Today in Annecy attending press were treated to glimpses of the upcoming film The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim. TORn didn’t have anyone present there, but the good folks at Warner Bros. were kind enough to share with us some of the first movie images being revealed; and we had a chance to sit down again, before Annecy, with producer Philippa Boyens, to chat some more about this hotly anticipated movie – and other returns to Middle-earth, coming in the future.

Feast your eyes on the images! And enjoy the conversation between Boyens and staffer greendragon.

GD: Hi Philippa, thanks for taking this time – and it’s very, very exciting to see some images. We all just can’t wait to see it and are excited for what’s going to be revealed at Annecy –  and these three images that we have to look at. So, I have a million questions but can we plunge straight into the images?

PB: Absolutely.

HÉRA voiced by GAIA WISE in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Animation’s epic anime adventure “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

GD: Great. I’m looking at the first one that was sent to me, which presumably is Hera, our heroine. And the first thing I have to ask you – and I don’t know if you’re going to be able to answer this question: is that Herugrim that we see in her hand there? Is that the 500-year-old heirloom of Rohan that ends up with Theoden?

PB: Well, given some of the concept artists that were involved in this film, I would say that’s probably a pretty good guess. You know the attention to detail that those guys go into. So people like Daniel Falconer and, of course, John Howe, Alan Lee, you know. And then the brilliant Japanese concept artists, not just animators but concept artists as well, have worked on this. We’ve just been spoiled, honestly, absolutely spoiled.

GD: I can well imagine! Talk to me a little bit about this character Hera, because I’ve been fascinated by some of the things I’ve read that you’ve said in other interviews, about her being inspired somewhat by the Lady of the Mercians, Aethelflaed. And your talk of that reminded me also of Matilda, the daughter of Henry I, who was known as Lady of the English. So we’ve got these early medieval women who did not end up ruling, but who kept the country together in these powerful, strong ways. And clearly in this image, Hera is being very fierce. It looks like her sword is touching someone’s shoulder that we’re just seeing in the edge of the picture. Tell me a little bit about this strong female character that I’m very excited to see.

PB: Yes, she is a strong female character; but what I really love about her, she’s a very real female character – which I think is a strength of what Professor Tolkien did with the Rohirrim, and we’ve drawn on that. Eowyn was drawn so beautifully. I mean, you know, of course, with Galadriel and Arwen, you’re dealing with immortals, you’re dealing with the quality of, I was going to say the fae, but I won’t say that, but that otherworldly quality that is inherent in the elves. With Eowyn, I always felt that she was drawn in a very real way. And so we’ve kind of tried to continue in that tradition.

She’s not named in the books and we do point that out – I won’t tell you how! – but I do think it’s interesting that often women remain unnamed. There’s an unnamed daughter in Beowulf, for example. That was immediately intriguing; but what i do say is i don’t feel in any way that Professor Tolkien was slighting that character in not naming her. I  think he hadn’t gotten around to telling that part of the story; and i do believe that if he had told that part of the story, given that he was a Mercian of sorts himself, how could he not perhaps have drawn on alfred the great’s daughter? And so she felt authentic. Although, having said that, I know he also said that the Rohirrim were not pure Anglo-Saxon derivatives, you know, there’s a lot of other facets to them – including his own imagination that he drew upon.

But I’m so glad you mentioned Matilda, because I think in the same vein, you’re absolutely right, that somehow they had the facility to hold their people together without necessarily having the title of ruler. They were leaders because they showed leadership and courage when it was needed. It’s resilience, you know, often time and time again, they show something special and save their people. , I think that that was one of the things that drew us to her.

And we wanted to make sure that she was as authentically human as she could be. So she’s not without doubts. She’s not without fears. She is constrained by the strictures of the society in which she’s been brought up. She’s beloved by her father – we know that from the very beginning of the storytelling. This is what we’ve come up with, you know; because we have known brothers. We have Haleth and Hama. And we can imagine who they are. And so when it came to Hera, we thought it would be interesting that just as Théoden had that relationship with Éowyn, that kind of the interesting thing following that thread through with Helm. First he loses Haleth, he loses Hama, he loses all his sons.

And although Hera is, you know, growing up – we killed off the mother, by the way, because she’s not named either. So we imagined her growing up, raised by a warrior king, alongside two brothers who, you know, there would be a genuinely tomboyishness to her nature, that she was allowed to have a bit of a free reign when she was younger. But when it comes down to it, especially now that she’s getting older, she comes face to face with the fact that, you know what, there are strictures in this society and there are roles for women in this society that her father still expects her to fulfill.

