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lord of the rings

Pop Culture

Sean Astin has the best response to a fan struggling with severe depression

Sometimes we just need to be reminded by Samwise Gamgee that the darkness will pass.


Can you imagine getting this kind of pep talk from one of your heroes?

Depression hits different folks in different ways. But whether it’s an occasional episode of the blues or more long-lasting, debilitating clinical depression, there are two factors that only make the ache worse: one, the pervading loneliness from feeling like no one can possibly understand what you’re going through, and two, wondering if the storm will ever truly pass.

That’s why an encouraging word from a loved one can be helpful during these low episodes. Or in this case, from Samwise Gamgee.

Lord of the Rings” actor Sean Astin was recently signing autographs at Knoxville’s Fanboy Expo when a female fan (@easttnelvira on TikTok) opened up about how one of his character’s iconic lines had been helping her through “severe depression.”

Astin knew exactly what line she was referencing, and without missing a beat said, “Even darkness will pass and a new day will come.”

But he didn’t stop there. Astin then validated the woman’s experience in a lighthearted way (“You know what the best part about severe depression is? NOTHING! It blows!") before reminding her that, just as the quote promises, “It gets better.”

He even took her hand, looked her right in the eyes, and said, “You know what’s wrong with you? Nothing. Absolute nothing. I’m sorry it’s hard sometimes…Be strong. I love you.”

Can you believe that? Girlie came for an autograph but unlocked a new core memory instead.

@easttnelvira I met one of my childhood heroes Sean Astin today and he offered me some words of wisdom and encouragement over the battles of depression that I needed to hear. I am so glad this was captured on video to remember this moment, cherish, and reflect on anytime I am feeling down. I hope anyone else who struggles with depression takes his words and kindness to heart too. 🖤 #seanastin #samwisegamgee #lordoftheringstiktok #lotr #lotrtok #lordoftherings #fanboyexpoknoxville #fyp #trending ♬ original sound - 𝖊𝖆𝖘𝖙𝖙𝖓𝖊𝖑𝖛𝖎𝖗𝖆

In the clip's caption, the woman wrote, “I am so glad this was captured on video to remember this moment, cherish, and reflect on anytime I am feeling down. I hope anyone else who struggles with depression takes his words and kindness to heart too.”

Even her boyfriend, who filmed the whole thing, felt some residual joy. “I can say with confidence she was overwhelmingly ecstatic to the point of happy tears. This meant the world to her and seeing the person you love that happy was a moment I'll remember forever,” he wrote.

As the touching interaction began making the rounds on TikTok and Reddit, viewers couldn’t help but praise Astin for showing authentic compassion.

“He said it with the conviction of someone who means it 100%,” one person wrote.

Another added, “All that validation with a good solid bit of empathy and encouragement. This is a VERY thoughtful and helpful way to reply.”

Some were quick to point out that Astin’s mother, sitcom actress Patty Duke, had her own struggles with bipolar disorder, which led her to become a mental health advocate. Astin has followed in his mother’s footsteps, regularly championing the importance of seeking help and self-forgiveness

And then, of course, some folks just wanted to bask in how Astin is one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. As one person commented, “Oh Sean, you are one of the good ones from my generation. We are lucky to have grown with you and see how great you’ve become.”

“That is a man who has seen every fan, done every photo, shaken every hand. And he’s still out here, loving and caring for people,” seconded another.

Be it carrying a cursed ring back to Mordor whence it came, or carrying a heavy emotional burden, struggles are easier to manage with support on your side. It can be hard to know exactly what to say to someone going through severe depression in a way that truly helps them feel supported, but take a page from Astin’s book and start with empathy.

"Lord of the Rings" actor Viggo Mortensen played the peace-seeking warrior-king Aragorn.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."

While Mortensen's life outside Middle Earth doesn't involve wielding a sword, he is a warrior for peace.

As a publisher and activist, his weapon of choice isn't cold steel — it's words.

Words reforged from the shards of Narsil, that is. GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."

In an interview with "Democracy Now!" he unsheathed a response to people who have criticized him and other American celebrities for speaking out against injustices.

Mortensen doesn't think any of us, celebrity or not, should yield to the powers that be when we know what they're doing is wrong.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."

Here are a few moments from the interview that cut to the heart of the matter:

Famous people are still allowed to care about things.

GIF from "Democracy Now!"

"[T]here are people who might watch this show and just say, 'Well, there's another jerk from the entertainment business shooting his mouth off.' I'm a citizen of this country. I'm a citizen of the world. ... I have as much right as anybody else to do that. How does a democracy work? How does freedom work? It works like that. People talking about what's going on."

That said, celebrities' opinions aren't worth more than anyone else's.

GIF from "Democracy Now!"

"Being someone in the entertainment business does not give you more right than anyone else to speak, and it certainly doesn't give you less right."

At the end of the day, we just have to remind elected officials that they work for all of us.

GIF from "Democracy Now!"

"[Critics say,] 'You're a movie maker, you don't have a right to speak. Let the politicians speak about politics.' Well, I think that letting our rulers decide how to govern us is not... we haven't had a great history there."

Celebrities who are vocal about politics are some of the easiest targets for public scorn.

But whether or not I agree, I'm glad for the ones who are informed, mindful of their influence, and willing to put themselves out there for what's right. Overcoming global challenges requires a global turnout to the conversation and a lot of hope in our ability to work together.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

And if it takes Aragorn, High King of the Reunited Kingdom (I mean ... who better?) — or the actor and concerned citizen who portrays him, anyway — to get people talking about issues like war, imperialism, racism, and police brutality, then bring it on.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."

Check out part one of the interview:

For more, see parts two, three, and four.