This song plays during the end credits of the Hobbit movie The Desolation of Smaug. Director Peter Jackson and his co-producer wife Fran Walsh chose to Sheeran to write and perform the tune following the advice of their daughter. "'I See Fire' is Ed's emotional response to the film," said Jackson. "It's perfect."
Sheeran watched the film, wrote the song, and recorded most of it in the same day. "I was allowed complete freedom to create what I thought was fitting for the film, which is very rare, and Peter, Fran and Philippa [Boyens, screenwriter] were always on hand to give notes and pointers," he said. "The entire team down in New Zealand was out of this world."
Despite having never played violin in his whole life, Sheeran choose to perform it himself via overdubbing. He tweeted: "I got the chance to produce and play all the instruments on it apart from the cello. Managed to learn violin for a day, hope you all dig it."
The Hobbit was the first book that Sheeran ever read as a child. "I'm still geeking out that I've done a song for a Peter Jackson film set in Middle-earth!," he said.
Sheeran tried to get into the right mindset when penning the tune. "I've never been a dwarf, but I've wrote a song from the perspective of being a dwarf," he told MTV News.
Sheeran added that he was instructed by director Peter Jackson to focus on a particular part of the movie. "Peter said, 'Focus on the last ten minutes. That's what the song needs to reflect.'" He said, "'Write a song that takes the audience by the hand and leads them from Middle Earth back into reality.' So, yeah, I tried to do that."
Sheeran explained to Jam! Music why he came up with a lilting, Celtic-influenced tune for the song. "The first idea I had for this song was something epic," he said. "But it seemed like, when I watched the film, my heart was pumping so much. It's so intense, I felt I needed a way to ease people out of the theaters."
The song was an international hit, topping the singles chart in several countries including New Zealand, Norway, The Philippines and Sweden.
A cover by the pop-opera trio Sol3 Mio was released as New Zealand's anthem for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.