The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Stars Offer Insight into Their Characters Ahead of Season 1's Epic Finale

Series cast members Charles Edwards, Nazanin Boniadi, Sara Zwangobani, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, and Daniel Weyman reflect on where they've been and tease what's to come in the prequel series.

by | October 13, 2022 | Comments

TAGGED AS: , , , , ,

Ahead of the season 1 finale of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, the series brought its stars to New York Comic Con to celebrate the journey so far and promote where things are going. Though Prime Video dropped a new trailer for final episode, questions linger about how the episode will tie things together. And there’s lots to mull over, from the fiery debut of Mordor in episode 7, “The Eye,” to the tease of Sauron’s highly-anticipated entrance into the series as seen in the new video.

While we mulled over those developments, members of the cast – Charles Edwards (Celebrimbor), Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn), Sara Zwangobani (Marigold Brandyfoot), Leon Wadham (Kemen), Benjamin Walker (Elven High King Gil-galad), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Queen Regent Míriel), and Daniel Weyman (The Stranger) – met with Rotten Tomatoes  during press roundtables last week to preview the finale.

(Photo by Amazon Studios)

It was revealed earlier in the day that Prime Video officially greenlit The Rings of Power for a second season and the production is moving from New Zealand to London for the episodes, although some filming will take place in New Zealand.

“I think our understanding is correct through the origination of the original location for [Peter] Jackson’s movies,” Edwards said. “But Tolkien, of course, wrote in England. So one could argue it’s taking it back to pre-Jackson times. Whatever the reasons were for the move, we’re not trying to do that. But we’ve got a wonderful base set up in England, and we’re looking forward to getting going.”

Given the fact that Rings of Power is an adaptation of material that was never fully completed and referenced in a timeline of events in The Lord of the Rings appendices, with some non-canonical characters featured throughout, the cast shed light on the collaborative process in bringing these people to life.

(Photo by Ben Rothstein/Prime Video)

“Right before I took on the role and moved to New Zealand,” Boniadi said, “I point blank asked them, I said, ‘Does she have agency?’ Because I don’t want her to just serve a male storyline. I don’t want her to be there as a device for the men around her. Does she have her own drive? Her own ambitions? Her own sorts of reasons to be? And they assured me that she did.”

With that detail as a baseline for Bronwyn, the de-facto leader of a Southland village, Boniadi tipped her hat to the “walking encyclopedias” that are showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. And with their knowledge as her guide, she channeled some big-screen influences that came before her.

“I brought elements of great female warriors,” she continued. “Like Michelle Yeoh, Sigourney Weaver — I love the reference of Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain. So there are things that you can play with, but then still anchored everything.”

(Photo by Ben Rothstein/Prime Video)

Walker used the unsettling notion of being a warrior during peacetime, and the heaviness of a leader’s responsibility, to tap into playing Gil-galad.

“Gil-galad, in a time of peace is very uncomfortable,” he added. “Because of the amount of experience that he has, he, when everyone’s at a party, is laying in bed staring at the ceiling. He’s in a constant state of, What’s around the corner? And I like that about him. It’s fueled by his love of Middle-earth. These are the Elves that chose to stay on this disgusting, dangerous rock with a bunch of creatures that’ll try to kill each other. And we’re going to try and help them. I think there’s something noble to that.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power - 106

(Photo by Prime Video)

While High King Gil-galad and Queen Regent Míriel have yet to appear on screen together, Addai-Robinson found a common leadership thread connecting their characters and how they are perceived by other: “I was always fascinated with the idea that when you’re by yourself, versus even for the job that we’re in [as actors], people have an expectation of us, and we have to sort of present a different version of ourselves when we’re with family or just by ourselves. So I always found that to be really interesting.”

It’s not surprise that these actors hold deep connections to their roles given all the personal creative work they undertook to enrich these characters and make them their own, and it’s a sentiment Addai-Robinson shared of playing Miriel.

“I am at this stage protective with Miriel, because she’s become very important to me,” she said. “I felt a lot of safety in being in her skin. And I want to maintain the integrity of who I believe she is. So, I think playing Miriel is going to mark a very important pivotal chapter just in my own life, and sort of where we are at in the world. And when I talk to people, [the show] means so much to them. It has defined their childhood or adolescence or adulthood. And now it gets to be that for me, so it’s something that has really become very precious and important.”

