On Saturday, October 8, 2022 at 7:30PM ET, Paleyfest NY will feature a preview screening of Episode #107 of Amazon Prime’s “Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power” followed by a conversation and Q&A with cast members.
Cast members joining the conversation and Q&A include:
Cynthia Addai-Robinson, “Queen Regent Míriel” Nazanin Boniadi, “Bronwyn” Ismael Cruz Córdova, “Arondir” Charles Edwards, “Lord Celebrimbor” Leon Wadham, “Kemen” Daniel Weyman, “The Stranger” Sara Zwangobani, “Marigold Brandyfoot”
If you’ll be in New York on October 8, head on over the the Paley Center website for tickets: https://www.paleycenter.org/events/pfny-2022 Tickets are on sale to Paley Individual, Family, and Supporting Members Thursday, Sept. 29 at 12:00 noon. They will go on sale to the general public Friday, Sept. 30 at 12:00 noon.
As the co-owner of this website, having been here from the very beginning, I’ve seen my share of online Tolkien community related collective anxiety. Our massive community is not dissimilar to that of Star Wars – we have our whacko fringe segment and we have the numbers to attract a matrix style army of Russian bots.
Weeding through all … of … that … noise (if that sounds exhaustive, that’s intentional) is so hard to accomplish in 2022. Apparently with age, comes wisdom, and apparently with wisdom comes the ability to dissect myself from most of the drama in the lead up to ‘The Rings of Power.’
Sure, did I occasionally get caught up in the tasty morsels of ‘Tolkien with nudity’ or the ‘Gam(of Thrones)ification’ of Tolkien? I admit – it caught me every few months. But all in all, through most of this journey to September 2nd, I found myself more concerned about aggressively protecting the ‘good’ in our community. Protecting those of us who don’t tell you how to enjoy your Tolkien. Aggressively pursuing the bad actors, trolls and goblins of the online space. Yup, I’m looking squarely at you Twitter. Your cesspool of existence had me pretty close to closing down our official account a few times!
Just a Casual Fan…
All that said, I decided to write my thoughts on ‘The Rings of Power’ today because I feel I may represent a segment of our community that simply is Tolkien adjacent these days. Sure, we were avid fans and very active 20 years ago, but work, families, and simply time have calmed that passion down…just a tad.
I should also mention, for the umpteenth time, that I am a ‘Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ reader. I tried to read the Silmarillion ages ago…not again. Nope, I didn’t read the Histories of Middle-earth or the new books that mystically appear every few years. I’m just a fan of Tolkien’s most popular works – judge me if you will.
With the multiple premiere’s happening around the globe, TORn staff were attending and reporting through the generosity of Amazon. Last week, I had actually scored a pass to the NYC Premiere, but after an enjoyable vacation I came back with a cold worthy of Sauron’s envy. I had even bought a sweet outfit for the occasion, but alas, it was not to be. (Nope, it wasn’t COVID, oddly enough.)
So like everyone else, I waited patiently until the show premiered last night on my Amazon Prime account. I should also note, that I’m such a casual fan these days, that I ended up watching the first half of the Penn State vs. Purdue American football game (PS – Penn State is where this website found its genesis), before deciding to check to see if ‘The Rings of Power’ was out a bit early. And yay…it was!
So it begins. Lights off, Apple AirPods Pro Max activated, and let’s do this!
I’m going to share a minor-spoiler stream of thoughts. I’m doing this for those of you who are like me – casual, Tolkien adjacent fans. Folks who may not be the most educated Tolkien scholars of the bunch – nor – *gasp* – really want to be. Folks who don’t want to participate in the drama of the community and just want to watch a good show and celebrate with the community.
So my quick review: this show nails it.
I wanted – no, needed – a thread – a connection to the films I so loved 20 years ago. ‘The Rings of Power’ delivers big time.
Just a few clear reasons why…
We get Galadriel, one of the best characters in all of Tolkien’s works, as the lead, the main focus of the series. I’m pretty sure I had not seen Morfydd Clark in any other show/movie before this show, and she is simply a gem. The strength she exudes with just a stare is mesmerizing, and her acting prowess is top notch. This series is in great hands with her in the lead role. The decision to focus on Galadriel from the very start is genius. I truly want to know her story, and I can’t wait to learn more.
We get breathtaking action and visuals. How cool is it to see battle sequences of Middle-earth in such gigantic scale. Did I really just watch a Fell Beast take out a giant eagle?!
