Lord of the Rings star Dominic Monaghan on his new movie

·4-min read
Photo credit: Signature
Photo credit: Signature

Though it's been twenty years since the first Lord of the Rings films debuted, Dominic Monaghan may still be best known as the mischief-making hobbit Merry. He's a familiar face to many: he's also starred in Lost, appeared in Star Wars and X-Men.

Despite its title, his latest movie Edge of the World doesn't take place in space or with mutants, but rather in Borneo. It's the true story of James Brooke (played in this film by Vikings star Jonathan Rhys Meyers) a former soldier in the Bengal Army who sailed to Borneo in 1839, where he helped the Sultan of Brunei's governor put down a local rebellion and took over as governor of what became the Raja of Sarawak as his own private kingdom.

But his story was not without trials and tribulations, which have been the inspiration for stories since the 1880s. As for Monaghan, his role was as Colonel Arthur Crookshank, and his main reason for signing on was a love of nature.

Photo credit: Signature
Photo credit: Signature

"I'm a crazy, crazy nature fan," Monaghan tells Digital Spy. "I've probably been to Borneo three or four times, maybe more. It's not that often that films come across my lap that are exclusively made in South East Asia.

"And, you know, as an actor, you always want to be working. At the time, I thought, 'Well, I'm not working. There's nothing that I'm currently doing that's going to have a conflict with this.' And I love travelling. So I rolled the dice, you know?"

"Knowing that we were going to go to Sarawak for a couple of months, I thought, 'Well, that's really cool.'"

Photo credit: Signature
Photo credit: Signature

It was a story that interested him, too. "You know, I'd seen The Man Who Would Be King when I was younger. I've read Heart of Darkness a couple of times because Apocalypse Now is my favourite film. And it had elements of those things.

"It was a historical story that I wasn't fully aware of. But I read it quite quickly."

Brooke's story is compelling, but it's hard not to shake the pervasiveness of colonialism that permeates not only our reading of history but also this film in particular. Edge of the World does show Brooke at odds with the British Empire, and Monaghan's read on the story is one of empathy.

"I think he left an England that didn't speak to his lifestyle," Monaghan says. "I think he looked around at his own native country, and thought, 'These people don't really feel like my people.' You know? And he had the money and the freedom to go travel.

Photo credit: Signature
Photo credit: Signature

"I think he was a romantic at the heart of his narrative. He got to a country where— and I think maybe this is one of the reasons I did the film. He was charmed by that part of the world. He probably had a different sexuality that was not fully embraced in England. And when he got to Borneo, they were like, 'We don't really care what you do, as long as you're a nice person.'

"Then having the British Empire say to him, 'Oh, if you're in that part of the world, why don't you adopt some of these things we do as members of the British Empire?' And he rejected that ultimately because that's the reason why he left in the first place."

How true the events of the film are is uncertain, but it was made with the support of the Sarawak Tourism Board and The Brooke Heritage Trust was the movie's technical advisor. In the end, though, for Monaghan, it's another film he can add to his roster that takes him to extraordinary places.

Edge of the World is now available on Amazon Prime Video and Google Play

This month, Digital Spy Magazine counts down the 50 greatest LGBTQ+ TV characters since the Stonewall riots. Read every issue now with a 1-month free trial, only on Apple News+.

Interested in Digital Spy's weekly newsletter? Sign up to get it sent straight to your inbox – and don't forget to join our Watch This Facebook Group for daily TV recommendations and discussions with other readers.

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting