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.
In today’s cast spotlight, we focus on 3 actors with a strong theatre background, as well as prominent roles in some genre favorites. The staff of TheOneRing.net is proud to welcome them to the Middle-earth family!
From comedy and political drama, to large scale productions, Kip Chapman has the skills and range to accomplish whatever is needed of him for Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings inspired series.
This short biography of Chapman is the latest in our daily series highlighting the recent casting announcements.
Kip Chapman is an award-winning writer, director and actor with numerous film, theater and TV credits under his belt. Shortland Street, Top of the Lake and 6 Days, a movie about the 1980s Iranian hostage siege, are highlights from a review of his resume.
Chapman is a well established triple-threat artist, who has shown a tendency to ‘go big’ with stage productions as well.
One of his biggest projects was as co-creator and performer of an interactive stage show called Apollo 13: Mission Control. The 2008 show recreated the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission – but with audience participation. The idea of this interactive theater piece was to encourage audience members to play along as astronauts, reporters and mission control staff, using consoles and props modeled on the originals at Houston’s Mission Control. The show toured New Zealand and Australia, eventually arriving in the US in 2013.
He followed Apollo 13 with the comedic Hudson and Halls Live!, another performance theater show, inspired by the 1980s TV chefs Peter Hudson and David Halls. Like his previous work, this was an immersive show – this time taking place in a 1980s TV studio, complete with live studio audience, and mimicking the eccentric cooking show. Hudson and Halls were known to be a bit chaotic, endearing, and funny, in this camp cooking show which broadcast from 1976 to 1986. They bickered, drank on air, and often struggled to complete the recipes. Chapman’s show emulated the recording of a single episode.
And from there, Chapman went even bigger, as the Creative Director of the 2017 edition of World of Wearable Art. How big is this event? It averages about 3500 people every night for more than two weeks! The Wearable Art aspect is pretty much costuming on steroids, and it is the job of the Creative Director to make all the sets and environments that these garments can live in – a significant task, to say the least. Above you can see an example of the amazing work that comes out of these shows – specifically Stuart Johnson’s 2002 winning entry ‘Persephone’s Descent.’
Chapman’s breadth of experience makes him perfectly suited for the complexity of Tolkien’s world, and Amazon’s production. While we have no clues from his experience on where he may fit, one could guess Chapman could play a Numenorian, or potentially an Elf. Your guess is as good as ours – time will tell!
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.
The Amazon production of its Middle-Earth stories has been ongoing, but now we are in a time when the arrival of information from them concerning this production is accelerating.
The One Ring staff has been fans of J.R.R. Tolkien for quite some time, and it has always seen its core mission to be defined by its tagline: “By and For the Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien.” This site tries to do many things in support of this mission: support and celebrate fandom and fan activities – from costuming, to open invite events, to the line parties during the films, to group re-reads of Tolkien’s works, to so much more. However, this site has been humbly privileged to not only be supported by fans of Tolkien, but to be given access to many people involved in the production of adaptations of Tolkien’s work. The One Ring takes this gift of access seriously, and wants to do what’s best by the fans to make the most of this access, and to represent the best interests of the fans to these productions, so that the best possible adaptations of Tolkien’s work are made.
A few things have become clear to the staff of The One Ring (TORn) over the twenty years of its existence – time spent discussing and dissecting 6 major films, a handful of stage productions, multiple audio recordings, collectible figurines, and so much more. TORn has learned that what matters most is this:
“The more an adaptation sticks to the spirit and the motivation behind Tolkien’s work, the more successful it becomes, in both the short and long term, in both critical reception, and financial return.”
Over the years, TORn has learned an important lesson: if we, as fans, wish to have any influence over adaptations, we need to follow two important rules: first, we try to avoid quibbling over tiny details, and second, we gladly support the assignment of production staff, both in front of and behind the camera.
So, in terms of offering any constructive critique (pro or con), The One Ring will focus on trying to influence the productions to stay fidelitous to Tolkien’s spirit. For example, those who adapt Tolkien’s work would do well to read his letter #246 in “The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien” to understand some of Tolkien’s subtle thoughts concerning the concept of ‘both intent and actions have consequences.’
As it concerns details of scripting and plot, TORn recognizes that adaptations will need to modify the story in various ways. While everyone will have their opinions on each and every detail, TORn realizes that changes need to be made, and the director and production company need to have freedom in telling the story. Without some degree of freedom, the best people will simply be uninterested in adapting a work. Therefore, while TORn will report on non-spoiling plot details that it becomes aware of, TORn commentary will be focused on, as stated above, encouraging production companies to stay true to the core spirit of Tolkien’s work. This is why, a few months ago, TORn pushed hard against even the possibility of gratuitous sexuality in adaptations.
As it concerns casting and the assignment of production staff, what TORn has seen, time and again, is that there is incredible initial fan reaction for or against newly named cast members, but that all the support or angst over an acting choice disappears once the adaptation is released. To quote a far better author than I, all of that angst is ‘sound and fury, signifying nothing.’ Therefore, at this point, TORn almost universally celebrates the announcement of new cast and production staff, and wants to use whatever influence it has with them to encourage them to create performances that are fidelitous to the spirit of Tolkien’s work.
