“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” is taking J.R.R. Tolkien fans back to Middle-earth.
Thanks to Amazon Prime, the streamer is expanding the “LOTR” universe with a prequel series set thousands of years before the events of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” books.
The multi-season drama is based on the “LOTR” appendices written by Tolkien and explores the Second Age, a time when Middle-earth was at peace right before one of the greatest evils takes over, creating chaos. The actor cast to play play the dark lord Sauron, the show's primary antagonist, has not been confirmed.
Within this tale, viewers will get to see how the 20 magical rings of power were forged. As legend has it, there were three rings for the elves, seven for the dwarves, nine for men — and one to rule them all (sound familiar?).
“We thought the war, at last, was ended. We thought our joys would be unending. We thought our light would never dim,” a young Galadriel says in the latest trailer shown at San Diego Comic-Con, before saying that “evil does not sleep.”
The epic— and pricey — saga (Variety reports the first season cost $465 million) will show familiar places and stunning new locations like the island kingdom of Númenor and elf cities Lindon and Eregion. It also features a large ensemble cast with a couple of familiar faces.
Before the series debuts on Sept. 2, meet the characters taking over Middle-earth in “The Rings of Power.”
Ismael Cruz Córdova is Arondir
Arondir is a new character created for the series, with Córdova being the first person of color to play an elf onscreen in a Tolkien project, per Vanity Fair. He is in a forbidden relationship with human healer Bronwyn, mimicking elf Arwen’s (Liv Tyler) romance with human Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) depicted in the "Lord of the Rings" movies.
Nazanin Boniadi is Bronwyn
Bronwyn is human and a Tirharad villager who falls in love with elf Arondir. Theirs is the “the love story of the season,” according to Boniadi's interview with Entertainment Tonight. The healer, who was created for the series, also has a son named Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin).
“I play a human from the southlands. I’m a healer, I’m a mother of a somewhat rebellious teenage son, but I’m also in a forbidden romance with an elf,” Boniadi said, adding Bronwyn “has an inner lioness. So, you’re gonna see things from her -- like, don’t judge a book by its cover is all I have to say.”
Tyroe Muhafidin is Theo
Theo is also an original character made for “The Rings of Power.” Aside from Boniadi describing him as “rebellious,” not much is known about the son of Bronwyn — yet.
Charles Edwards is Celebrimbor
Celebrimbor could have a major role in the series as he’s the elven-smith who forged the Rings of Power after he was manipulated by Sauron in disguise. The rings aid in Sauron's rise. The elf, who is described as a "brilliant" artisan of widespread reputation by EW, has a close friendship with the Khazad-dûm dwarves.
Sophia Nomvete is Princess Disa and Owain Arthur is Prince Durin IV
Disa is a dwarven princess, and the first Black woman to play a dwarf in the franchise, as well as the first female dwarf. She is also Prince Durin’s boss.
“It’s a miracle both personally and career wise,” Nomvete said about the feat in a Comic-Con panel. “It is necessary for the world, for every single race and world we live in, for females to be present. So to uncover and discover and build her was an utter joy and honor.”
Durin is the prince of the underground kingdom of Khazad-dûm, located under the Misty Mountains. The great city, also known as Moria, was abandoned by the dwarves in the Third Age. By the time of the "Lord of the Rings" movies, a balrog, a monster, inhabits the former kingdom.
Leon Wadham as Kemen, Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Queen Regent Míriel, Trystan Gravelle as Pharazôn, Lloyd Owen as Elendil, Ema Horvath as Eärien and Maxim Baldry as Isildur
Meet the human inhabitants of the island of Númenor. Spoiler: The series will depict the island's downfall.
Númenórean native Kemen is the son of the powerful Chancellor Pharazôn. He is a new character made for the series, and one that will be at odds with his father.
“I think with the kids of powerful people, sometimes they’re determined to match or outdo their parents’ accomplishments and sometimes they feel pretty comfortable to coast,” the actor said about his character during a Comic-Con panel. “And I feel like he is in the latter category at this stage. He’s been born into a golden age, he’s had everything he’s ever wanted, and he’s never had any reason to question that … much to his father’s chagrin.”
Míriel is the queen regent, daughter of King Tar-Palantir, who oversees Númenor, the island realm known for being a haven of culture and knowledge. She is also the last rightful heir of Númenor, per ET.
As for Pharazôn, he’s referred and thought of as the last King of Númenor. He “is council to the queen regent and head of the guilds,” as Gravelle described during a Comic-Con panel. “So I guess he’s a true servant of Númenor and his job would be to marry the relationship between the working people of Númenor and the regency.”
“When you see the set of Númenor, it’s like you’re walking through (Pharazôn’s) mind,” Gravelle told EW. “When you see these epic statues and this wonderful masonry, you’re walking through the mind of a person that’s burdened by his own mortality and is very concerned about what legacy he’s going to leave behind.”
Elendil had a brief appearance in the “LOTR” films and was portrayed by Peter McKenzie. His character is known as the High King of the Dúnedain (another word for the men of Númenor), who is killed by Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance.
“Ultimately, those of us that know the lore know Elendil ends up helping to lead the Last Alliance of elves and men,” Owens told EW about his character. “But how he gets there? Tolkien hasn’t written the man in three dimensions, and that’s the gift of this (show).”
Elendil, in the books, is father to sons Anárion and Isildur. However, in the series, Anárion is replaced by a daughter named Eärien.
Eärien is a new character and is described as “bright and ambitious” with hopes of becoming an architect, per EW. “(She’s) on the cusp of womanhood,” Horvath said. “She’s still quite insecure and naïve about the way the world works.”
