If there’s one thing we know about The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, it’s that this eight-part series is big. Filmed in New Zealand and on a rumoured budget of $1bn for seasons one and two, the show sports massive battle sequences, hordes of marauding monsters and special effects that will make Peter Jackson’s films of JRR Tolkien’s trilogy look like DIY fringe theatre.
But for all its monumental scale, Rings of Power is still a story about characters: from haughty elves to ale-swilling men, from thatch-bearded dwarves to a new race of eco-friendly proto-Hobbits called Harfoots. The cast that showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay have assembled is remarkable: a lineup that is short on bankable names (unless you count Lenny Henry) but huge on talent and promise, from indie movie mavens to theatrical darlings, from dashing former child actors to (at least) one alumnus of that other fantasy franchise, Game of Thrones.
We sat down with four of them – two elves, a dwarf and a man – to find out how this epic was forged, and whether they’re ready for fan-screaming stardom …
Embarking on any major creative project is a leap of faith. For the Welsh actor Morfydd Clark – star of indie horror Saint Maud – that leap was larger than most. “I moved to New Zealand without knowing which character I was playing,” she says in disbelief. “That seems insane now. All I knew is she was an elf. I never for a moment thought that it could be her.”
Luckily for Clark, her turned out to be Galadriel, the elf queen immortalised (in all senses) by Cate Blanchett in the films, and perhaps the most rounded of all Tolkien’s women. How did Clark feel about slipping into the silk robes of one of the world’s most venerated actors? “I didn’t try to get away from it! I’ve watched those films three times a year since they came out. I’ve got them memorised.”