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Stephen Colbert Explains How Gandalf Is a Maia Who’s Been in Arda Since Ilúvatar Cried “Eä!”

Stephen Colbert, Tolkien nerd
Tanya nae sai eina, hodoer.

Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

Stephen Colbert’s love of J.R.R. Tolkien is well-documented: When not schooling scientists on the difference between Sméagol and Gollum or utterly trouncing James Franco in Lord of the Rings trivia, he’s dressing up as characters from The Hobbit or receiving sword pledges from Viggo Mortensen. So great is his love of all things Tolkien that Colbert actually scored a small cameo in The Desolation of Smaug:

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So when you ask someone who loves Tolkien as much as Colbert does a Lord of the Rings-themed question, you’d better be prepared for a thorough answer. Audience members at The Late Show have learned that lesson, as evidenced by a compilation of pre-show Q&As that features Colbert talking about his favorite fantasy series. When asked for his favorite character, Colbert explains why Frodo would be nothing without Samwise Gamgee, and when asked who he’d most like to have as a guest on his show, he responds, well, Gandalf, of course. After all, he’s a Maia who’s been in Arda since Ilúvatar cried “Eä,” as Colbert so astutely points out.*

Colbert’s love of Tolkien is so great that he even makes a note in the edits to clarify a slip-up in his rant about the Valar, noting that he meant to call them “quasi-gods” rather than “demi-gods.” Tsk, tsk, Stephen. Time to dust off your copy of The Silmarillion.

*Correction, August 5, 2016:​ This post originally misquoted Colbert as saying that Ilúvatar cried “Aiya,” the Elvish word meaning “hail.” Colbert correctly states that Ilúvatar cried “Eä,” the Elvish word for the universe, which also means “be” or “exist.” Goheno nin, Stephen.

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