For some examples of this ‘unfounded sound and fury’ go back twenty years and consider how people were asking “Who is Ian McKellen? Can he play a convincing Gandalf?” “Who is Viggo Mortensen?” Can he carry 3 films as the action hero lead?” “Why is Elijah Wood – and isn’t he too young to play Frodo?” “Do we really want Rudy as Samwise Gamgee?” “Who is Miranda Otto? Can she play a convincing Eowyn?” My goodness; what time has taught us!
Again, one point is crucial so it bears repeating: TORn celebrates – universally – when staff is added to a production – both cast and crew. TORn does this because it has found that celebrating and supporting them encourages them in ways large and small to put in their best work – and to take more seriously comments TORn may make on choices that impact the core spirit of Tolkien’s work (as the staff of TORn best understands it.) TORn does this because it wants the best possible adaptations of Tolkien’s work to be released, so it focuses on what is most important.
Again, TORn has found that almost every debate about cast choice dies down once an adaptation is released, and then, it’s all about the strength of the performance of that cast, as individuals and as an ensemble. This is not just seen in casting of Tolkien-based productions, as shown in the examples above, but in every production, everywhere. For example, there was quite a bit of debate concerning the diversity of the original cast of ‘Hamilton’ – until it was released to pretty much universal acclaim.
Why does TORn focus on fidelity to the spirit of Tolkien? Why does it work to not get sidelined by other issues? To paraphrase a line from the Jackson adaptation of The Lord of the Rings…
“There was some good in the spirit of J.R.R. Tolkien that motivated him to create his imaginary world in just the way he did. And it’s worth fighting for.”
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 posting articles and cast profiles, as well as some other fun, all relating that to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien.
British-born American actress Cynthia Addai-Robinson brings a broad range, strong epic roots, and even some LotR/Hobbit connections to Amazon’s new Middle-earth series.
She’s experienced with episodic television, with a 2012-13 breakout role as Naevia, the slave turned warrior in the STARZ series Spartacus. The Naevia role brought with it some serious sword training, familiarity with New Zealand filming, and an overlap with some familiar folk to the Tolkien universe, including fan favorites Craig Parker, and especially Manu Bennett, who starred as Naevia’s lover, Crixus, in the series. Addai-Robinson’s credits stretch from drama (Marybeth Medina in the Ben Affleck vehicle “The Accountant”) to television series (appearing in all three CSI shows, and most recently in another STARZ series, Power), and geek-friendly offerings (like Aja in The Vampire Diaries and Amanda Waller in Arrow). Prior to taking up acting, she was an accomplished dancer, again with a broad repertoire from ballet to jazz. With that kind of range, an elven warrior role seems completely conceivable.
“The great thing about really heightened historical dramas is that they can convey much larger themes.”
In reflecting on her acting opportunities, Addai-Robinson was quoted, “The great thing about really heightened historical dramas is that they can convey much larger themes.” That sounds like someone ready to take on Tolkien!
I feel it in the water… I smell it in the air. The beast has emerged from its lair, and DragonCon is here again! Here’s what you can expect from Middle-earth fandom, and from TheOneRing.net, this weekend:
We’ll have our usual ‘fan table’ in our normal spot, in the Hyatt hotel opposite the entrance to the Art Show. There we’ll have buttons and shirts for sale; here’s a glimpse of our merchandise for this year:
We’ll also have other goodies for you to look at, maybe a few giveaways, and we’ll be happy as ever to chat with our fellow fans!
The High Fantasy track will be in L401-403 in the Marriott, and there are various panels which will be of interest to Tolkien fans; such as a discussion about The Inklings (Saturday 2.30pm), ‘Valar-ous Women of Middle-earth’ (Sunday 5.30pm), and TORn’s own ‘They’re taking the Hobbits to Amazon!’ panel (Sunday 4pm, in a bigger room – Marriott A601-602).
Then of course Friday night is the EVENING AT BREE! From 8.30pm in the Grand Salon West (Hilton), join us for music and revelry! Bands Toucan Dubh and Landloch’d will play, the Elf Choir will sing, and we’ll have the ever popular costume contest – possibly with a celebrity host or two…
(Don’t forget, if you want to sign up for the costume contest, you need to do it IN ADVANCE of the ‘Evening at Bree’. Go to the High Fantasy Track Room (Marriott L401-403) or visit the TORn fan table before 6pm on Friday to sign up to participate.)
Middle-earth celebrity guests this year are Graham McTavish (Dwalin), John Noble (Denethor), Dean O’Gorman (Fili), and Craig Parker (Haldir). On Sunday morning, 11.30am in the Marriott Imperial Ballroom, TORn staffer greendragon will be hosting these gentlemen in the ‘Heroes of Middle-earth’ session.
In addition to all that, there will be lots of Tolkien characters marching in the Parade on Saturday morning, and there will be all the usual opportunities to spend far too short a time among such excellent and admirable fans! Hope to see you there – let the fun begin!