So, sure, he let her have a bit of a free reign and she was a bit of a wild child growing up,but never once did Helm think she would do anything other than that. and fulfill her duties and so it’s really interesting that that is part of his journey of his character to sort of suddenly discover that his daughter is stronger than he knew, which is really interesting. I love the relationship between those two characters that we’ve managed to find in there.

(L-r) HÉRA Voiced by GAIA WISE, HELM HAMMERHAND voiced by BRIAN COX,
HALETH Voiced by BENJAMIN WAINWRIGHT and HAMA voiced by YAZDAN QAFOURI in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Animation’s epic anime adventure “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

GD: And great actors voicing those two characters. [Brian Cox and Gaia Wise]

PB: Oh, my God, wonderful. Honestly, I don’t think anyone else genuinely could have played Hera, but Gaia Wise, she was perfect. She has all of the elements that you want. She’s got so much life in her, and she has that tomboyishness to her, but she also has a kind of, she’s full of curiosity. She’s very intelligent. She’s got a great sense of humor, and so she’s quick, and she’s got a ready laugh, and I can imagine a little bit of wildness about her, but she’s got a heart. You know, that was the thing that got her – she’s got a huge heart.

She fell off her bike. (I hope she doesn’t mind me telling you this!) She got, because she was biking to the ADR session to do some recording, and she actually came off. She got knocked off her bike. She had a big graze on her leg, and I was appalled. I was like, oh, my God, we’ve got to do something. It was absolutely determined to just keep going because I think she was focused. Of course. She was in the zone. She felt, no, look, it’s going to be fine. I’m not, you know, nothing’s broken. And she just got straight into it, and I was just looking at her thinking. Oh my God, you are Hera. The warrior.

GD: I’m looking at the third image we saw, of Wulf outside. He certainly looks like a Dunlending, with the dark hair. I’m looking at that sort of darkness. And you were just saying before about how the Rohirrim are people, they are humans and they have a reality to them and a human quality that, of course, we don’t get in the immortals, the Maiar, the Elves. This is a tale of men.

WULF voiced by LUKE PASQUALINO New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Animation’s epic anime adventure “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

PB: What’s fascinating is the choices that Wulf makes. There is a moment, I think, where he could have, you know, conquering Edoras, if he’d settled down and become a good and wise ruling king, none of this history would have been spoken of. You know, it would have been a challenge by one lord to a lord whose time had potentially passed.

And, given the culture, (which, again, we set up very early on), this is a people who, although he is a king, they are subservient to Gondor, that in itself creates certain levels of tensions; and that although he is a king, he rules by consent, not by right. And so Wulf, if he’d made the right choices, it would have been a different story.

He doesn’t. He makes other choices, and they’re very interesting choices – and where those choices come from is really fascinating. He’s one of my favourite characters ever that we’ve ever created. He and Hera are so strong. They’re wonderful.

And, of course, Brian Cox is just brilliant as Helm. I have to say, no surprise! Unsurprisingly brilliant, which is fantastic for us and for the fans. I think they’re just going to love him.

GD: So with Annecy coming up – which is very exciting… Of course, we’re all reeling with excitement of the news of the ‘Hunt for Gollum’ movie. And I see that Andy Serkis is going to be there to host a panel with you, at Annecy. I noticed looking back on last year’s Annecy that in an interview there, you said that this movie and this story, this animated film, would be ‘a good way back into’ the world of Middle-earth. Did you have an inkling then that this (The War of the Rohirrim) was, to quote Gandalf, the falling of small stones that would start an avalanche? Did you think there was going to be more coming?

PB: Yes, I did. I did. I myself personally felt up for it. It was one of those things where you go back to something that, I mean, you know, you can lose yourself sometimes in making a film. And you kind of lose, you know, I’ve always found that the books were my comfort read. They were the thing that I always had that I could fall into. And in a way, doing the films destroyed that to a certain level.  

What was interesting is going back into this and going back into a part of the story that was so fresh to me. And I think it’s going to be fresh to the audience and yet familiar, which is also brilliant. It re-energized me. I don’t know what it was, but it made me think, you know what – I do love telling stories within this world. It feels like a natural fit.  

And I love the passion of the fans. I genuinely mean that, absolutely. You can tell all the members of the Torn community of TheOneRing that they’re always sitting on my shoulder.  

GD: But in a good way! 