As for Isildur, “LOTR” fans know the older version, the King of Gondor, from “The Fellowship of the Ring.” At the beginning, he’s seen as the one who slices the ring from Sauron’s hand, only to fall under the one ring’s mighty evil spell. The series will show a young Isildur, who is just a young sailor following in his father Elendil’s footsteps, per EW.
“He’s one of the characters most ripe for deepening because everyone knows him,” co-showrunner JD Payne told EW. “He’s most defined by his final, fatal decision to keep the Ring, when he has the chance to throw the Ring into Mount Doom and destroy Sauron forever, and he chooses incorrectly. We sort of said, ‘How do we make that a tragic turn in an otherwise very human, relatable, and heroic arc?’”
During a Comic-Con panel, Owen and Baldry teased their father-son dynamic.
“It is a complex relationship between father and son,” Baldry said, with Owen adding, “All I can say is, don’t always blame the parents.”
Robert Aramayo is Elrond
Elrond is among the most recognizable characters in this series. He first appeared in the original trilogy and was portrayed by Hugo Weaving. Elrond is the half-elven Lord of Rivendell and Arwen’s father. Viewers will see his early beginnings in the upcoming prequel series.
“I really was interested to take a character who is in such a different place in the third age, in the books that we know, and sort of trace it back and see where he came from,” Robert Aramayo said during a Comic-Con panel. “It’s a very famous past, which was really exciting to explore.”
Morfydd Clark is Galadriel
Galadriel is another memorable character seen in the original films. The role was first portrayed by Cate Blanchett. “The Rings of Power” brings a youthful Galadriel who has yet become the powerful leader of Lothlorien.
“Middle-earth is experiencing a period of peace,” Clark told ET about where viewers find her character at the beginning of the series. “She doesn’t believe it and so, she kind of is screaming into the void — and almost in her own horror to a degree — because she feels there’s something so dangerous (but) no one is taking her seriously.”
Benjamin Walker is High King Gil-galad
People might be familiar with the name Gil-galad as he's mentioned in the poem “The Fall of Gil-galad” that Samwise Gamgee sings in the books. The poem tells the story of the death of the Elven High King Gil-galad, who battled Sauron and lost his life in the process.
However, more of the ruler of Lindon will be told in the show.
“Everyone knows Gil-galad from that song that Sam sings, but there isn’t a wealth of information about him in the text,” Walker told EW. “My favorite part is that he has this odd gift of foresight. He’s prescient, and he’s ahead of the curve. He can kind of feel the pulse of evil rising. He’s attuned to the life force of Middle-earth, and he’s chosen to stay.”
Charlie Vickers is Halbrand
Halbrand crosses paths with Galadriel and accompanies her from the Sundering Seas to the island of Númenor.
“There are a few things about Hal which are quite interesting, particularly his relationship with Galadriel,” Vickers told EW. “He’s coming from this place in his past where he’s trying to let go of his past and move on. But in meeting her, she starts to illuminate some things in his mind and things about his past and his destiny that he maybe hadn’t considered. It makes him look at things in a different way.”
Dylan Smith is Largo Brandyfoot, Markella Kavenagh is Elanor "Nori" Brandyfoot and Megan Richards is Poppy Proudfellow
The Harfoots are one of three breeds of hobbits. The Harfoots are a migratory community and carry their homes on the backs.
Largo is described by Smith as a “mischievous” dad with an “innocent heart" in an interview with ET. “He sees it in his children. And yet, I don’t think anybody will guess how tough the Harfoot are,” the actor told ET.
Nori is also Harfoot and daughter of Largo and Marigold. Kavenagh described her character as an empath, playful and “frustrating to a lot of beings and her family,” adding that Nori ultimately leads with love.
“She’s a very resolute, inquisitive, curious half foot and she kind of leads with the idea that a fear of risk can be greater than the risk itself and sometimes you just need to take it,” the actor said during a Comic-Con panel.” “She is a risk taker, she wants to believe that you can find solutions to risk taking.”
Poppy is Nori’s best friend and are the “the ying to each other’s yang,” Richards shared in the same panel. One could compare them to Hobbits Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippen (Billy Boyd) from “The Fellowship.”
The actor noted that Poppy is “more cautious of the two and tries to rein Nori in.” However, Nori does what she wants, and Poppy follows despite her advice.
Nori and Poppy see where a meteor crashes and discover a man, dubbed the Stranger (Daniel Weyman), in the crater.
Lenny Henry (Sadoc Burrows), Sara Zwangobani (Marigold Brandyfoot)
Sadoc is the Harfoot leader who looks out for his people and keeps them out of trouble.
Marigold is mother to Nori and a hobbit that doesn't like to embrace change.
“They have lived a way of life for many generations. They expected that way of life to continue, and then something happens that upsets the balance of that,” Zwangobani told Screen Rant about her character. “Part of the struggle is that there’s some people in my family who are really ready to embrace the new, and there are some people like Marigold, who are just trying to protect what we have. And I think that’s where the challenges lie.”
Daniel Weyman is The Stranger
Among the most mysterious of the bunch is The Stranger. Weyman teased his character’s role in the new saga, sharing that “everybody’s gonna have to watch to learn what happens, who he is, what he’s bringing to the table, what his intentions are,” he said during a Comic-Con panel. “I can tell you that … he had a really deep source of purpose. That was the thing that I was able to follow. There’s something very sort of primal in him … there is a need that he follows. And I think, you know, that was the building block for me.”
“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” premieres Friday, Sept. 2 on Prime Video.