“Oh my God, I’m in Lord of the Rings!”
Amazon is going all out The Lord of the Rings. Their next series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power takes place thousands of years before JRR Tolkien The Lord of the Rings books (and director Peter Jackson’s famous trilogy) and would be one of the most expensive shows of all time. The sprawling series, which has been in production in New Zealand since early 2020, features a massive cast of over 20 main actors playing the roles of kings, queens, elves, dwarves and a number of beings. mysterious mystics.
After appearing at the recent San Diego Comic Con panel, the cast, most of whom have never been in a mainstream project like this, spoke to me about the experience of stepping into Middle-earth.
Here are edited excerpts:
I imagine it’s a unique opportunity to be part of such an ambitious series. What was the most surreal moment that I can’t believe actually happened on set?
Morfydd Clark / Galadriel: There were so many surreal moments that it’s hard to narrow them down. I think for me it was my first day where we were shooting some of the scenes for Northern Waste. We were in a studio and there was just snow everywhere and it was one of the few green screen moments during filming. We were in this huge open studio space and it was the first time I could see the whole team, because usually there are partitions and everything. That day, I was like “Woah!” and I realized that I was part of this huge machine.
Cynthia Addai-Robinson/ Miriel: I have a lot of moments like that, but there are two that come to mind. My first day of filming took place on top of a mountain. As in… a real one. I had to take a helicopter to the top of a mountain for the shooting. It was my first “shit” moment.
I had another similar moment on my first day of filming in Numenor. I play a queen and this is my kingdom. When they brought me on set, I was in full costume, the set was full of extras, the incense was burning, the water was lapping on the banks, and I just had this “Oh my god” moment. , I am in The Lord of the Rings!” That was lovely.
Trystan Gravelle/ Pharazôn: There’s a scene where I’m talking to a massive crowd of people in Numenor Square during which the crowd bursts out and I shove them. During this scene, I had this out of body experience for a minute. You look around at the crowd, the costumes, the sprawling set, the hair and makeup and you think, “This is crazy.” You have been propelled into this fantasy world that everyone loves and you hold the torch now and realize that this is your moment.
Ema Horvath/Eärien: There is a scene at the beginning with Maxim Baldry [Isildur] and me on a beach, which was shot in three days. Usually I’m used to there being a single camera and restrictions on where you can and can’t go. Here they said you could go anywhere and we would get you. Here, there were three cameras on cranes and they said, “You can go anywhere and we’ll take you. It was then that I realized this was going to be a very different experience.
Leon Wadham/Kemen: I think for me it would be seeing the Numenor set for the first time. They spent the first half of filming building the city and when I arrived it was like dirt and wooden poles. And in the second half of filming, they had built an entire city. There was even a port and boats on the water. It was the most incredibly rich and detailed set. They built entire city blocks and the level of detail was insane. The island was gifted by the elves and if you go to the older parts of the whole you can feel this relationship with the elves and the elvish influence in the architecture. They’ve really succeeded in integrating the story into the design. I don’t understand how they did it, but it was amazing.
Tyroe Muhafidin/ Theo: I thought about it every day (laughs). Every day I was there was crazy. There were tents everywhere, these big cameras on cranes and people running around. But for me, it would definitely be when I got in that makeup truck for the first time and sat in that chair and thought, “Wow, this is really happening.”
Considering the scale of the show, there are so many elements that help bring this world to life. Not to mention the legacy of books and movies. What do you think is the hardest part of telling this story?
Morfydd Clark / Galadriel: I think he wants to make sure we create something that evokes Tolkien’s Middle-earth. It’s as much about creating this expansive world as it is creating characters and creating this feeling of these people.
Leon Wadham/Kemen: I think the scariest part is this track right now. Because when you actually run it, you’re just telling a story. Now that we’re at Comic Con and seeing this crazy crowd of people, it’s not something I had planned. Some of the cast and crew have been in New Zealand for years and now sharing it with the world just wasn’t something I had considered in my life. I think that’s the scariest.
Cynthia Addai-Robinson/ Miriel: I think the hardest part is not being too swallowed up by its magnitude. There’s an intimacy to a lot of the story and a lot of my scenes are just with another character. Yes, it’s grand and epic, but at the end of the day, it’s always about relationships and conflict and how these characters relate to each other. So instead of thinking about all the amazing things around me, I try to focus on humanity and other actors and people. I think it was always good to look someone in the eye and bring them back there.
Ema Horvath/Eärien: I think it’s the legacy. Tolkien is so loved in so many countries and so many cultures. It’s not just a British or American project. It is a global project. And it’s terrifying.
Tyroe Muhafidin/ Theo: I would say dealing with the tougher fans who can sometimes be a little too quick to judge. They can be really mean. When the trailer first came out, I got a lot of it in DMs and it was pretty tough. When you put that much effort into something, you want people to like it. But there are always people like that. It’s pretty hard to close that sometimes.
Trystan Gravelle/ Pharazôn: On the one hand, there is the macro of it. Just gathering everything and everyone on the other side of the world, going to New Zealand. There are so many cogs that need to work to bring a show like this to life. And I think they did an incredible job, everyone who worked there did an incredible job.