Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power showrunners and cast discussed creating their shows immense world and comparisons to HBO’s Game of Thrones at the Television Critic Association’s semi-annual press tour Friday.
But the congenial panel’s most lean-forward moment might have been when a reporter called the highly anticipated fantasy show only “vaguely connected” to author J.R.R. Tolkien’s work compared to The Lord of the Rings movies, which were “based on actual printed materials.”
“I just want to sort of quibble with the ‘vaguely connected,’” said Patrick McKay, who is showrunner on the series along with J.D. Payne. “We don’t feel that way. We feel like deep roots of this show are in the books and in Tolkien. And if we didn’t feel that way, we’d all be terrified to sit up here. We feel that this story isn’t ours. It’s a story we’re stewarding that was here before us and was waiting in those books to be on Earth. We don’t feel ‘vaguely connected.’ We feel deeply, deeply connected to those folks and work every day to even be closer connected. That’s really how we think about it.”
The Rings of Power is primarily based on the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, specifically the description of Middle Earth’s Second Age, and includes younger versions of some of the immortal elven characters in the original trilogy. The showrunners point out their work on the project extends back 25 years and they’ve closely collaborated with “incredible scholars who have devoted their whole lives to Tolkien’s work.”
The duo and the cast were also asked about the inevitable comparisons to HBO’s fantasy hit Game of Thrones, which has a prequel series, House of the Dragon, launching two weeks before the Sept. 2 debut of Rings of Power.
“I’ll take a whack at that,” McKay said. “We talked about this a lot. It comes up and and we totally understand where where the question comes from. We don’t think of the show in terms of what genre or other shows that might be out there. We think about [Tolkien], his life’s work was creating this world. This is Tolkien’s Middle Earth and regions beyond Middle Earth and we just wanted to be true to that and sort of drown out and forget about what might be happening in another realm someplace else…. Tolkien’s work is endlessly applicable across cultures and across across times, and we feel really grateful to be able to bring it to life in our time.”
Actor Robert Aramayo was also asked about the “rivalry,” given he played Young Ned Stark on Thrones before being cast as Young Elrond in The Rings of Power.
“I don’t feel rivalry .. the materials are so different,” he said. “I love fantasy. So now we obviously get to watch more fantasy, which can never be a bad thing.”