Amazon Studios’ “The Lord of the Rings” Second Age series has been notoriously secretive during the 18-month production, but inside info is finally trickling out of the billion dollar series thanks to anonymous Spy Reports coming out of New Zealand. We have been able to verify most of today’s report as currently accurate per sources that are involved with the Production.

Most of these Spy Reports have come to us in short form bullet points, and are shared as such below [with additional context and editorial in brackets from Staff Writer and weekly host Clifford Broadway]. Our spy hotline is still the same after 21 years and our DM’s are open on twitter & instagram! To celebrate the hard-working artists and craftspeople working with such passion way down in New Zealand we shed light on their efforts and help include them in the embrace of fan enthusiasm. As with previous intrepid filmmakers tackling a version of Tolkien; the fandom fully indulges our unbridled curiosity with an open hand while shouting support from afar—a grand tradition of an engaged fandom.

Lore, Legal Rights & the Tolkien Estate

First off, we are hearing that the Tolkien Estate is very happy with how things are progressing. Seems they really are more involved in this Production than with any previous LOTR adaptation ever [including the Bakshi version in 1978 and the six Middle-earth films from Peter Jackson; per the terms of the newest deal] and are thus enjoying the creative process. The overall plan for the show has instilled confidence in the Production and more story rights have been assigned to the show.

  • *CONFIRMED* for the 1st time EVER: elements & passages from “The Silmarillion” and “Unfinished Tales” are licensed by Amazon Studios for this adaptation [we broadly speculate those are sections of the book relative to Númenor and Rings of Power including full rights to stories licensed in the Appendices of “The Lord of the Rings,” which already mention Númenor and much more. Actors had posted instagram pics from Silm over the last 18 months.]
  • Amazon DOES have merchandising rights
  • Three lore experts / Tolkien scholars were on set for a time during production
  • Tolkien Estate is said to be very happy with how things are progressing

Production Details

  • Men, Elves and Dwarves have their own sequestered production units for the different Free Peoples [this intriguing bit rather suggests the narrative might be constructed across wide time jumps or told from pockets of different historical viewpoints, perhaps even an anthology approach rotating characters from the various Free Peoples all reacting to the same thing, or just not cooperating with each other in Season 1: but over what timelines we still do not know].
  • Scripts are only digitally shared among actors and crew under draconian control mechanisms to track any persons who could access them
  • There is a fake production team shooting decoy footage on fake sets unrelated to the real Production – [thus making some “reports of location sightings” false leads by tricksy hobbitses and we must admit this is very clever indeed! Peter Jackson never used decoys!]
  • Main unit wrapped shooting in April 2021; while many actors are back in the U.K. or are now on other productions
  • J.A. Bayona’s episodes are a standalone entry point to the series [like a feature film]
  • There are more incredible directors and big stars yet to be announced
  • LOTR & Wheel of Time are sharing crew & directors
  • They are aiming for a mid-2022 release [that is only one short year away and must mean the pressure on Post Production must be remarkable]

Men, Elves, Dwarves & “Early Halflings”

Welcome to the Second Age of the Middle-earth Cinematic Universe, full of corruption, wandering, and a lack of alliances.

  • Some Halflings are dark skin precursors to Shire-hobbits quite possibly “one of three somewhat different breeds” maybe Harfoots; [described by Tolkien in the Prologue to LOTR ‘Concerning Hobbits’ pg. 12: “they were browner of skin,” and also “they moved westward early,” alluding to a time in their Wandering Days, or perhaps earlier when they kept no records of their journeys over the Misty Mountains westward (which may explain a little of why any early antecedents of pre-Shire migration hobbits would appear here in the Second Age instead of Third Age narrative)]
  • Sir Lenny Henry portrays one such early halfling [Harfoot]
  • Celebrimbor the ringmaker has been recast
  • Tom Budge was in that role
  • Certain creatures are referred to as Ice Trolls because they can’t be called Cave Trolls (Warner Bros. licensing restriction)
  • Nudity is sparse and not sexualized— contrary to earlier concerns: but rather this artistic choice represents very dark thematic material suggestive of concentration camp-type visuals of victims, a harrowing portrayal of the corruption of the Elves by dark powers to ultimately become Orcs
    Editors note: if this plays out fully it will may well be one of the most ambitious things undertaken by this production and perhaps by anyone attempting to adapt Tolkien
  • Elves will have short/ shorter hairstyles [cue the Twitter threads, both pro and con, and the voting polls, and endless constellations of lovely fan art, so please bring it fans; I’m here for it]
  • Sauron/Annatar will not be revealed in Season One [going with the oldest axiom of show business “Always leave them wanting more.”]
Tom Budge was Celebrimbor the ringmaker, now being recast and reshot

