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'Rings' and 'Things': Sean Astin discusses his movies at Fargo Theatre tonight

Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Special to The Forum1 / 3
Actor Sean Astin discusses his 30-plus year career in movies tonight at the Fargo Theatre. Special to The Forum2 / 3
Sean Astin in the title role of the 1993 underdog film, "Rudy". Special to The Forum3 / 3

FARGO—Sean Astin knows what people want to hear.

"The coolest thing about what I'm doing in Fargo is that it's not what I want to talk about, it's what people in Fargo want to talk about," he says.

What those who attend the actor's appearance at the Fargo Theatre tonight will most likely want to talk about will be his roles in the epic "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Goonies" and "Rudy."

Astin's visit is a fundraiser for the HERO (Healthcare Equipment Recycling Organization), the Fargo Theatre and its annual film festival.

While Astin has been in dozens of notable films and TV shows in his 30-year career—including "50 First Dates" and "24"—he thinks what's appealing to fans about his roles in his big three is a similarity between the characters.

"There's a sense of friendship, integrity, work ethic and ambition," he says. "Well, I'm not sure Samwise Gamgee was ambitious."

Sam, of course, was Frodo's faithful best friend, moral and physical support in "LOTR". While that franchise was one of the most popular in film history, Astin says when he meets fans at festivals, they more often have him autograph a picture from "The Goonies."

"It touched people's childhood and makes people feel good in a special way. It was fun, but heartfelt," he says of the 1985 adventure classic, released when he was just 14.

He's coming full circle in a way. On Oct. 27, Netflix releases season 2 of "Stranger Things," introducing Astin as Bob Newby, a Radio Shack employee and former classmate of Joyce (Winona Ryder) who becomes her boyfriend. The show, centered around a group of boys in 1983 trying to find their missing friend, Joyce's son, who has been brought to a parallel universe by a monster, referenced a number of 1980s movies with "The Goonies" being a strong inspiration.

Astin hadn't heard of the series until fans told him he had to see it because of homages to "The Goonies." He saw a trailer and thought it was more like "Poltergeist," and while he's not a fan of scary movies, he decided to give it a watch. Like many others, he ended up binge-watching the whole season.

"It was just the right mixture of laser-targeted nostalgia and a great story," Astin says.

The new season is already developing lots of buzz and speculation, none of which Astin can address until the show airs.

While he can't reveal anything about "Stranger Things," he can talk about the strangest things that have happened when he's met fans in the past.

"There have been a lot," he says, thinking about it. "Proposals. I've been proposed to. I've been married 26 years, but out of courtesy, you've got to give it a second or two."

He says there's also the awkward request to autograph someone's body.

"I'm on a strict no-body-part-signing agreement with my wife," he adds.

While it's not strange, he says the reception he gets from fans is always the most memorable.

"The most amazing experience over the last 15 years (when the "LOTR" trilogy concluded) is that people give me art. Pictures of Sam, or poems, or songs. It's an amazing thing when people give you something that they made, inspired by something that you have done. It's a very powerful, emotional experience," he says, adding that when possible he keeps the gifts and adds to his collection of fan art.

He's thankful for not only the fans' reactions, but also for the opportunities he's received, but keeps looking for his next great project.

Still, there's one thing he wishes a fan could give him—an impersonation of himself.

"Everyone can do Smeagol, but Samwise shouldn't be that hard," He says, reciting Gollum's catchphrase, "My precious," and then Sam's big line to Frodo, "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you."

"I haven't made it yet," he says with a laugh. "(My characters) have been parodied, and I've met people who could be my stunt double, but no one does impersonations of Sean. If I die today, I will have failed because I've never been parodied."

Astin intends to be around for a long time and has no intention of dying because, as his character Mikey said 32 years ago, "Goonies never say die."

Jeff Cohen, Sean Astin, Corey Feldman and Jonathan Ke Quan in 1985's "The Goonies." Special to The Forum

If You Go

What: An evening with Sean Astin

When: 7 p.m., tonight

Where: The Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway

Info: Tickets range from $15 to $40., (866) 300-8300