There’s a rumbling there, and I think, ‘Oh my goodness. There’s a whole new fanbase out there. A rather big one, I believe.’”
He has worked extensively on the stage, performing in plays great and small. “As far as I’m concerned, an audience is an audience,” he asserted. “Whether it’s an audience in Hull or the National Theatre, that’s who you play to. It’s not money – it’s good to get some, but that’s not why I do it. You do it because you have to, to tell a story.”
He even played opposite fellow Hobbit actor Ian McKellen in King Lear with the Royal Shakespeare Company. They also star alongside each other in the upcoming mockumentary, The Academy.
McCoy is known for his musical prowess on the spoons—his instrument of choice. He explained that he got the idea of inserting his favorite instrument into every project he does from “the great and glorious and heavenly W.C. Fields.” Fields started off as a comedy juggler before he became known as a comedic actor.
“He was asked to play Mr. Micawber [in Dickens’ ‘David Copperfield’],” said McCoy, “and they gave him the script, and he read it and said, ‘Where’s the juggling scene?’ And they said, ‘Well, W.C., Dickens didn’t write a juggling scene.’ And he said, ‘Well, he has now. It’s in my contract.’ It was in his contract that he had to have juggling in every film he did. And that inspired me. That’s why I try to get the spoons in everything.”
As shown in the 8th Hobbit Production Diary, it seems he managed to keep up the pattern:
Here’s wishing Sylvester a very happy birthday from Middle-earth News!