When Stephen Colbert morphs into the right-wing blowhard Stephen Colbert we see every night on The Colbert Report, that’s an act. It’s satire of the highest order.
But when Stephen Colbert morphs into “Lord of the Rings” icons Bilbo Baggins, and Legolas, and Gandalf—as he did for the cover of our magazine this week—that’s no act. That’s simply unapologetic fanboy Stephen Colbert relishing a chance to nerd out.
Our issue, and the stories he wrote for it—a Q&A with Peter Jackson, and an essay about his fandom—are pegged to the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies next weekend. But to watch Colbert get into costume, and character, in the time lapse above, it’s clear no hook was needed. He would have done this anytime.