Don’t be fooled by Sean Astin’s plump appearance as Samwise Gamgee in “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy. The 42-year-old actor is an avid runner and has completed six marathons. And if all goes according to plan, Astin will be adding to that number Oct. 13 when he runs the Chicago Marathon.
“For a guy who played Rudy, I have to run the Chicago Marathon,” Astin joked over the phone Friday, referencing his famous role as a never-say-die walk-on football player for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 1993’s “Rudy.”
Astin, who is currently filming the Guillermo del Toro vampire drama “The Strain” for FX in Toronto, said he decided to run the Chicago Marathon when he learned that a friend was running it and realized his schedule would allow it. His schedule didn’t allow for much running during “Lord of the Rings,” mainly because he was required to be overweight for the role.
“I had to be fat,” Astin said. “For two years, I wasn’t allowed to run. ‘Lord of the Rings’ was the single greatest professional experience of my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat, but the fact that I couldn’t run was absolutely excruciating.”
Astin’s goal has always been to finish a marathon with a sub-four-hour time, but that goal gets more difficult the older he gets, he said. He believes, under the right weather conditions, he will finish the Chicago Marathon closer to 4 hours, 20 minutes.
Other celebs who have run the Chicago Marathon include Bill Rancic (“Giuliana & Bill”), who finished the 2001 race in 4:31; Anthony Edwards (“E.R.”), who ran the 2003 race in 3:55; country music singer Jo Dee Messina, who finished the 2007 race in 5:45; and Colin Egglesfield (“The Client List”), who finished the 2012 race in 3:35.
Many marathon participants run on behalf of a cause, but Astin didn’t have one early on. That’s why he created #Run3rd, an inspirational Twitter campaign.
“The thought came to me: I run first for myself, second for my wife and kids and third for you,” Astin said. “Thousands of people make these dedications on Twitter, and what I do is wear ‘#Run3rd’ (on race day) on behalf of all those people making the dedications. It’s not a money thing, it’s a way to provoke people to think about someone else.”