We get amazing music from the talents of Bear McCreary. Throughout both episodes, it is clear Bear understands the musical ethos that is required for this world. So amazing. (Yes – already listening on loop while working!)
We get a taste of the innocence and simplicity of Hobbits with the whole Eleanor Brandyfoot plot. Markella Kavenagh is wonderfully cast in this role as a bright eyed mischievous Hobbit…err…Harfoot. In fact, when I look at her, I think of those quick takeaway shots of those cute Hobbits watching fireworks. (Pretty sure those were PJs kids?) And I’m pretty sure, by the end of this series, we are going to get the clear implication that Bilbo and Frodo are descendants of Eleanor. (Oh wait, my lack of Tolkien knowledge might be coming through…is that already spelled out in a genealogical chart somewhere?)
We get an Elf military that is stationed throughout areas of Middle-earth to protect her ungrateful residents? Noice! Wait – a Legolas 2.0 with Ismael Cruz Córdova’sArondir? YES. If you aren’t excited to see him kick some major arse in this series, check your pulse. BTW – he’s okay right? I mean…we did get a bit of a cliffhanger with him in Episode 2. (Obviously we do)
We get to see a whole thriving Dwarven culture. Am I really under the mountain and watching the genesis of semi-familiar names and their eventual (spoiler!) downfall? After all, I did see that Balrog in the trailer…you all are going to delve too deep…aren’t you…?
We get some REALLY impressively designed baddies. That orc/goblin that shows up in Bronwyn and Theo’s house…nightmare fuel. The ‘worm’ of the ocean – can I can get a fine art print of that in someway? That brief look right before taking out the raft…yikes!
Who the heck is this Meteor Man? How cool would that be if that’s Gandalf? Probably won’t be – but I’m game for having no clue, and finding out as the show unfolds. I do get a baddie vibe, but obviously they are trying to lead the viewer in that direction.
Hold up. I was worried this show might not be something I could watch with the family. Sure, the baddies are a bit scary, but as of right now, this is a family (10+) show. Well done, Amazon!
Two episodes in, and there is so much to love about this series.
You know you got it right when…
The biggest compliments I can give this series are twofold:
I did not look at my phone the entire time. This is pretty impressive, considering the Penn State game was very close at halftime and I had relatives and friends dinging my phone and watch. The ‘tap’ of the watch was going mad at some points during the show, but I was so engaged in the show, I didn’t bother. And also…I ALWAYS look at my phone during shows.
I usually will make myself some popcorn during shows. I’ll get up, walk away from the TV with my headphones on and watch from the kitchen. Nope – not in this case. Popcorn was only made when the first episode ended.
In summary, I’m fully in. Well done to the entire team involved in this production. Sure, it was insanely expensive, but for this Tolkien adjacent fan, you’re nailing it.
If you are a casual fan of Tolkien and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, you are going to absolutely love ‘Rings of Power.’
Prime Video Hosts J.R.R. Tolkien Homecoming in London’s Leicester Square for theWorld Premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Ahead of the September 2 Premiere
The highly anticipated Prime Video series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power honoured J.R.R. Tolkien by ending its epic global tour in the United Kingdom with its world premiere in London’s Leicester Square. Prime Video brought nearly 2,000 people—including cast, producers, and fans—into Middle-earth in advance of the series’ September 2 debut.
The London premiere represented the final stop in the series’ five-city world tour that started in Los Angeles and included Mexico City, Mumbai, and New York City before culminating in Tuesday’s historic Leicester Square premiere.
A fully immersive, Ring-shaped carpet took cast, crew, and guests on a narrative journey through five realms of Middle-earth, as they interacted with media and fans on their way into the Odeon Luxe and Cineworld in Leicester Square. The center of the 2,000-foot-long circular carpet was anchored by an exquisitely hand-crafted 40-foot-tall structure representing the five realms depicted in the series: The Elf capital of Lindon; the Dwarven realm of Khazad-dûm; the island kingdom of Númenor; the Southlands, the world of Man; and the Wilderlands, the home of the Harfoots. Five customized lanterns representing the five realms lit the way for cast down the carpet, each with different light sources: Fire and coal for the Dwarves, the Harfoots’ fireflies, Númenor’s oil lamps, the Southlanders’ caged candles, and Elven glow.
A living environment was created with a multitude of plants, grass, moss, vines, and 100 large-scale trees. A multilevel environment, mimicking the mountainous and hilly topography of the world, was created with various levels and vantage points, with greenery that will be repurposed or recycled following the event for future use.