PB: In the best possible way. Because, you know, you’ve got to have such respect for the passion that’s involved there. And I think it’s entirely appropriate and we should be held to a really high standard. And I think Kenji Kamiyama has not only met that standard, he’s smashed it. He had the bar and then he smashed his way through it and set it somewhere even higher. So it’s fantastic. Can’t wait for you guys to see it.  

GD: We can’t wait to see it. It’s so exciting. You know, this year, TheOneRing.net is 25 years old. It’s our silver anniversary! Who would have thought we would be not only still going, but here having the chance to talk to you about new projects. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! Our staffer Demosthenes [who chatted with PB before] asked me to just casually ask you, are we going to see Saruman?

PB: [laughs] I can neither confirm nor deny that! I really can’t. I think he’s, I have to tell you, he’s very acute and perceptive – and some of the things that he was supposing were very much on the money in terms of when he saw the mumaks and things like that. And I thought that was really interesting. But that one I’m not giving him. Tell him I’m sorry! 

GD: I’ll tell him! Well, it’s so great to talk, Philippa. Have a great time in Annecy, and I hope we can connect again; and we just can’t wait for everything that’s coming up.   Thank you so much.

PB: I’m always happy to talk to you guys, absolutely.

Huge thanks to Philippa Boyens, and to Warner Bros. for affording us this exclusive interview. A closer look at these first images is coming soon!
 

Peter Jackson and other luminaries from all quadrants of the Film Business celebrate the life of Sir Christopher Lee (who played Saruman in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) in a new feature-length documentary. We caught up with the director of the film, Jon Spira, to get the real story on Lee’s personal mythology.

The new documentary is completely finished, and pre-orders for the DVD and Blu-ray editions are available on Kickstarter now. With self-distribution, the documentary bonus features will include the full, unexpurgated Peter Jackson interview as well as many other goodies. See a clip here:

Director Jon Spira talks with Quickbeam

Quickbeam: When we were making Ringers: Lord of the Fans, we were just walking around and asking all kinds of people, would you like to share your reflections on the the whole Lord of the Rings fandom. Everybody from David Carradine right on down to Peter Jackson and everyone in between was very happy to say yes. The stories just profusely came out of people. Did you find that people were just really eager to talk about Sir Christopher Lee?

Jon Spira: People really wanted to talk about Christopher Lee because he left an indelible mark on everyone he met. He was loved and admired; and and I say that as two very separate things. The people who knew him truly loved him, and the people who maybe didn’t know him as closely, truly admired him. One of the things that I found really kind of heartening and fascinating to learn was that he was somebody who was completely egalitarian. He would talk to anybody, he treated everybody as his equal, and he would sit down. He loved being on film sets, and he was just as happy talking to a runner as he would be talking to the director.

Christopher Lee didn’t differentiate between people he really didn’t see differently from someone who came from genuine aristocracy. He didn’t see that divide in people. And so he he left a legacy of genuine affection. And that was something which really kind of came out in the film.

Allowing Sir Christopher to be His Own Voice

Quickbeam: I love that that you can discover new insights into your subject without knowing you’re going to arrive there. You you begin as a filmmaker, as a documentarian, you start somewhere and you always surprise yourself and ending up with new places and new information you’ve discovered that actually does recontextualize what you’re trying to present (as a filmmaker).

Jon: There’s some apocryphal stuff out there, but most of those crazy lists are completely true. Really weird stuff. Like, he met Rasputin’s killers and he witnessed the last-ever guillotined person in Paris. You know, all that strange stuff is true!

I trust the process now. I don’t always know going into it. I don’t always know what I’m making. One thing that I really knew was that I wanted Christopher Lee to narrate this film somehow. Like, I knew that he had to be the narrator of the story, because I knew that he was the unreliable narrator.

(Editor’s Note: Jon helped us clarify that Sir Christopher was indeed NOT related to Gen. Lee)

Sir Christopher’s Deep Fascination with Tolkien

Jon: He was completely obsessed with Tolkien. He read Lord of the Rings when it first came out, like, you know, chapter by chapter. And he read it every year. He would read the whole of Lord of the Rings cycle once a year. He was completely obsessed with it. When it was announced that Peter Jackson was going to make the films, he basically grabbed hold of his son-in-law, who was, to a degree, his defacto manager at the time, and basically said: “You have to get me in these films, no matter what. You have to get me in these films–so get online.” Because he personally was a very early adopter of the internet as well, and using it for his fan base, he was like, “Get online, make sure all the fans are talking about this, and make sure that these people know that I need to be in these films!”

