Amazon’s mysterious, purportedly billion-dollar-budgeted Lord of the Rings TV series will take place LONG before the events of Peter Jackson’s movies. Setting the tone for this small screen return to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the first two episodes will be directed by J.A. Bayona, who helmed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
The Lord of the Rings TV series is set during Middle Earth’s Second Age – that’s thousands of years before Bilbo Baggins, Gollum or Aragorn ever existed! Moreover, the end of said age was a full millennium before the Wizards (Gandalf, Saruman, et al.) even arrived in Middle Earth, which makes the series a prequel in an epochal sense.
Lord of the Rings Amazon Cast
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series cast has just added a whopping 13 series regulars! The show’s “fellowship” will include Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, and Daniel Weyman. The news was announced at the TCA Winter Tour.
“After undertaking an extensive global search, we are delighted finally to reveal the first group of brilliant performers who will take part in Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series,” showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said in a statement (via The Wrap). “These exceptionally talented women and men are more than just our actors: they are the newest members of an ever-expanding creative family that is now working tirelessly to bring Middle-earth to life anew for fans and audiences worldwide.”
They join a cast that includes…
Robert Aramayo, best known as Young Ned Stark on Game of Thrones, has landed the lead role for which the departed Will Poulter was previously tapped. While little is known about the character, he is being referred to as “Beldor,” and is said to be heroic. Poulter, who was cast back in September, is no longer attached to the series, having reportedly withdrawn over scheduling conflicts. You can read more about Aramayo’s casting right here.
Morfydd Clark has been cast for a lead role as a familiar character, according to Variety. She will play a younger version of Galadriel, the ancient elven Lady of Lothlórien, famously played by Cate Blanchett in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and (anachronistic to the novels,) The Hobbit films. Clark will be immediately recognizable to viewers currently following HBO’s His Dark Materials from her role as the daemon-deprived Sister Clara, and will field the major role of Mina in the imminent Netflix/BBC Dracula miniseries. She’s notably appeared in horror film Crawl, Benedict Cumberbatch miniseries Patrick Melrose and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
The Galadriel news is a potent reveal for the series, and not just because of the recasting with Clark. The character – an ancient elf from Valinor who predates the First Age – famously used her long-hone magic powers to aid Frodo and the Fellowship in their journey during the Rings Trilogy. Yet, said powers happen to be rooted in her possession of Nenya, one of the three Rings of Power bestowed to the race of Elves; a trinket whose powers come with a caveat since, thanks to Sauron’s trickery, it is ultimately subordinate to the One Ring. Consequently, with the show’s Second Age setting (the era of the Rings of Power,) the inclusion of Galadriel seems to signal a story centered on Sauron’s deceitful claim to fame.
Ema Horvath will play an unspecified character as a series regular, reported Deadline. A relative newcomer, Horvath made her onscreen debut in the 2017 horror film, Like.Share.Follow, in which she appeared opposite Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash’s Wally West), moving on to field roles in 2019 horror films The Gallows Act II and The Mortuary Collection. She’ll soon be seen opposite star Mena Suvari in a thriller titled Viscious.
Joseph Mawle will play a villain, reported Variety, whose sources claim that the character will be named “Oren.” The Oxford-born actor is best known as Benjen Stark on Game of Thrones, which he fielded in Season 1, eventually returning as the show’s version of book character Coldhands in Season 7. He recently fielded BBC TV runs on drama MotherFatherSon, actioner Troy: Fall of a City, and was memorable as a corrupt pugilist police inspector on Ripper Street. He’ll eventually be seen as part of auteur director Terrence Malick’s developing film, The Last Planet.
Maxim Baldry will field an unspecified “significant” role, reported Collider. The English actor just had what’s considered a breakout performance on this past June’s HBO television drama series, Years and Years, having fielded a run on Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, a 2013 guest spot on BBC’s Skins and, back in 2007 as a child, had a three-episode run on HBO’s Rome, also appearing in 2007’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday. He’ll next be seen in 2020’s Season 8 premiere of Showtime’s Strike Back.
Markella Kavenagh (The Cry, Picnic at Hanging Rock) was the first cast member revealed for the series. While details are still scarce, she is reportedly set to play a character named Tyra. You can read more about her casting right here.
Lord of the Rings Amazon Release Date
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings doesn’t have a release date as of yet. But we do know that filming is underway. The show is set to return to the classic film franchise’s production stomping grounds of New Zealand, specifically in Auckland, where principal photography will commence, as the company states, “in the coming months.” The confirmation came from Amazon, which issued a statement from showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay:
“As we searched for the location in which we could bring to life the primordial beauty of the Second Age of Middle-earth, we knew we needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains, that also is a home to world-class sets, studios, and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople and other staff. And we’re happy that we are now able to officially confirm New Zealand as our home for our series based on stories from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.”
