Andy Serkis’ marathon read of the great modern classic and prelude to the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, has raised over £280,000 for two charities. The 56-year-old actor, perhaps best known for his role as the corrupted Hobbit-turned-creature, Gollum, set out on the mammoth task of reading The Hobbit in its entirety on Friday 8th of May to raise funds for the COVID-19 relief efforts in a challenge dubbed #Hobbitathon.
Serkis described the endeavour as a “12-hour armchair marathon across Middle Earth whilst raising money for two amazing charities which are doing extraordinary work right now to help those most in need in the U.K.” The adventure only paused for a minute’s silence at 11:00am to commemorate VE Day, as well as for lunch and loo breaks.
The voice of Gollum took a captivated audience, which reached around 15,000 viewers in the first hour alone, on a journey from The Shire, to the magical Rivendell, through Mirkwood and Lake Town before meeting Smaug the dragon and seeing the Battle of the Five Armies.
The reading, affectionately dubbed #Hobbitathon, originally had a target of £100,000 which was smashed before the adventure even began. At the time of writing, Serkis’ GoFundMe page sits at £283,115 with donations still coming in after the event has ended. The actor was recently honoured with an Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema award at the 2020 BAFTA Awards.
The funds will be split equally between Best Beginnings and NHS Charities Together, the former of which Serkis has been an ambassador of for over six years, calling it a cause close to his heart.
Funding will help Best Beginnings support the mental and physical health of pregnant families and new parents across the U.K., while NHS Charities Together launched an urgent appeal to support NHS staff, volunteers and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Words by Kate Goodyer