One of the most seasoned entries into the latest LOTRonPrime lineup is veteran actor Geoff Morrell. With nearly 40 years of professional acting experience, Morrell brings a dwarven hoard of noteworthy roles to the growing ensemble, with a particular abundance of television series produced in his home country of Australia.
Geoff’s first notable role came in 1995 with the series Bordertown, a still-current study of 1950s immigrant struggles in an isolated refugee camp near Brisbane. After further supporting roles in an array of mini-series and films – including a 1997 Sundance premier in a critically acclaimed Blackrock – Morrell finally got a shot at a lead role with the procedural drama Murder Call. As with many roles to follow, his facility with passionate characters in positions of expertise and influence started to shine, here in the form of 56 episodes as eccentric forensic detective Lance Fisk.
Even while Murder Call met its own early demise, Morrell thrived, shifting in 2000 to a personal favorite role as the protagonist in Grass Roots, a series satirically focusing on the political machinations of a fictional – but uncomfortably believable—Arcadia Waters Council on Sydney’s northern beaches. Morrell’s turn as Mayor Col Dunkley won him three nominations and a best leading actor award from the Australia Academy of Cinema and Television Arts, the country’s equivalent of the Oscars and BAFTA awards.
Two more AACTA leading actor nominations followed, for the series Changi in 2001 and the tele-movie Marking Time in 2004. He even scored a guest appearance as Presidential Adviser T.R. Holt in an episode of Farscape.
Building on this platform, Morrell moved into peak popularity, and the mainstream of Australian television with his casting as Sergeant Mark Jacobs in the popular police drama, Blue Heelers.
With this latest turn in uniform, Morrell’s type seemed to be cast: comfortable in charge, prone to unexpected turns, politically savvy, passionate about justice, leading man material. He seems pretty perfect for a Númenórean king, the far-sighted, secret Elf-friend Tar-Palantir, perhaps?
But for the last 15 years, Morrell’s appearances, while less frequent and cast more in supporting roles, have increased his range and defied these former patterns: an unfortunate upper-crust victim to a giant crocodile in Rogue (2007), a troubling father figure in the short film Foal (2015), and a dodgy, short-lived step-father in The Mule (2014), to name a few. This last film also moved Morrell into zero degrees of separation with Elrond and Denethor, with both Hugo Weaving and John Noble in starring roles in this dark comedy/crime-drama.
So where does that leave us with Geoff Morrell? As recently as September of this year, he was quoted as saying, “I have in the last few years, begun to taper off my acting career. In the past decade I have immersed myself in music and writing.” It seems, though, that Amazon has succeeded in pulling him back in, and in a big way. It makes sense. At his core, Morrell is a story teller, deeply believing in the power of performers to invest “the realest of all jobs” with the power of truth-telling. “If you can touch someone at that level of shared value, of common humanity, then you can actually to do anything … you can change the world.”
Amazon chose to give us a more grizzled version of Morrell in his published head shot. While a supporting role seems likely, given his senior stature and ever-increasing dramatic range, are we looking, perhaps, at our next Elendil?
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!