The countdown to The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is on. With less than two months until it’s released on Amazon Prime Video, it’s time to brush up on all there is to know about the upcoming series that takes place in Second Age Middle-earth, thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
The show is already the most expensive television series made thus far and has been renewed for Season 2 in advance of its premiere, with a plan for at least five seasons. As more information is released, TV Guide is keeping an eagle eye out for any and all spoilers about the upcoming series. We’ve compiled the premiere date, casting news, and all the plot information currently out there. Here’s what we know so far.
During the show’s San Diego Comic-Con panel on July 22, a new trailer was released for the series that shocked even panel moderator and Tolkein expert Stephen Colbert, who said he didn’t even know who some of the characters were.
Amazon dropped the main teaser for The Rings of Power on July 14. It featured a tense conversation between Robert Aramayo’s Elrond and Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel where Elrond tells Galadriel to “put up the sword,” saying she has fought long enough. But Galadriel says the enemy is still out there. “You have not seen what I have seen,” she emphasizes. And a shot of bodies floating in front of a fiery land is played — seemingly a premonition of what could happen to Middle-earth.
On July 8, Amazon shared a teaser for the series along with new photos. The video gave a closer look at Middle-earth, as characters from Clark’s Galadriel to Ismael Cruz Córdova’s Arondir stared at the sky.
Amazon dropped the first trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power during Super Bowl LVI. The clip included glimpses of Aramayo as the half-Elven, half-human Elrond, Owain Arthur as the dwarven prince Durin IV, and Clark as Galadriel.
On Feb. 3, the show’s official Twitter account shared nearly two dozen teaser posters, zoomed in on what appear to be the hands of key characters from the show. Some of these hands hold weapons, from a metal hammer to a broken sword. Others hold food, like acorns and an apple. The photos also show the different clothing worn by each individual, from golden armor to dirty tunics. See some of the images below, and more on the official The Rings of Power Twitter account.
On Jan. 19, Amazon revealed the official title of the new series with an intensely cool video (that could make for a potential opening credits sequence). The series is called The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The narrator of the teaser — who seems to be Welsh actress Morfydd Clark, who plays young Galadriel — also clues in viewers to how many rings we are dealing with in this prequel series. “Three rings for the elven kings under the sky. Seven for the dwarf lords in their holes of stone. Nine for mortal men, doomed to die. One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne in the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie,” she says. Sounds very ominous indeed! The title confirms that the show will focus on Sauron’s rise to power, which involved forging 20 rings in order to take control of Middle-earth.
Mark your calendars for fall 2022: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will premiere Friday, Sept. 2 in Amazon Prime Video. The news of the premiere date was accompanied by a first look image.
Season 1 will be eight episodes. Amazon announced at the Television Critics Association 2020 winter press tour that the series’ first season will span eight episodes. Details on how long each episode will run haven’t been announced.
It will be a prequel. Amazon has confirmed that the television series will be set in the Second Age of Middle-earth. The Second Age lasted 3,441 years, and it ended with the downfall of the Dark Lord Sauron, the antagonist in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Per Vanity Fair, the show will “juggle 22 stars and multiple story lines, from deep within the dwarf mines of the Misty Mountains to the high politics of the elven kingdom of Lindon and the humans’ powerful, Atlantis-like island, Númenor.”
About 2,000 years before the events of the rest of the Lord of the Rings series, Galadriel is leading the charge against the remnants of the dark lord’s acolytes, particularly his apprentice Sauron, who is off the grid somewhere.
As she tells Elrond in the first full trailer for the series, she has been changed by her time at war. Which war? In the books, it would be the millennia-long struggle against Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, among the oldest beings in the universe. In Tolkien’s lore, Middle-earth’s Second Age began after the combined forces of elves, Numenorean humans, and the Valar — Middle-earth’s pantheon of protector gods — defeated Morgoth’s armies and imprisoned the dark god outside of reality.
The Rings of Power appears to pick up with everything that happened next, concerning those elves, the men of Numenor, the gods, and the remnants of Morgoth’s servants — and Galadriel appears convinced that they can be found and must be routed out. We know she starts adrift at sea, where she meets Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), “a fugitive from his own past” and a new character introduced in the show. Eventually this will all lead to the main event of the series’ story and the prequel itself: the forging of the rings of power.
“Rings for the elves, rings for dwarves, rings for men, and then the one ring Sauron used to deceive them all,” co-showrunner Patrick McKay told Vanity Fair. “It’s the story of the creation of all those powers, where they came from, and what they did to each of those races.”
A Game of Thrones alum will lead the series. Robert Aramayo, who played young Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, is set to star. He replaces Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Midsommaractor Will Poulter, who dropped out over a scheduling conflict. Aramayo plays Elrond, the elf ruler.
Amazon confirmed in January 2020 that Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Daniel Weyman, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, and Markella Kavenagh had officially joined the series.