Attending the global premiere were all 22 of the series’ cast regulars: Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Maxim Baldry, Nazanin Boniadi, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Charles Edwards, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Lloyd Owen, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, Daniel Weyman, and Sara Zwangobani.
Also attending the premiere were showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay; executive producers Lindsey Weber and Callum Greene; directors Wayne Che Yip and Charlotte Brändström; writer and executive producer Justin Doble; series composer Bear McCreary; production designer Ramsey Avery; concept artist John Howe; supervising dialect coach Leith Mcpherson; and casting director Theo Park.
Amazon executives in attendance included Jeff Bezos, Founder & Executive Chairman; Jeff Blackburn, SVP Media & Entertainment; Mike Hopkins, SVP, Prime Video, MGM and Amazon Studios; Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios; Vernon Sanders, Head of Global Television, Amazon Studios; Albert Cheng, COO of Amazon Studios, among others.
The first two episodes of the multi-season drama will launch on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide on Friday, September 2, with new episodes available weekly.
As the long awaited release of Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power approaches, the final trailer has been released. Some fans have been lucky enough to see episodes one and two already, at premiere events around the world (and some will watch them in NYC tonight!) Some fans have snagged the very limited tickets to see those episodes screen in cinemas on August 31st. And for the rest, sometime on Sept 1st or 2nd (depending on your time zone), those first two episodes will be available on Prime Video.
But for now, here’s one more official trailer:
And here’s the official press release that goes with it:
The new two-minute-and-36-second trailer highlights the epic expanse of Middle-earth in its Second Age, and reveals how Tolkien’s legendary and beloved characters will come together against all odds and across great distances to guard against the feared reemergence of evil to Middle-earth. Fates collide and disparate characters are tested in the face of impending evil in this glimpse into the long-awaited new series.
The trailer features key cast members Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), Elrond (Robert Aramayo), High King Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker), and Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards); Harfoots Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh) and Largo Brandyfoot (Dylan Smith); The Stranger (Daniel Weyman); Númenóreans Isildur (Maxim Baldry), Eärien (Ema Horvath), Elendil (Lloyd Owen), Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle), and Queen Regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson); Dwarves King Durin III (Peter Mullan), Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), and Princess Disa (Sophia Nomvete); Southlanders Halbrand (Charlie Vickers); Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi); and Silvan-elf Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova).
The first two episodes of the multi-season drama will launch on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide on Friday, September 1-2 (time zone dependent), with new episodes available weekly.
Just six weeks ago, it felt like a Rings of Power drought. Now every day there’s a new batch of interviews and reveals. These are via Time Magazine writer Eliana Dockterman. Dockterman was able to shadow and interview the showrunners and key cast at San Diego Comic-Con.
Below are summaries and links to four articles that emerged from that for your reading pleasure.
The Secretive, Extravagant, Bighearted World of The Rings of Power, the Most Expensive Show Ever Made
Tears are streaming down Ismael Cruz Córdova’s chiseled cheekbones. Somehow, hardly anyone notices. I’m at San Diego Comic-Con, halfway through 96 hours spent shadowing the cast and creators of The Rings of Power, Amazon’s highly anticipated Lord of the Rings prequel series. Tomorrow, franchise superfan Stephen Colbert will debut a trailer for the series to 6,500 screaming attendees, many wearing pointy wizard hats. But tonight, at a private dinner, journalists are getting an early preview of the video in a golden faux forest constructed by Amazon for the occasion.
After a day spent among the convention crowd in 80-degree heat, sweaty, sneaker-clad members of the press mingle with actors dressed in cocktail attire: Córdova has chosen a sharp suit with a black leather harness pulled tight across his chest. A 16-person choir and 25-piece orchestra—fronted by a violinist decked out in Middle-earth regalia—perform music from the series.
11 Rings of Power Secrets We Learned From the Cast and Creators
Spend some time in Middle-earth and you’ll learn a lot of secrets. I shadowed the cast and creators of the much-anticipated Lord of the Rings prequel series, The Rings of Power, for four days at San Diego Comic-Con in July. During my conversations with the showrunners, executive producer, and several members of the cast, I did my best to pick up clues about where the series may be headed—along with details about the immense production behind the epic saga.
If you want to watch the series without knowing anything about what might happen in the show, know that this story containsminor spoilers. Stop reading now. But if you want some background on the series and how Payne and McKay cooked up a story from Tolkien’s notes, forge ahead. I’ve seen two episodes of the show, and the information in this story comes primarily from the appendices.
[Editor’s note: Having read the article, I don’t consider any of this to be much of a spoiler for anyone who’s been casually following press reports and has a passing knowledge of Middle-earth’s Second Age.]