I think one of the greatest parts of the documentary is a part that I didn’t direct. Throughout the film we use lots of animation and lots of kind of crazy stuff to tell his stories, and we got a guy called Dave McKean.

Quickbeam: (shocked) Dave McKean of The Sandman fame!!?? The Dave McKean, who does those extraordinary multi-disciplinary, multimedia covers for all of Neil Gaiman’s books and graphic novels?! The Dave McKean who got pulled into the Netflix series to do those weird and beautiful multimedia closing credits sequences?

Jon: Yes! The crazy thing is, I said to him, “You don’t need to consult with me on this.” Without much time, I was expecting kind of a series of slightly moving images like an animatic. But his animatic was really good. How is he going to do it better than this? He ended up doing a whole studio shoot. He created full masks for people. He created a set. And he composed a score for it.

The best part is, Dave Mckean chose to animate the moment where Christopher Lee met J.R.R Tolkien!

The filmmakers express gratitude to @archmodelstudio for their great assistance creating this puppet!

On the Future of Saruman

Justin: For these recreation scenes, now there’s A.I. where you can do voice duplication.

Jon: We went even better than that. Have you heard of Peter Serafinowicz?

Justin: Darth Maul?

Jon: He was our first choice. And he was absolutely amazing. He’s very famous over here as a comedian. Had his own comedy show, and he was on a lot of other kind of shows. And he actually does great work.

Justin: With new Lord of the Rings coming from Peter Jackson and Prime Video, is the technology advanced enough to digitally recreate Christopher Lee’s Saruman? Or do you think recasting Saruman in these new tales is a better path?

Jon: I think recasting. I’ve talked to a lot of people and I’ve looked at deepfakes a lot, but he has qualities that can’t be echoed. I always think back to Rogue One where they kind of tried to do Peter Cushing, and you just go: “But it’s not him!” And at the end they did Carrie Fisher and you just go: “But it’s not her.” It feels off. You can’t recreate life. Not close up. Not that kind of thing. You can’t. The human eye is something which can’t be replicated because it’s the window to the soul. Everything that’s ever happened to someone is kind of behind their eyes.

It’s great for creating creatures and it’s great for creating original things. But if you’re trying to replicate a human being, I honestly don’t think it’ll ever get there. I think there is an anarchy in organic chemistry which will never quite be replicated.

Order the Compete Documentary on Blu-ray

You can watch the entire 90-minute conversation with the director of The Life and Deaths of Christopher Lee on YouTube. Clifford “Quickbeam” and Justin dive in deep with Jon Spira about the myths and legends about Lee, his core drives in life, and how much LOTR fandom really meant to him. Order your copy of the full documentary + bonus features, including interviews with Peter Jackson and Lee’s family, on Kickstarter now.


We’re delighted to share an exclusive interview from fellow Tolkien fanatic Eirik Bull – a journalist from Norway. He recently sat down with our friend, Weta Workshop’s own Daniel Falconer.

In Eirik’s interview with Daniel they cover a lot of topics, looking at Daniel’s history in working in Tolkien’s amazing world, as seen in Sir Peter Jackson’s brilliant adaptations over 20 years ago. Eirik and our friends at Weta asked us to share this interview – and you can look forward to another interview coming soon, with Sir Richard Taylor. We all hope you enjoy this amazing look at Daniel Falconer’s journey in Middle-earth.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – time spent with Weta Workshop’s Daniel Falconer”

Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne have already begun developing Season 3 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The writers’ room has not yet been gathered, but Payne and McKay have “started to break the initial story outline” for Season 3, according to Amazon.

Based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, the Amazon Prime Video series focuses on events that take place during the Second Age of Middle-earth. Filming has wrapped on Season 2 of the show, and the release date has been confirmed as later in 2024, although an exact date has not yet been announced.

The all female slate of directors for Season 2 includes: Charlotte Brändström (4 episodes), who directed episodes 6 and 7 on Season 1 of The Rings of Power; Sanaa Hamri (2 episodes), director of Wheel of Time Season 2; and Louise Hooper (2 epsisodes), who has directed episodes of The Sandman and The Witcher.

Season 2 Directors (L to R): Charlotte Brändström, Sanaa Hamri, Louise Hooper

Season 2 is expected to feature many returning cast members from Season 1, including Morfydd Clarke as Galadriel, Robert Aramayo as Elrond, Owain Arthur as Prince Durin, Sophia Nomvete as Disa, Ismael Cruz Córdova as Arondir, and Charlie Vickers as Sauron, among others. There is an extensive list of newcomers to the show including some well-known actors such as Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones), Rory Kinnear (James Bond), and Tanya Moodie (Star Wars).

