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"The Lord of the Rings" stars back effort to help buy J.R.R. Tolkien's former home

Several "The Lord of the Rings" actors, including Sir Ian McKellen, John Rhys-Davies and Martin Freeman, are joining forces in an effort to help purchase the former home of famed author J.R.R. Tolkien.

The goal, organized by Project Northmoor, is to buy Tolkien's old house and turn it into a literary center dedicated to his works. British author Julia Golding has secured a three-month window to purchase the house from its current owners before it will be put on the open market, the group said in a news release. The fundraising target for the project is £4.5 million, or $6 million, which the project said it will use to "promote Tolkien's work, allow a diverse range of fantasy writers and artists to come together to write, learn and create, and preserve the fascinating house for future generations to enjoy." 

Project Northmoor, named for the street where the house is located, on Wednesday released a video featuring McKellen, who played Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" films; Freeman, who took on the role of Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit" trilogy; Rhys-Davis and several Tolkien scholars to promote its fundraising efforts.

"Unbelievably, considering his importance, there is no center devoted to Tolkien anywhere in the world," said John Rhys-Davies, the actor who played the dwarf Gimli and voiced Treebeard the ent in Peter Jackson's film adaptations of the books, in a statement. "The vision is to make Tolkien's house into a literary hub that will inspire new generations of writers, artists and filmmakers for many years to come."

Golding, an award-winning British author who is spearheading the project, told CBS News, "We've had an amazing response since we launched only a few hours ago."

"Tolkien releases an outpouring of what I can only call love and many people are giving multiple times to ensure names of loved ones make it into our Red Book of Funders," she added.

Joseph Loconte, author of "A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War" and a scholar featured in the video, told CBS News, "We have a remarkable opportunity to preserve this haven of creativity where Tolkien produced his epic tale of the struggle for Middle-earth. The home can become a place where writers and artists, like Tolkien, can find a refuge to create works of moral beauty."

The house, an hour's drive from London, has remained virtually unchanged since it was built in 1924. Tolkien and his family moved there in 1930 while he worked as a professor at Oxford University. During the 17 years Tolkien and his family lived at Northmoor, the author penned his most famous works, "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "The Hobbit." Tolkien also entertained many guests at the home, a number of whom were themselves influential writers, such as "The Chronicles of Narnia" author C.S. Lewis.

Fans of Tolkien who want to support Project Northmoor can donate now. The fundraiser will run until March 15, 2021. 

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