Lord of the Rings Amazon Crew
Juan Antonio (J.A.) Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Orphanage, The Impossible) will direct the first two episodes, according to Deadline. He will also serve as an executive producer, alongside his producing partner Belén Atienza. “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,” Bayona said in a statement. “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.”
Game of Thrones is coming to Middle Earth! – Well, Bryan Cogman, a winter-tested writer with Westeros work on his CV is coming, anyway, since that show’s watch is ended. Cogman recently joined the writing team as a consultant, reported Variety. After starting an assistant to showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Cogman has since worn many hats on HBO’s Game of Thrones going back to the show’s first season, having written 11 episodes total – the most recent of which was Season 8’s pre-battle character study, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” – and served as a producer on several episodes, ascending to co-executive producer for the last two seasons. He’s also attached to the screenplay for Disney’s live-action adaptation of its 1963 Arthurian animated classic, The Sword in the Stone.
The Lord of the Rings gig will see newcomers Bayona and Cogman join JD Payne and Patrick McKay, who were brought onboard the project back in July 2018, well before Amazon divulged any official details on the series.
Here’s the officially released list of the show’s creative team:
Executive producers Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire) and Sharon Tal Yguado; writer/executive producer Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad); writer/executive producer Jason Cahill (The Sopranos) writer/executive producer Justin Doble (Stranger Things); consulting producers Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones) and Stephany Folsom (Toy Story 4); producer Ron Ames (The Aviator); writer/co-producer Helen Shang (Hannibal), and writing consultant Glenise Mullins.
Lord of the Rings Amazon Story
Amazon’s officially released series-era map not only confirmed the show’s time period, stating, “Welcome to the Second Age,” but bore another bountiful clue: the five-pointed-star-shaped southwest island kingdom of Númenor. An ancient kingdom of Men with long lifespans, Númenor flourished throughout much of the Second Age until the initial incursions of Sauron, which eventually led to the kingdom’s legendary fall and Elendil’s arrival on the mainland, where he eventually founded the kingdom of Gondor.
Given Amazon’s tweeted teases, which recalls tropes connected to the Ring of Power, one might further deduce that the Lord of the Rings series will specifically chronicle the epoch’s mythology-setting events. Pertinently, the sporadically posted lines in the teasers recall the Second Age story in which Sauron deceived the kingdoms of Elves, Men and Dwarves with rings of power that he secretly controlled with the One Ring; a story famously told in The Fellowship of the Ring film prologue by Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel. We could also take this to mean that the Lord of the Rings TV show might showcase the formation of Gondor and the era in which Sauron’s insidious plot first came to a head; events that were briefly chronicled in Tolkien’s posthumously-published quasi-Biblical Middle Earth chronicle, The Silmarillion, specifically in the section titled “Akallabêth.”
Amazon Prime Video recently started teasing its small screen return to the beauteous-but-brutal land of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth mythology with an official Twitter account, which provocatively started posting maps, including downloadable versions hosted on the main Amazon site. Having started by posting a label-less version of the Middle Earth map, Amazon would incrementally reveal things by updating the map with land labels, which provided valuable clues about the show’s time setting. The first major revelation came in February with the release of a map containing a name that’s archaic to the familiar era of the Third Age – in which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings novels and Peter Jackson-directed films take place.
The name on the map in question was “Calenardhon,” which was the ancient original name of the pastoral plains of the region that we know as the kingdom of Rohan (founded in 2510 in the Third Age), which we saw on magnificent display in the Rings Trilogy’s 2002 middle act, The Two Towers. Additionally, the familiar sight to Rohan’s south, the great kingdom of Gondor, was nowhere to be seen on the map. This was a crucial clue, since Gondor (along with Northern Kingdom Arnor,) was founded by King Elendil and his sons during the Second Age of Middle Earth in 3320, setting up a climactic confrontation in 3441 between “The Last Alliance of Elves and Men” against Sauron and his evil army from Mordor – again, as depicted in the Fellowship prologue.
Consequently, with the Lord of the Rings series now confirmed to take place in the Second Age, speculation can begin on how it might fill in the gaps of the first war over the One Ring, potentially showcasing movie prologue characters like King Elendil, his son and eventual One Ring-owner, Isildur, as well as the powerful high-born Elven king, Gil-galad. Moreover, it appears that we might finally get to see Sauron himself as an actual character, rather than a giant irritated flaming eye!
We will keep you updated on the major developments of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series as the news arrives!