The executive producers and writers behind the Prime Video series The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power want Tolkien fans to know that their series (which drops on the streamer September 2) is going to give even the most read and dedicated Peter Jackson movie fans something new to see and enjoy. During today’s Television Critics Association Prime Video virtual panel for the series, executive producers JD Payne, Patrick McKay and Lindsey Weber told reporters (including SYFY WIRE) that outside of a few familiar characters like Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Elrond (Robert Aramayo), there are a host of new characters and storylines that will eventually surprise even the most jaded Middle-earth stan. “It will be the first time people can watch a Middle-earth story without knowing what happens next,” Webber said. “So I hope it’s a lot of fun.”
As for how they crafted this bespoke Tolkien-based series, showrunner Payne said, “It’s based on the appendices that come at the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and then also, poems and songs and stories and rumors and half-whispered stories that get scattered throughout the text. Tolkien is kind of a scavenger hunt where there are places where he’ll give little summaries and you’ll get pieces, but often it’s a whispered thing someone will say and a little nugget there, and a little nugget there .”
Payne said their job in the writers room is to “excavate” all of this material and make connections to the story. “Part of Tolkien’s appeal is that he created a world that always bleeds past the pages, where he hints at something, but doesn’t give you everything. And that’s part of what makes him makes you so intriguing and always makes you want to lean in and find out more.Our job is to take you back to a time set many thousands of years before the stories you know, before Frodo, before the ring and Sauron. back to when the Rings of Power were forged, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, Tolkien’s story of Númenor which is sort of his Atlantis, and finally The Last Alliance of Elves and Men. were tempted by small details and we take them and really try to take the little hints that Tolkien gave us and weave them into whole storylines or characters.
Co-presenter McKay added that it was a “privilege and a joy” to put the puzzle of new story pieces together into a series worth watching. “We felt from the start as producers, all of us, that we weren’t interested in a show that was a nostalgia piece or a retread, or a reboot or a sequel in a lot of traditional ways that we felt we we were getting as viewers. We felt the show needed to earn its place on the stage and stand on its own two feet and hopefully rise or fall on its own merits. In that regard, stories are stories different from the ones you’ve seen before on screen from Tolkien. But his themes and his ideas that he wrote about are throughout the series. His language is throughout the series, its world and its characters. But the audience will have a new experience than what they had before. There will be twists and surprises along the way. Sometimes it will be intense. Sometimes it will be hopefully very funny and heartwarming. But this n It won’t be as expected. We have strived to do it again and again. .”
Payne also reiterated that despite The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power storylines featuring recognizable themes of classism, racism, and political hubris, the series was constructed to deliberately not lean into all that is happening in real human current events. “Tolkien was very vocal in his writing about the allegory show. He didn’t want to do something where you could be looking at an obviously political figure, or this place represents this country. It makes the work a little bit smaller, because ‘once you’ I drew the parallel, that’s kind of all there is to it. Tolkien wanted to do things that would be timeless and would be for all ages, so we looked to do the same thing.
He continued, “We actually worked overtime if there were any stories that sounded like something that has been was going on and we were trying to give them a bit more complexity so you can’t say “Oh, well, clearly these people represent this branch of anything, or these people represent it. We’d mix it up a bit so you couldn’t easily draw those kinds of parallels and the story would probably be something that could speak to the concerns of the challenges and stresses and difficulties of that time, because there were so many of them. From the time we started working on the show until the end of filming for Season 1, there was a global pandemic, there were various economic, political and social upheavals. And so we felt more than ever that the world needed that unique and special kind of hope that Tolkien can provide. If there was anything timely, it was the urgency and the need for what Middle-earth gives to people, to be able to come and bring it to our world right now.”
McKay added that “applicable” is a word Tolkien often uses in reference to his text. “He wanted to create a myth that was applicable to people wherever and whenever they were. We all aspired to create the show the same way. The dream would be that in 20 years the show would be just as applicable as it is now and doesn’t feel dated. We certainly yearn for that special, timeless thing that Tolkien seems to be able to do effortlessly. But that’s where our efforts all ended up.
The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power debuts September 2 on Prime Video.
Looking for some fantastic content to tide you over? Click here for our list of the best fantasy movies available on Peacock.