In December 2020, Amazon announced even more cast members. These included Maxim Baldry, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, newcomer Ian Blackburn, Kip Chapman, Anthony Crum, Maxine Cunliffe, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Thusitha Jayasundera, Fabian McCallum, Simon Merrells, Geoff Morrell, Peter Mullan, Lloyd Owen, Augustus Prew, Peter Tait, Alex Tarrant, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, and Sara Zwangobani.
Here is the cast alongside their character names:
ROB ARAMAYO – Elrond
OWAIN ARTHUR – Durin IV
SOPHIA NOMVETE – Disa
BEN WALKER – Gil-galad
LLOYD OWEN – Elendil
LEON WADHAM – Kemen
MORFYDD CLARK – Galadriel
NAZANIN BONIADI – Bronwyn
CHARLIE VICKERS – Halbrand
MARKELLA KAVENAGH – Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot
DYLAN SMITH – Largo Brandyfoot
TYROE MUHAFIDIN – Theo (Bronwyn’s son)
CHARLES EDWARDS – Celebrimbor
CYNTHIA ADDAI-ROBINSON – Miriel
EMA HORVATH – Earien
ISMAEL CRUZ CORDOVA – Arondir
DANIEL WEYMAN – The Stranger
MAXIM BALDRY – Isildur
TRYSTAN GRAVELLE – Pharazon
MEGAN RICHARDS – Poppy Proudfellow
SARA ZWANGOBANI – Marigold Brandyfoot
Legolas won’t be making an appearance. Fans of the original film series learned directly from Orlando Bloom that his character, Legolas, likely will not appear in the series.
But Galadriel and Elrond will. Variety reported in 2019 that His Dark Materials actress Morfydd Clark had been tapped to portray the younger version of Cate Blanchett’s character in the Peter Jackson films, and Rob Aramayo is playing a younger version of Elrond, the character played by Hugo Weaving. And there are sure to be many more film references, as the Second Age was centered around the defeat of Sauron.
The new series will feature non-canonical characters, but Tolkein fans need not worry. At the show’s first Comic-Con panel, the creative team promised that they worked with Tolkein scholars, linguists, and lore masters in the writers room to make sure that the new characters fit into the world of Lord of the Rings. That includes Harfoots, a breed of dwarf Tolkein only wrote two “tantalizing” paragraphs about, and the first ever female dwarf, Disa (Nomvete), who will have a beard and is married to Durin (Arthur).
Whenever there was a question during the writing process, the answer was always, “Go back to the book, go back to the book, go back to the book,” to dissect whatever clues Tolkein offered about the Second Age. Fans will also get to see the city of Numenor, which fell at the end of the Second Age, on screen for the very first time.
As for The Stranger, played by Daniel Weyman, he is designed to be a mystery that will unfold over the course of the series. He’ll likely be revealed as someone the audience is familiar with (Gandalf or Sauron?), but for now, he is simply The Stranger.
It’s coming from fantasy and sci-fi heavy hitters. JD Payne and Patrick McKay, who previously worked on Star Trek 4, have been tapped to helm the series, and Game of Thrones writer and producer Bryan Cogman has signed on to consult on the series. The creative team will also include executive producers Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire), and Sharon Tal Yguado, along with writers Gennifer Hutchinson (Breaking Bad), Jason Cahill (The Sopranos), and Jason Doble (Stranger Things). Stephany Folsom (Toy Story 4) joins Cogman as a consulting producer, while Ron Ames and Helen Shang (Hannibal) will also produce. Kate Hawley has been chosen as the series’ costume designer, while Rick Henrichs joins as production designer, and Jason Smith supervises visual effects, per Variety.
The first two episodes have an exciting director. Juan Antonio (J.A.) Bayona has been hired to direct the first two episodes of the series, Deadline reports. In a statement, Bayona said of the news, “J.R.R. Tolkien created one of the most extraordinary and inspiring stories of all time, and as a lifelong fan it is an honor and a joy to join this amazing team. I can’t wait to take audiences around the world to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never before seen story.” His directing credits include Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Impossible, The Orphanage, and episodes of Penny Dreadful.
Peter Jackson isn’t involved. The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit director confirmed to French press outlets that he is not involved in Amazon’s new series.
It’s already renewed for Season 2. Amazon announced in November 2019 that it had renewed the series for a second season after filming only two episodes of Season 1. Production then went on a hiatus so the bulk of Season 2 could be written. Given that Amazon reportedly committed to multiple seasons of this prequel series when it acquired the rights to Lord of the Rings (with an option for a potential spin-off), it sounds like this is just the beginning of a whole lot more Lord of the Rings content.
During the show’s Comic-Con panel on July 22, 2022, Payne and McKay revealed that Amazon bought the rights to 10,000 years of Middle-earth history, and basically allowed them to choose where they wanted to set their show. They planned for a 50-hour story about the Second Age, but with such a vast era of time to work with, it means there are many more stories available for Amazon to tell.
Where to Watch
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres Friday, Sept. 2 on Amazon Prime Video, and new episodes will debut weekly.
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