Good news, all you Lord of the Rings fans: There’s a brand new Middle-earth tale to dive into. The new series, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, is a prequel set in the Second Age and Amazon reportedly spent a pretty penny producing it (more on that below). We can only imagine that means its action-packed scenes will not disappoint even the biggest fans. To learn all about the show’s cast, shooting schedule, and its many J.R.R. Tolkien influences, keep reading.
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The show was almost a Netflix series.
The streaming giant entered a bidding war with Amazon Studios, who eventually won and acquired the rights for $250 million.
HBO was also in the running.
HBO was approached by the Tolkien estate to pick up the series—largely due to its connection to the distribution company of the original trilogy. Since HBO is associated with New Line Cinema, it could have potentially used material from the films.
Jeff Bezos was heavily involved in the negotiations.
In a very rare move, the Amazon founder personally worked on the agreement between Warner Bros, the Tolkien estate, and Amazon. For years, he reportedly pushed his entertainment division to come up with a fantasy series that would rival HBO’s Game of Thrones, and this was it for him.
Amazon bought the rights all the way back in 2017.
The highly-anticipated project has been literally years in the making.
The premiere date was chosen to honor J.R.R. Tolkien.
September 2, 2022 is the 49th anniversary of the iconic writer’s death.
It’s the most expensive TV show in history.
A total of $1 billion—yes, billion—is expected to be spent on its production.
There’s a meaning behind the name.
Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said in a press release that Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age. They teased that audiences have only seen the story of the One Ring on-screen—until now. Diehard fans know, before there was one ring, there were may.
Serious security measures were taken to prevent any leaks or spoilers.
“You have to go through such clearance, and they have all their windows taped closed,” Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke told The Hollywood Reporter about the writers’ room. “And there’s a security guard that sits outside, and you have to have a fingerprint to get in there, because their whole board is up on a thing of the whole season.”
The Tolkien estate had one non-negotiable.
Show creators worked with the Tolkien estate to condense the timeline.
In the original Lord of the Rings, the Second Age lasted for thousands of years. That would’ve been difficult to bring into the show, since it would mean all of the humans would die off—leaving only the same Elven characters over the course of the series. Production worked with the Tolkien estate to shorten the timeline so that viewers can stay “emotionally invested” in the characters.
The title reveal was Douglas Trumbull’s final project.
It’s one of the most diverse projects in ‘Lord of the Rings’ history.
Show creators wanted to hire a diverse cast. “If you’re going to tell this story in 2022, this to me feels like the only way to tell it, the only way to represent it,” actress Cynthia Addai-Robinson, who stars as Queen Regent Míriel, told Yahoo Entertainment. “And I think people have been really hungry to see full representation in this world. Because at the end of the day this story is all about people of different backgrounds coming together for a common cause.”
There will also be more storylines focused on women.
The series made sure to stray from the male-centric plots that came before it. “Every woman has agency on this show,” Nazanin Boniadi, who plays Bronwyn, revealed to Yahoo Entertainment. “Every female character is not there to serve the male characters around her. Every one of us has autonomy and our storylines.”
The first season took an entire year to film.
The cast shot in New Zealand from 2020 to 2021, but paused for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Zealand granted all cast and crew a special exemption.
While New Zealand closed its borders in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the series was one of seven shows granted exemptions to allow cast and crew members to enter the country.
Owain Arthur spent three hours in the makeup chair every day.
The Dwarven prosthetics weren’t easy to apply, but the actor’s transformation into Prince Durin IV will be one of the most memorable of the entire series.
The series is expected to last at least five seasons.
Expect most—if not all—loose ends and lingering questions to be answered by the end of the series. “The rights that Amazon bought were for a 50-hour show. They knew from the beginning that was the size of the canvas—this was a big story with a clear beginning, middle, and end,” showrunner J.D. Payne told Empire.
Showrunners already have the entire series mapped out.
Without the fear of being cancelled mid-series, showrunners and writers were granted the time and space to cover even the smallest of details—J.D. Payne told Empire there are things in the first season that don’t pay off until Season 5. “We even know what our final shot of the last episode is going to be,” he teased.
One of the actors also starred in ‘Game of Thrones.’
If you recognize Robert Aramayo, that’s because he played a young Ned Stark in the hit HBO series. Years later, he’s playing a younger version of another major character: Elrond Half-elven.
You won’t see any hobbits for a reason.
“One of the very specific things the texts say is that hobbits never did anything historic or noteworthy before the Third Age,” showrunner Patrick McKay told Vanity Fair. They did find a fun workaround, however. Hobbit ancestors, called harfoots, will make an appearance.
There aren’t many super graphic scenes.
While it’s true Jeff Bezos wanted a series with Game of Thrones-like success, showrunners chose to keep a much younger audience in mind. The goal was “to make a show for everyone, for kids who are 11, 12, and 13, even though sometimes they might have to pull the blanket up over their eyes if it’s a little too scary,” Patrick McKay told Vanity Fair.
The theme song might sound familiar.
Oscar-winner Howard Shore, the man behind the music of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, has returned to compose the show’s main title theme.
Peter Jackson is willing to help out if asked.
While the director behind the film trilogy, Peter Jackson, is not directly involved in the new series, he has offered his guidance. “I think they’re going to send us some scripts to see if we can help them along,” he told Metro back in 2018. “I wish them all the best and if we can help them we certainly will try. It’s a big task.”
A major mystery won’t have an answer just yet.
Get ready to be spooked by The Stranger—a mysterious, anonymous character who will leave you on the edge of your seat. Daniel Weyman, the actor behind the unnamed figure, revealed viewers won’t learn of his “intentions or true nature” in the first season.
Special scholars helped dream up new characters.
A team of “Tolkien scholars, linguists, and lore masters” were welcomed into the writers’ room to ensure anyone or anything new being added into the scripts would coincide with the books. Sticking to the original world that Tolkien created was key to the production process.
There are characters with disabilities.
After casting a deaf performer, showrunners worked to create in-costume technology for both the actor and his character. They revealed plans to become even more inclusive and feature more characters with disabilities throughout the series.
‘Lord of the Rings’ film star Dominic Monaghan has some advice for the new cast.
The actor, known for playing Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck, told Salon: “I just say: Just have fun, just enjoy it. This might be the longest, most enjoyable, most fun job that you’ve ever done.”
Billy Boyd has some advice too.
Boyd, who played Peregrin “Pippin” Took, added some advice that Peter Jackson originally shared with him while filming the movie trilogy. “Think of it as a history. So, everything that you are doing happened, and the people felt it and they were emotional,” he told Salon. “And don’t play it like it’s a fantasy and there’s elves—it’s real. And people were hurt. And people were angry and sad. And play those things real.”
More ‘Lord of the Rings’ projects are coming.
Behind-the-scenes content is also being filmed.
In addition to shooting the series, Amazon plans to release behind-the-scenes featurettes. The company will also provide New Zealand with six 60-90 second videos to use for promoting tourism, and credit the country in the opening credits as the shooting location.
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