Tune into #TORnTuesday as Quickbeam breaks down all these juicy spy reports in detail. Subscribe on YouTube! We still have a long way to go until Amazon’s LOTR TV show releases, so if you hear anything drop a note to spymaster@theonering.net

Here we are, at the final day of TORn’s Advent Calendar. We hope you’ve enjoyed our 24 days of posts: exploring Amazon’s new cast announcements, day dreaming about visiting New Zealand, taking a closer look at a seasonally appropriate work of the Professor’s, and even releasing some merchandise, to bring hope for the coming year!

It just remains for us to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas. We know that lots of people are alone this year, and that the holiday season will be very different for many. You may feel that you are ‘the furthest away from home you’ve ever been’; but we hope that you always find yourself at home in Middle-earth, in the pages of Tolkien’s books, in Peter Jackson’s movies, and here at TheOneRing.net. We are a Fellowship of Fans; one big, happy, geeky family.

For something extra special to end our Advent Calendar, a few actor members of our family wanted to send greetings to you all. These three charming dwarven fellows are sending love to everyone.

Continue reading “Christmas greetings! – from some familiar faces.”

With the recent casting announcements from Amazon Studios’ The Lord of the Rings including some highly respected actors of color, we reached out to friend and creator Sebastian A. Jones to join us for tonight’s episode of TORn Tuesday ( Watch 8pm PT / 5pm ET LIVE on YouTube or Facebook)

Sebastian A. Jones is the founder of Stranger Comics, whose Asunda graphic novel universe is being optioned as HBO’s next big fantasy franchise show. He was kind enough to send us his thoughts, which encapsulate his hope that inclusive casting is part of a journey to a brighter future. Read what he had to say, below and join the conversation tonight.

Sebastian A. Jones of Stranger Comics
Sebastian A. Jones
Continue reading “LIVE Tonight on TORN Tuesday: Sebastian Jones”

Wrapping up our our series on Amazon’s new cast members is the lovely Sara Zwangobani. Sara is an Australian actress who is best-known for her roles in a number of Australian TV series and soap operas. From recurring roles to guest appearances, Sara has appeared in Monarch Cove, Love My Way, and Don’t Stop me Now, among others.

Sara Zwangobani in The Lord of the Rings TV Series on Amazon Prime
Sara Zwangobani

Sara also has a number of stage roles under her belt, one of the most interesting of which included playing a female Marc Antony in Bell Shakespeare’s production of Julius Caesar in 2018, which toured around Australia. She also has a Lord of the Rings connection, having played the part of Rosetta in Sydney Theatre Company’s A Streetcar Named Desire in 2009, which featured Cate Blanchett as Blanche DuBois.  

Actor Sara Zwangobani, surrounded by masked cast members, as Marc Antony in Julius Caesar.
Sara Zwangobani as Marc Antony

Given her striking good looks, Sara could be cast in any number of roles in the new Amazon series. A Numenorean queen, or perhaps an Elf of Eregion during the time of the making of the Rings of Power? No matter the region and people of Middle-earth she becomes a part of, Sara is a perfect addition to the Amazon TV series cast.

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!

Day 18 of TheOneRing.net's Advent Calendar 2020
Day 18 of TheOneRing.net’s Advent Calendar 2020