"The Lord of the Rings" was one of the most popular series in film history, earning over $2.9 billion worldwide and raking in an amazing 17 Oscars.
And, to nobody's surprise, the stars of "The Lord of the Rings" have since gone on to become major film and television stars: Viggo Mortensen has had acclaimed turns in movies like "A History of Violence," Orlando Bloom topped the box office again with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy, Dominic Monaghan anchored the cult classic TV show "Lost." The list goes on and on.
But one name is conspicuously absent from that list: Billy Boyd.
Boyd, of course, played the lovably naive hobbit Pippin. And even before "The Lord of the Rings" was out of theaters, he seemed on the verge of major stardom, appearing in the 2004 Best Picture nominee "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" (which lost to "The Return of the King").
But since the end of "The Lord of the Rings," Boyd has seemingly dropped off the face of the planet even as fellow hobbits Monaghan, Sean Astin and Elijah Wood have remained Hollywood heroes. So with "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" about to open in theaters, we thought we'd finally ask the question: Billy Boyd — where you at?
Indie Film: Boyd may not be appearing in Hollywood mega-blockbusters, but that doesn't mean he's abandoned film. Instead, he's turned to small budget indies, co-starring in little films like 2005's "On a Clear Day" and 2010's "Glenn, the Flying Robot." He also had a role in this year's "The Forger," which co-starred the likes of Josh Hutcherson and the legendary Lauren Bacall. In other words, he's still around if you know where to look, he's just keeping the kind of low profile you'd expect from an experienced hobbit.
Television: But Billy hasn't just been dipping his toes into the world of arthouse cinema; he's also been making regular appearances on British television. For instance, he co-starred alongside fellow Glasgow native Gregor Fisher in the 2008 BBC sitcom "Empty." And he's also kept active by appearing in mini-series such as "Moby Dick" and "The Witches of Oz." In other words, while he hasn't been making many appearances stateside, he still has a pretty high profile over in the UK.
So why has he decided to keep things local instead of chasing superstardom like his fellow hobbits? Well, it's probably because of his many other interests, such as ...
Training: Hobbits may appear on screen to be gentle and pacifistic — if undoubtedly courageous — beings, but off screen, Boyd has actually turned himself into quite the fighting machine. No, seriously: Besides earning Phase Four certifications in both Jeet Kune Do (that's the martial arts technique created by Bruce Lee!) and Filipino Kali (which teaches stick and knife fighting) disciplines, Boyd is also a Grade 7 fencing expert. Note to any Uruk-hai that may be reading: Don't even think about it, suckers.
Surfing: Okay, so Scotland isn't exactly famous as a hotbed of surfing, but don't tell Boyd that. An avid surfer who spent much of his free time during the long shoot of "Lord of the Rings" surfing the New Zealand coast, Boyd still hits the waves at every opportunity and is happy to tell anyone who will listen about the surfing pedigree of his homeland. "I still love to get into the water and I always feel better once I've had a little surf," Boyd told The Scotsman. "Machrihanish on the west coast, Pease Bay or Coldingham if I go east. If you get the right direction of swell it can be just beautiful there, as good as I've had anywhere."
Music: Like many actors, Boyd also turns to music as another outlet for his creative passions. Unlike many actors, however, Boyd actually has musical talent; his band, Beecake, won the Tartan Clef Music Award for Best Live Act in Scotland. Beecake also released a new EP earlier this year, "Please Stay," along with a music video for the title track. In fact, here it is right here:
Writing: Beecake, by the way, was named by fellow hobbit Dominic Monaghan, who has remained besties with Boyd ever since they made "Lord of the Rings." Hey, facing down a horde of orcs together builds a bond that can't be broken. But when these two get together to hang out it's not just all music and surfing and smoking the halfling's leaf; Boyd and Monaghan are also currently hard at work writing a screenplay together. Of course, they've also said they have no plans to ever produce it, but you now what, it almost doesn't matter. Just knowing that these two are together somewhere writing a script is enough to put a smile on our faces.
Family: And, of course, here's the main reason Boyd has stayed home in Scotland rather than running off to Hollywood to chase big movie roles: He's raising a family. He and wife Alison McKinnon live in Boyd's hometown of Glasgow; they had a son, Jack, back in 2006 and were married in a small 2010 ceremony that was, of course, attended by Boyd's fellow hobbits Monaghan and Elijah Wood.
So where is Billy Boyd at? Surfing, writing, acting, making music and starting a family — it looks to us as though, far from the madness of Hollywood, Boyd may have put together the happiest ending of all.