Melissa "Fiver" Kern (born March 8, 1974) is an American actress who played a Hobbit in the extended edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Melissa was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease which caused all her motor neurons to shut down, gradually making her muscles unable to function.
Filming in The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyEdit
In Spring of 2008, Melissa was excited about the filming of The Hobbit sequels, but was apprehensive about the release dates of the films. She didn’t even know if she would still be alive when these movies are released. Her husband, Chris told her to make that her goal: to be around to see these films in the theater, but he didn't want to take that chance. He started Project Fiver with the mission of delivering a petition to Peter Jackson, asking that Melissa would be cast as a costumed hobbit extra in the film. Even if she would not there when the movies are released, just being part of the production of The Hobbit, even if it’s just sitting at a table in the background, will absolutely mean the world to her and be a reason to hold on.
Melissa has done an incredible amount to promote Tolkien Fellowship. She has been a key member of the Tolkien Track at DragonCon for several years, and has also volunteered with the Young Adult Literature track there. She has been an active member on TheOneRing.net, co-leader of ArmsOfMiddleEarth.com and member of numerous LotR-Related Moots, and Meet-Up groups in the Atlanta area. Additionally, she has helped organize local Release Parties for the Harry Potter books and coordinated with movie theaters to have a crew of costumed Pirates raise money for the AMC Stars of Hope Charity at the Pirates of the Caribbean movie premieres. Many in these groups have been asking what they can do to help her out and lift her spirits, and Project Fiver's Petition to the Hobbit was her husbands best answer.
Melissa was just one of those people who knows everyone, and people never forgot. Through emails, blogs and message boards, word of Project Fiver spread quickly. Chris kept it secret for a month and revealed it to her on her birthday, March 8th. By that time they had 844 signatures on the petition. Two months later Chris and Melissa had 4000, and in May they got a call from a representative for The Hobbit's company in New Zealand. Chris' plan was to collect the petitions and send them all with his request, but apparently many people contacted them directly as well. (Some of the petitioners are staff in the company, working on the film!)
While the official production of the film has suffered many setbacks and delays, they have a virtual handshake agreement that they will work to make Melissa's wish to come true -- for her to be a part of the film -- once production started.
Until then, Project Fiver was a rally point for Melissa's efforts to raise money for ALS Research and support of the families affected by the disease. She captained the team "Fiver's Flamingos" in the ALS Association's WALK TO DEFEAT ALS every November, and helped raise awareness of the disease in the community. All this on top of helping Chris raise their son, Matthew.