Of all the stellar casting in Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy, perhaps none is so enduringly pitch-perfect than the adorable double act of Dominic Monaghan (Merry) and Billy Boyd (Pippin). The pair of hobbit cousins have remained tight in the 20 years since The Fellowship Of The Ring laid waste to the world’s box offices, appearing on Tuesday’s Late Show to promote their new podcast, The Friendship Onion. And while, sadly, it appears that their venture is not in fact a satirical fake news program about Middle Earth, the duo did spend most of their two segments trying to stump self-confessed Tolkien “superfan” Colbert, with the promise of a priceless prize concealed in Monaghan’s pocket. Sorry, “pocketses.”
First, as is a hobbit’s way, the forever-linked actors roused Colbert from his newly-restored Ed Sullivan Theater throne to dance a jig and sing the drinking song from their characters’ sojourn to Bywater’s The Green Dragon Inn. Honestly, they should have just made that one of their trivia questions, as Colbert shamefacedly confessed that, apart from the chorus, he didn’t know the lyrics to the song. Still, as the clearly delighted Colbert stomped and clapped along, it was pretty much the rousing return to post-pandemic late-night normalcy that anyone could have wished. Colbert also invited himself onto The Friendship Onion as a guest, while the erstwhile Meriadoc Brandybuck and Pippin Took explained that, yes, people do offer up some second breakfast every time they see the two together on the street.
But the real fun took place after the break, as Monaghan, patting his pocket and jostling his legs in anticipation, told Colbert that he’d only hand over the coveted, concealed precious if the host could answer the actors’ riddles three. (Actually it was two riddles, but one was a two-parter.) Colbert’s aced such quizzes in the past, be they asked by Thranduil or even J.R.R. Tolkien and wife Edith themselves, but it was these unassuming hobbits who proved unaccountably tough. Sure, everyone knows who Shelob’s mother was and how that spider-matron died. That’s kid stuff. But could Colbert come up with the name of the specific glen in Fangorn Forest where Merry and Pippin witnessed Treebeard’s entmoot, a tidbit known to only the truest and nerdiest of heart? Plus, adding to the difficulty, Peter Jackson himself beamed in to ask the bonus question of just which historical hobbit invented the game of golf (famously and originally played with a severed orc’s head).
Cobbling together enough half-correct answers to receive Monaghan’s indeed pretty cool (if anatomically creepy) prize, Colbert eventually kept his streak mostly intact. He also responded to the online outrage about the potential Game Of Thrones-ing of the upcoming Lord Of The Rings prequel series, whipping out his ever-handy text of The Fellowship Of The Ring to read out that passage where Tom Bombadil successfully entices his hobbit guests to “run naked on the grass.” As Boyd told of the time that LOTR screenwriter Philippa Boyens prankishly wrote in a scene where Merry and Pippin go bare-arsed after a fall from Treebeard’s branches, Colbert told all those purists out there that he didn’t want to hear any of their prudish prohibitions when it comes to potential halfling nudity on the lavishly expensive Amazon series. The Laketown spy has spoken, people.