In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, after Théoden exiles him, Grima Wormtongue takes refuge with Saruman. Saruman is shown creating a large explosive device, and then Saruman and Grima go out onto one of Orthanc's balconies to survey Saruman's army of 10,000+ Uruk-hai.

After Saruman says, "To war!", a single tear rolls down the left side of Grima's face as he looks over the army of Uruk-hai.

Screen capture of Grima crying

Why was Grima crying?

I know this isn't addressed in the movie itself, but would like to know if it's addressed in any of the LOTR special features or in the book The Two Towers.

I'm wondering if Grima had second thoughts about betraying Rohan when he saw the Uruk-hai? Or if he thinking of Éowyn and what he believes to be her imminent doom? I did research this question, and while it's been asked before, the majority of answers that came up were either from 2003, before the extended editions and special features were released, or the essays were no longer at the URL that was cached.

  • 2
    That scene is not in the book, so I'll leave it to someone who's watched the special features.
    – dlanod
    Apr 13, 2012 at 10:27
  • 5
    I suspect it's because Grima's primary goal was to own/control Théoden and his region, not destroy them which he realised was going to happen. But I've not seen the special features so I'll leave this as a comment.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Apr 13, 2012 at 11:50
  • While I've mostly watched all of the special features of the DVD editions (all 16 hours of them), I don't recall this being mentioned. My guess would be what @Pureferret said.
    – Xantec
    Apr 13, 2012 at 13:31
  • @Xantec to answerdom with my comment!
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jun 6, 2012 at 23:54
  • 1
    I've always interpreted it as some kind of twisted pride, awe, reverie, patriotism, etc. rather than grief. Wormtongue was remarkably unrepentant in the book, so I've always perceived this in that context, i.e. unmitigated loyalty to and passion for Saruman's vision. Consequently, he gets emotional as he sees the vision coming true. But that's just my speculation.
    – Matt
    Mar 11, 2014 at 18:21

6 Answers 6


The book doesn't address this, because the chronology is all wrong. Wormtongue doesn't arrive at Isengard until the Ents have already destroyed it.

  • 8
    You're not wrong, but I think a high-quality answer would have addressed why he's crying rather just offering a yes/no on the question of whether it's covered in the books.
    – Valorum
    Mar 11, 2014 at 17:56
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    The question asks why Grima cried in the movie, the answer says he doesn't cry in the book. Definitely true, only how does this answer the question?
    – Malcolm
    Jan 11, 2015 at 16:23

As others have said, this scene is not in the books. That leaves the materials associated with the film to answer this question.

The people behind the film discuss Grima's awe or regret in the DVD commentary for The Two Towers.

Brad Dourif (actor who portrayed Grima Wormtongue): There is no other character who could have brought over to the audience what was about to happen, who could have sold the awe. I mean, you can't ... When you look at a picture of something, it isn't the picture that sells it, you know. I mean the fact that he did an allusion to "Triumph of the Will", but that in of itself is not enough, but when you have the person that made it happen suddenly, absolutely come to grips with what it is that he has done, then it's scary. It's the perfect thing to do that suddenly makes an impact. That's story telling.

Peter Jackson (director): This is Nuremburg really. That is the obvious influence for all this stuff. That sort of imagery is so potent and it is usefull to dip into those historical references just to press buttons in people.

Philippa Boyens (screenplay): I loved that performance from Brad Dourif just showing that Wormtongue was a man once - what has he done - what has he unleashed?

As you can see, Dourif the actor speaks to Grima's awe at the army while Boyens the screenwriter speaks to Grima's sorrow for humanity. In the end, it looks like it is still up for debate. You can side with the actor who shed the tear or the screenwriter who possibly wrote in the tear (there is no official script I could find so whether this was improvised on the set or written in the script is open too). Grima is not a one-dimensional character in the film so it is possible he can feel awe and sorrow at the same time.

The above quotes taken from a message board discussion. I do not have the films on hand so I cannot confirm what was said from the films directly.

  • 3
    My hat off to you good Sir.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jun 7, 2012 at 10:37
  • 1
    An excellent answer. One that directly speaks to the character's feelings.
    – Valorum
    Mar 11, 2014 at 17:57
  • This answers the question best; it should be accepted. May 25, 2014 at 3:17
  • 2
    I see it as a kind of frightened awe - something akin to standing on a beach and seeing a 100-foot tsunami wave coming your way.
    – Omegacron
    Jan 29, 2015 at 20:22

I suspect it's because Grima's primary goal was to own/control Théoden and his region, not destroy them which he realised was going to happen.


Tolkien said in the "Unfinished Tales" that Grima was captured by the Nazgul while on a courier mission for Isengard. It was he that told Sauron where the Shire was. Until that time all Sauron knew was that the Ring was held by "Baggins" of "the Shire." Grima became Sauron's agent, not Saruman's, and he was to report on Saruman to Sauron just as he reported on Theoden to Saruman. He was a double traitor. His tears at seeing Saruman's army were at the prospect of being given command after Saruman had outlived his usefulness. Grima may also have been the "yellow-faced" man in Bree who told the Nazgul of "Baggins'" presence at the Inn. Tolkien originally said it was Grima but in later versions simply called him the yellow-faced man.

  • 1
    Nice, interesting extra fact, but it doesn't seem to fit the movie maker's intentions, as they didn't try to make that fact fit into the movie, although they could have.
    – ohmi
    Mar 11, 2014 at 19:31

I love this scene because it's so hilarious. I think he cries because he is in awe of the sight of the army -- awe meaning both veneration and dreadful fear.

  • 1
    I agree! Well, maybe not the hilarious part, but I mostly thought they were just the tears of a slightly insane man who thinks that the sight of that much power is just too glorious not to cry at!
    – Quintis555
    Jun 6, 2012 at 18:14

o! He was crying, because Saruman was all like "Kill all in your path!" when he sent the army to Helm's Deep. And Eowyn was at Helm's Deep. Ouch. Remember, Grima loves Eowyn, and the Uruk-Hai and orcs are going to kill her. Or so he thinks.

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