The Rings of Power Exclusive: Producer Says Fan Theories About Sauron Are Wrong
Fans have spent months speculating when and how he might appear in the show. They’ve combed the various trailers and publicity shots. Some theorize that fans have already seen his image—or at least his Annatar guise. But executive producer Lindsey Weber told TIME the prevailing fan theories may be on the wrong track.
[Editor’s note: This is potentially a spoiler, though I think fandom very quickly discarded the Sauron identity theory that Weber discusses with Time. It would have been much more interesting to address the other (much more compelling) rumour that’s doing the rounds right now. Unfortunately, they don’t even touch on it.]
This Fan-Favorite Character Is Joining the Second Season of The Rings of Power
McKay and Payne leaned heavily on the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, which trace the rise of Sauron, the creation of the one ring, and the battle between Sauron and the last alliance of elves and men for the soul of Middle-earth. Elves are immortal in Tolkien’s world, so Lord of the Rings fans can expect to see familiar faces like Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Elrond (Robert Aramayo). (Both characters also appeared in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy.) But a fan-favorite character has been missing…
[Editor’s note: I guess this could be a minor spoiler for some so I’ve hidden the character’s name behind the link below just to be safe!]
Ringers are good people indeed. I have learned via many interactions that Tolkien fans have a rather keen emotional wisdom. Let’s be honest, you don’t get through 1200 pages of LOTR and upon finishing “The Grey Havens” not feel deeply, terribly moved. Your heart hurts but you don’t know why at first. The mastery of Tolkien is right there: how he moves your very spirit is ephemeral, yet undeniable. Within this fandom people intrinsically understand that they are in good company. When strangers meet, Tolkien is an immediate touchstone of commonality. We love sharing that love, especially at Comic-Con.
In my career as a wedding officiant I have joined many couples together whose first date was solidified over Tolkien. It’s kind of delicious when I add his poetry to their sacred vows. How unique is it, then, that a tweedy, conservative Oxford don inventing his own languages could have such an aspirational effect on Humanity? I’d like to examine this ephemeral quality, for it is worth seeing with fresh eyes, and it always leans into kindness. Saying that J.R.R. Tolkien has made us better humans is to understate it. This is his grace, given to us, his readers.
We are a thoughtful, global group of people from various cultures and backgrounds who easily identify with this altruism and pay it forward by sharing love of Tolkien’s works.
It’s why we built this site.
If you draw a straight line from the 1937 publication of Bilbo’s story to where we stand now in 2022 on the cusp of a massive new TV series The Rings of Power you will find us — the fans. We are everyday people who sank deep into the books, enraptured by J.R.R. Tolkien’s words, re-reading everything ad nauseam. For generations we shared his words with our little ones at story time (a profound engine of furthering literacy, lest we minimize it).
Not content to stay within boundaries of academia or late 50’s coterie intellectual circles, Tolkien fandom erupted as a popular juggernaut during a 60’s counterculture movement and a college campus craze. Young people came to Tolkien in droves. A “Fantasy” section appeared in retail bookstores. A couple of generations further on and the Internet would give rise to new ways of sharing our enthusiasm. Moving from small-press newsletters printed in a garage to massive online message boards was key to the burgeoning fandom. We were keeping the fires lit: TheOneRing.net was born.
It is no small thing to have a community – this is truly a family to us. Being in the arms of this fandom is very real. Unwavering hours of work by an all-volunteer staff have made this happen. We don’t make money off any algorithm that leads viewers to an ecosystem of negativity. Our Discord is a guaranteed good time; and that’s the way we like it. Why approach it this way, cultivating community above all else? Easy! It’s all for the inexhaustible fun we have sharing Tolkien – and no kinder group of souls could one hope to meet.
That one time we drove across-country from Los Angeles to Atlanta? It was fueled by donated coffee and a 24/7 livestream we called “The Road to Dragon*Con”. We were embraced by many strangers who would meet to break bread with us, ready to laugh and discuss the Professor’s legendarium. Fans guided us to new places we had never seen; and town-by-town we mapped a constellation of generosity across the land.
