Topher Grace Edited ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy to 2 Hours as Therapy After Playing David Duke

Grace plays the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman”

topher grace david duke
Getty Images; Associated Press

For Topher Grace, playing the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” was a mentally taxing role, but, he said, he had an interesting hobby to help him detox: film editing.

In an interview with IndieWire, Grace said that spending several months playing the KKK’s David Duke left him feeling depressed — to the point that not even the birth of his daughter during production could lift his spirits. “I was probably a terrible husband at the time,” he lamented. “It was so disturbing to go home and turn on the news to see how his ideology was affecting us at the moment.” (Duke was on the scene at the The Unite the Right rally — and ensuing counter-protests — in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly last year.)

Once filming wrapped, Grace took a break with an undertaking: turning Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy into a single, two-hour film. The decision by Warner Bros. and New Line to make J.R.R. Tolkien’s prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” into three movies, while financially successful, wasn’t popular with fans, even with the Oscar-winning “LOTR” director Peter Jackson at the helm.

Other fans have tried their hand at cutting off the fat that turned “The Hobbit” into a 400+ minute odyssey, with one fan putting out a four-hour cut akin to one of the extended editions of the “LOTR” installments. But Grace wanted to go even further, boiling it down to just 120 minutes.

“I think that maybe ‘The Hobbit’ should’ve been one movie, and many people would agree,” Grace said. “Money drives a lot of those franchises. It’s better when the art leads.”

This isn’t the first time Grace has tried re-editing a film. In 2012 he spliced together the “Star Wars” prequels into a single, 85-minute cut and was able to show it to a group of industry insiders before legal requirements forced him to put it away. But Grace isn’t doing this to show up other filmmakers or to “fix” their mistakes. To him, editing is the ultimate staycation.

“I don’t know what other guys do. Go fishing? For me, this is just a great way to relax,” he said. “There’s something really zen about it.”

“BlacKkKlansman” will hit theaters in select cities on Aug. 10.