In today’s cast spotlight, we focus on the confirmation of Maxim Baldry, possibly the least surprising entry on Amazon’s recently released Wave Two cast list.
Linked to the Middle-earth project since October 2019, he’s a young, surging British actor who is no stranger to sustained roles in series television. With roots in youth theater, eleven-year old Maxim’s first big break came when paired as Rowan Atkinson’s young sidekick, Stepen, in the 2007 comedy, Mr. Bean’s Holiday.
During the same year, he then made the shift to both epic and cable television, starring as the son of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, Caesarion, in three episodes HBO’s Rome.
A Númenorian princeling?
The series television seed was now deeply planted, with Maxim taking on an 80-episode role in the long-running Channel 4 British soap opera, Hollyoaks, in 2016-17. The producers billed his entry as “a new injection of infectious energy,” offering the show a bright new love interest who “always bails on relationships before they get too serious.”
With experience in both film and television, Baldry seems to favor the latter, describing the medium as offering the potential for something “more empathetic, and more powerful.” That’s just the path that he’s pursued in his last two series. Drawing on his Eastern European roots (he grew up speaking Russian, moving to the UK when he was 7), Maxim’s most recent projects have included a multi-episode run as an Albanian operative in Sky One/Cinemax’s Strike Back, along with a prominent profile in BBC1’s Years and Years. That show has stretched his range, in particular with its extended timeframe that forced Baldry to play his character, the Ukrainian refugee Viktor Garaya, as he ages over 15 years: exactly the kind of experience one might need for an extended Númenorian role, perhaps?
More to the spirit of Tolkien, Maxim describes Years and Years as “exploring epic themes done in a fragile way… cathartic and real, and about human emotions” that demonstrate “getting through it together with love and kindness.” That sounds like the kind of guy a certain Second Age elf queen might like to have around.
But Amazon’s newly named actors can’t all be protagonists, certainly. When Baldry’s name first started circulating a year ago, some were convinced that he’d make a fitting contribution to Middle-earth’s version of the Dark Side, with some speculation he could even be the more seductive, ring-making and Númenor-breaking version of Sauron, Annatar. And he does suit up well in black!
Perhaps Maxim’s most personal project to date has been the 2019 musical/short film fusion that he has written and produced: Melodie Saviour. The work seems to take an autobiographical turn, delving into a tumultuous path of self-expression, a desire for significance, and finding one’s true voice. In some ways, it is a contemporary work that finds common ground with Tolkien’s own personal artistic probing in his short story, Leaf by Niggle. Baldry’s short even starts with a soulful up-close examination of a painted tree.
Editor Note: Join TheOneRing.net as we focus on the recent cast member announcements for Amazon TV’s The Lord of the Rings inspired TV series. Throughout the month, and as part of our Tolkien Advent Calendar celebration, we will be taking a deep-dive into their previous work, relating that to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien. Today’s calendar is below.