Here’s Definitive Evidence That Stephen Colbert Is An Apex Nerd
If you had to imagine a man about whom Lord of the Rings film director Peter Jackson said, “I have never met a bigger Tolkien geek in my life,” you’d probably envision an unkempt, unshaven shut-in resembling The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy. In reality, that “King Geek” is none other than late-night legend Stephen Colbert who, during the filming of The Hobbit trilogy, spent a brief time on Jackson’s set for a cameo performance. Colbert wowed the director and staff with his “encyclopedic knowledge” of Middle Earth and its history – Jackson even had a “Tolkien expert” on set to enforce authenticity, whom Colbert demolished in a head-to-head Tolkien trivia challenge.
There are plenty of famous nerds floating around the entertainment world – Henry Cavill is widely beloved for both his chiseled physique and his limitless passion for his favorite fantasy and sci-fi universes. But, for our money, the most underrated and unimaginably dorky dweeb in entertainment is Colbert – and he’s adding a new accolade to his nerd trophy case to sit next to his extensive Lord of the Rings sword collection.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Colbert and his production company, Spartina, will take part in creating the television adaptation for Roger Zelazny’s fantasy novel series, The Chronicles of Amber. A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin, a close friend of the late Zelazny, has identified The Chronicles of Amber as one of his favorite fantasy stories of all time, which means that Colbert is in charge of making your favorite fantasy author’s favorite fantasy series into a hit TV show. There can be no higher honor in nerdom – nor greater responsibility – than that lofty charge.
Colbert first began his lifelong obsession with everything fantasy when he began playing the massively popular and culturally significant tabletop game “Dungeons & Dragons” in the late 1970s. Colbert has credited these early roleplaying experiences as his first foray into improvisation, which would lead him to the lauded improv theaters of Chicago where he started his immense career in comedy.
The former Colbert Report host has made multiple appearances on the popular D&D web series “Critical Role,” on which he has explained his most esoteric and nerdy obsessions in excruciating detail. He even has an authentic, first edition copy of the 1979 D&D guidebook The Dungeon Master’s Guide which was signed by the game’s creator, Gary Gygax, at one of the earliest conventions for the game.
Colbert’s Tolkien infatuation has been a recurring topic during his late-night career – in 2012 The Colbert Report did four straight shows celebrating the return to Middle Earth in a cross-promotion for the release of the unfortunately underwhelming film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. “Hobbit Week” saw the entire set and production design overhauled to resemble what we assume Colbert’s bedroom looked like when he was 15 years old, complete with meticulous detail and over-the-top production value.
Then, in 2021, Colbert celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on The Late Show with “The Tolkien Rap,” an earnest, embarrassing, arhythmic celebration of the classic trilogy featuring cameos from some of the biggest names in the film franchise’s legendary cast.
Colbert’s newest nerd project will be his most ambitious foray into fantasy to date – Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber is chock full of layered and detail lore that delves into the “true” worlds of Amber and Chaos, as well as the shadow worlds that lie between. Zelazny’s ten novels total 1258 pages (about the length of the footnotes for one of Martin’s novels,) and they will require a superfan’s dedication to adapt faithfully – fortunately, Colbert is that superfan.
Colbert recently addressed Martin’s enthusiasm for the screen adaptation of his late friend Zelazny’s fantasy series, saying, “George R.R. Martin and I have similar dreams. I’ve carried the story of Corwin in my head for over 40 years, and I’m thrilled to partner with Skybound and Vincent Newman to bring these worlds to life. All roads lead to Amber, and I’m happy to be walking them.”
Don't trip and break your calculator, nerd.