Now, I admit to being the Lisa Simpson of my family; raised Methodist but later embracing a mild form of Buddhism. Conversant in theology, I soaked myself in the deep-rooted Catholicism that Tolkien lived by. I read the Humphrey Carpenter Biography and explored his published Letters. There was no theological take I wanted to miss in his writings. So during this jolly Road Trip we chatted with a minister somewhere in the forests of Georgia and detoured for a Second Breakfast. Tolkien was the mortar between the bricks of that egalitarian conversation, believe me. We talked about the triangulation of Frodo, Sam and Sméagol; and how Tolkien crafted this narrative as a demonstrable extrapolation of The Lord’s Prayer. The quiet Southern Baptist and the talkative gay man who had just met one another were suddenly busy discussing aspects of forgiveness. It was amazing. Two people who were miles apart on political sensibilities, reductively speaking, yet there we were; breaking bread together in true Fellowship. What did we achieve? A small moment of enlightenment. What did we not do? Tweet clown emojis at each other.
This experience galvanized my views. I knew Tolkien’s spirit can and truly does bring people together; and we nurture that environment here, ongoingly.
You should have been in that room. The conversation was unfiltered, passionate, and quite clarifying. We needed those clarifying statements and it was great to hit on a lot of BIG THEMES and LORE DETAILS, too.
The audience was with us every step of the way: no newbie was left behind. Somehow I feel the wisdom of those next to me elevated the conversation and offered a refreshing tonic. Here is the entire Panel Presentation (panel starting at 19:11):
You hear it in Anna Maria’s voice when she says of the Professor (at 1:10:33) “Let’s look at thematically ‘What is the macro of what Tolkien stood for?’ He stood for Love. … Let’s look at his actual texts, his works were about Fellowship: his works were about what happens when there is discord between differing peoples. This man is laid to rest next to his wife with the names BEREN and LÚTHIEN inscribed upon the tombstone – I’ve been there, I’ve seen it – this man stood for Love. And if you read any of his works with the openness and kindness that we know he valued; that’s what you take away from it. And I think that would be really lovely for us all to keep in mind going forward.”
Willie Jenkins “KnewBettaDoBetta” had a genius way of putting a button on that. He will suffer no fools. And when Matt “Nerd of the Rings” offered his closing thought on how disparate people so easily set aside their differences for Tolkien – I knew the ongoing threads of altruism would weave us closer together.
I met many cast members of the upcoming show. It was not just an opportunity to ask them questions as a reporter or a documentarian. I sat before an array of hardworking, genuine people who have their own enthusiasm for Tolkien. They were ebullient. They want fans to enjoy this creative experience on its own terms. I was perhaps a bit clumsy in relating to Markella Kavenagh and Maxim Baldry how the TORn community is different. I wanted to underscore our open-minded approach and methods of moderating, yet as my sentences faltered Ismael Cruz Cordova was keen to reach across the table: “I think I know something about that, brother, and I appreciate you.” Sophia Nomvete was a revelation. Her heart is overflowing with sharply drawn wisdom. Telling her how we felt about protecting the actors from unwanted toxicity, Kellie Rice calmly said: “Don’t worry, we’ve got your back,” and Sophia gently wept at the reassurance.
Look, we are at the intersection of a literary legacy and a pop culture behemoth with this new show, The Rings of Power. There will be much invigorating discussion for the next few years and we will keep it healthy and egalitarian. We will be watching ROP with no small amount of excitement. I look forward to comparing notes with other lore-masters to parse what works (and what does not).
This new adaptation, at the very least, promises to offer a richly mounted artistic interpretation of Middle-earth. Let’s see if they play it unironically. Let’s see if they adapt it with all the seriousness and clear regard for the metaphysics it deserves.
At a delightful accidental meeting on the train, Rings of Power showrunner Patrick McKay came up and asked me what I would most like to see in their series. I immediately pulled a quote from Letter No. 203 where Tolkien states: “But I should say, if asked, the tale is not really about Power and Dominion: that only sets the wheels going; it is about Death and the desire for deathlessness.” I leaned in on that final phrase. Patrick knew exactly what I was getting at. He looked up thoughtfully for a moment and said: “I think we’ve got you covered.”
If the prevailing headwinds are any indication they might just pull off something magical. Or at least we can enjoy the ride and flog the keyboard when necessary. Seriously, we have been bitching and moaning about Faramir dragging those two hobbits to Osgiliath all these bloody years now. We enjoyed PJ’s gargantuan adaptations but had plenty to criticize. Likewise we will have ample time to praise/gripe/puzzle over Amazon’s time compression, 3rd Age characters showing up too soon; and much more. We will debate but never denigrate.
Twenty-odd years later, as an observer of pop culture and especially Tolkien’s considerable legacy, I say unequivocally we have something special in this fandom.
Let’s keep it going. And my warmest regards to all who help maintain this community. Well done.