New Season 2 actors (L to R): Ciarán Hinds, Rory Kinnear, Tanya Moodie

Though we’ve already seen the three Elven rings forged, a likely focus of Season 2 will be the creation of the remaining twenty rings that Tolkien’s famous poem mentions, along with the subsequent war that Sauron brings to Eregion in order to reclaim them.

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne

–JRR Tolkien

Personally, I’m hoping we get to see some of the early days of the Nazgûl, or in the common tongue, the Ringwraiths, in Season 2. The Men, to whom Sauron gave the Nine Rings along with promises of power and immortality, would have interesting story arcs to watch as they succumb to the power of the Rings and become wraiths.

McKay and Payne have signed a new three-year deal with Amazon MGM Studios.

If not in Season 2, perhaps we will get to see the creation of the Ringwraiths in one of the later seasons. It has been confirmed that McKay and Payne have signed a new three-year deal with Amazon MGM Studios, ostensibly to create the remainder of the five seasons of The Rings of Power that Amazon initially announced. The new deal has the two showrunners developing projects at Amazon MGM through 10:40 PM Productions, McKay and Payne’s own production company.

Production on future seasons of the“The Rings of Power” will take place at a new purpose-built facility on the outskirts of London. Amazon inked a multi-million-dollar long-term contract with Shepperton Studios to create the new space destined for “original TV series and movie productions”, the studios’ owner Pinewood Group said in a statement. The new facility will include nine sound stages, workshop and office spaces, comprising about 450-thousand square feet. Shepperton will be the second largest studios in the world with the new addition.

Last Thursday our friends at Weta Workshop revealed one of their most beautiful environments, The Grey Havens is up for order. This piece captures the beauty and emotion of the Grey Havens perfectly.

Like all previous limited edition pieces, fans have a two-week window to place their order, with pre-orders closing on February 8th at 4 PM PST. The Grey Havens piece is available via pre-order for $799, and it is expected to ship at the end of this year.

Two further pieces Weta Workshop announced are for all fans of The Return of the King coronation sequence. From Weta Workshops classic series, representing that beautiful scene from the film, fans can now pre-order the awesome-looking King Aragorn and the stunning Coronation Arwen right now for $399 each.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Grey Havens, King Aragorn, and Coronation Arwen”

Please join us Friday, October 13th at 7:30pm as we bring back our annual NYC gathering of fans! Once again, we’re delighted to be teaming up with our friends at Sideshow.com to bring you a fun night of drinks, food, prizes, and geekery! Details and the link to buy tickets below.

Photo by Ashlee Rose Scott

We’re back – time to party in the Big Apple during New York Comic-Con!

We’ll be back at our favourite venue, the Joyce Public House (formerly Tir na Nog) in Times Square (W 39th St). The party will be on FRIDAY 13th (eek!) October, 7.30-10.30pm. (All welcome – no NYCC pass required to attend.)

As we all know, costs of everything have gone up, so we’re sorry to say our party tickets have, too! But we’ve managed to keep them down to just $40, which includes your first drink, finger food, and two tickets for the raffle which will be drawn on the night. PLUS every party goer will receive a ‘party favour’ from our friends at Shire Post Mint, to take home with them; AND you can get $25 back in SIDESHOW.COM REWARDS if you set up a Sideshow account!

You can purchase more raffle tickets if you’d like – either here online, or at the party. Check out some of the amazing prizes, listed below!

You never know who may show up to one of our events; we hope to see YOU there! Numbers are strictly limited; grab your tickets now!

Questions? Contact greendragon@theonering.net

Raffle items include… but not all are listed…

  • Tickets to ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ screening with live orchestra, at Radio City (Feb 2024)
  • Hot Toys Mandalorian and Child 1:6 Scale Figure Set
  • Lots of Middle-earth goodies from New Zealand Post
  • Sideshow The Dude Exclusive 1:6 Figure
  • Pokemon Poke Ball Replicas
  • Beautiful Middle-earth items from Scottish designers Oscha
  • Hot Toys Ahsoka Tano 1:6 Clone Wars
  • Sideshow The Child – Life-Size Figure
  • Octunnumi Prologue Custodian Book
  • Hot Toys Knightmare Batman & Superman 1:6 Set
  • Hot Toys Stan Lee Thor Ragnarok 1:6
  • And more…!

Grab your tickets now – see you there!