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Andy Serkis is reading The Hobbit online for 12 hours straight

The actor who played Gollum will only take brief bathroom or lunch breaks during his reading to raise money to help fight coronavirus.

Gollum (er, Andy Serkis) is helping raise money to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
New Line Cinema
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Actor Andy Serkis, who portrayed the creepy character Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, is reading J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved 1937 novel The Hobbit in its entirety online on Friday to raise money to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Serkis explained the project on his GoFundMe page, which went live on Thursday.

"So many of us are struggling in isolation during the lockdown," Serkis wrote. "While times are tough, I want to take you on one of the greatest fantasy adventures ever written, a 12-hour armchair marathon across Middle-earth." 

The livestream started today at 10 a.m. GMT, which is 2 a.m. PT. Serkis is only taking short breaks during the reading. 

Serkis said the money raised will support two UK charities: Best Beginnings and NHS Charities Together. He's set a goal of £100,000 ($123,00 or AU $190,000). Fourteen hours after he posted the page, he was already more than halfway to that goal.

Serkis also promised that if the fundraising target is reached, "there may be a special surprise later in our journey." 

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Hobbit author J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973, but his words continue to have relevance, especially during the coronavirus outbreak, it seems. David Rowe, who manages the Tolkien Proverbs Twitter account, told me he's a fan of the Serkis reading idea.

"Serkis has become one of the treasures of the Tolkien world," Rowe said in an email. "so when we are all seeking comfort and encouragement, few voices could be better for leading us from Bag End to the Lonely Mountain and back again."