Thoughts on "Casting" Iluvatar

Scott Danneker

New Member
Portrayal of Iluvatar:

“But for a long while they sang only each alone, or but few together, while the rest harkened; for each comprehended only that part of the mind of Iluvatar from which he came and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly.” (Silmarillion, First American Edition P.15)

If the “part of the mind of Iluvatar” that each of the Ainur comprehends were to correspond to an elemental attribute of his, then his portrayal could perhaps be accomplished simply by using the image of whatever elemental attribute is being perceived and understood by each individual Ainur. Tolkein describes these perceptions very explicitly; so, when viewed by Yavanna, he would be growing and flowering, to Aule, he would have substance, to Manwe, Air, to Varda, Light, etc., etc. Over time, as the Ainur harmonize, the true image of Iluvater becomes more and more comprehensive but it will always remain incomplete and non-anthropomorphic at least until “The Great End”, but that’s not part of this story.

If this type of approach is adopted, the question would then become one of portraying how each of the Ainur visualize the attributes of Iluvatar as revealed, and how to clearly link them as being different parts of the same entity; i.e., with music, color, special imagery, etc.

Just some food for thought,



Chris Durston

New Member
I was actually toying with the idea of having many different voices for Iluvatar rather than one voice actor, but then I remembered he is the One and decided Keanu Reeves would do.

I like the idea of him having many appearances, since he is the One but also sort of everything - the issue then is just making sure he still appears similar enough to be recognisable each time.

Chris Durston

New Member
He's Neo, aka The One, in The Matrix. Google is your friend! He's sort of blank sometimes, and it was more of a stealth pun than anything. I'm not sure he'd actually do a great Iluvatar.

Ian McKellen, on the other hand...

Kyle Fox

New Member
I believe that Scott is correct about using symbols for the manifestation of Iluvatar, in the same way that the Burning Bush is a manifestation of God in the Bible. There is something profoundly haunting about Burning Bush, and I wonder if Iluvatar might take on a form such as this in our project.

When I think of the voice of Iluvatar, I imagine something like this, from the Prince of Egypt. It may be hard to hear in this version, but there are actually several voices overlapping each other giving the Burning Bush a very ethereal, spiritual voice.



New Member
I agree that Illuvatar should not be shown in any physical form. Many voices ran through my head from Patrick Stewart to Keith David. However, I don't think the voice should be too recognizable (i.e. Patrick Stewart) as that takes one out of the movie; or at least it does me ("Hey, it's Captain Picard as Illuvatar!) One actor that comes to mind I think could pull the voice off is Lance Henrickson. Great diction and a heavy baritone.


I do believe that his face should not be shown, since I think of Eru as I think of most gods, capable of displaying any form they want to show. So having an assigned face would kind of break the scheme for me.

I think it should be a mix of two or three voices, both male and female, so as to give Ilúvatar a more ethereal identity, because a single voice will be recogniced by someone eventually, more so if the actor becomes very famous in the future.


New Member
I like the idea of using multiple voices blended together for Ilúvatar, both male and female, and with many varied vocal characteristics. This would help convey the multifaceted nature of Ilúvatar. As an example, think of how they blended Gandalf and Saruman's voices in the two towers movie.

Along with the voices there should also be a blending of water sounds. In the Bible, God is often described as having "the voice of many waters". In the Silmarillion water is described as preserving most closely the music of the Ainur, which music is the most complete expression of the will of Ilúvatar. So sound elements of waves and waterfalls and streams should also be used.

As far as depicting him goes, I think the book makes the point pretty clear that he is corporeal, not just some ball of gas or light. During the music of the Ainur he raises his hands multiple times to introduce new themes. So at the very least we can infer that he has hands! :)

We also know that elves and men are the children of Ilúvatar and if they are children he must be a father. Children look like their fathers and vice versa so we can safely assume he looks like a blend of elves and men. In fact, if we ever do show Ilúvatar's face, we shouldn't pick just one actor, we could use CG and blend several actors faces into one beautiful, kind and endearing face. The kind of face that both elves and men would be drawn to.