(Photo by Ben Rothstein/Prime Video)

Drawing from scratch, however, is Wadham (pictured above right with costar Trystan Gravelle as Pharazôn), whose character Kemen was created specifically for the series. Acknowledging the grandiose opportunity and responsibility to develop a new character in a way that could appropriately fit into Tolkien’s wider story world, Wadham admitted his first priority was to do the research.

“I started with the facts about Númenór and the facts about Pharazôn that existed,” he revealed. “Those were clear footholds.” From there, he drew upon his own background growing up in Wellington, New Zealand around, as he put it, “ambitious politicos” to bring life to the role.

“I was around a lot of young politicos growing up,” Wadham added. “People who were ambitious, who were involved in New Zealand’s political parties, who wanted to find their own way up that ladder, and had a lot of passion, and not a lot of experience, necessarily. And I thought that that was something fun to do. I thought about The Godfather. I thought about Succession. I thought about my friends, my annoying brother, who was so cocky. And I would just sort of try those flavors out.”

For Tolkien fans in the know, Kemen’s father Pharazôn ends up doing some very bad things once Sauron establishes a wider influence in the world. We had to wonder if it was possible that Kemen will follow in his dad’s footsteps and go full villain.

“That’s what’s exciting to me about the character,” he teased. “Everything is in place for him to become an absolute monster. There’s still a chance that he could be redeemed. His connection to [Lloyd Owen’s] Elendil and his family means that he could be tipped in either direction.

“He’s got this deep desire for his father’s respect. But if he gets it, he’s doomed. So the best thing for him, for everyone really, would be for that relationship to kind of be severed. But all he wants is for him to take him in, properly.”

Daniel Weyman (The Stranger) in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

(Photo by Ben Rothstein/Prime Video)

Creating characters from scratch is one thing, but according to Weyman, who plays the mysterious giant known simply as the Stranger, doing so without the ability to convey anything through spoken word is a whole other challenge unto itself.

“They started at nothing,” he revealed. “When I was starting to approach it, I was happy enough to accept that because then I could get close to a totally clean slate. And once I have a clean slate, irrespective of where they want it to go to, I have the building block. And then the next scene was a layer, and then the next. They’ve been pretty good at filming chronologically. Generally, I feel I’m building and using sense memory, because of the physicality. And so actually, that guards against sort of overplaying stuff from whatever future they’re going to run it to.”

As for the Stranger, the theories surrounding the mysterious giant continue to spread. Tapping into his character’s silence, Weyman remained tight-lipped about his true identity. Although, he admitted to enjoying all the different fan theories online.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “And they’re all so eloquent about why they’re coming up with theories.”

(Photo by Ben Rothstein/Prime Video)

Obviously, when a man of few understandable words and great power falls from the sky, a big sense of hesitancy and distrust can come with allowing this being into your community. It’s a challenge Zwangobani’s Marigold has wrestled with throughout the season. And it wasn’t until episode 7 that we saw her finally accept the Stranger as a force for good, instead of evil.

“I think the germ of that actually started when the Stranger helped with the cart,” she said. “Marigold kind of went, Oh, we’ll give this a go and see what happens. And then they went on their migration, which is one of my favorite bits in the show. You could see the Stranger becoming part of their family. He literally became this sort of second surrogate child after [Megan Richard’s] Poppy.”

A running through-line with each cast member we spoke with was the immense gratitude they feel about playing a part on such a landmark project. And considering the interpretation is built upon a variety of cultures and races this time around, Zwangobani described her involvement as “an incredible honor and a privilege.”

“When I was a kid, there was like a soliloquy, but not much in the way of diversity in the fantasy genre,” she added. “And so, now, to be able to play Marigold Brandyfoot, and have this diverse world, and know that there are kids out there who now have something that they can latch onto and see themselves, is just incredible. But also it brings another flavor to the Tolkien universe that I think is really important because, part of these themes were about different races trying to get along and different realms trying to work together. And I think that adding more diversity in the mix can only add to that theme.”