While Prime Video's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series has unfortunately fallen victim to racist comments and “review bombing” by trolls, resulting in user reviews being halted by Amazon, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the cast of the show, particularly the women, have embodied characters deserving of significant celebration.
Nazanin Boniadi, who plays Bronwyn in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, has stated that the “tenacious, brave and resilient” women of Iran inspired her character.
“I tend to gravitate towards roles that make me feel like we're taking a step forward and empowering women, not only in this industry but beyond, and I love characters that are multifaceted, layered, complex, because that's what women are, all people are,” Boniadi said. “I love Bronwyn for that reason because she's not only in a forbidden romance with an elf and she's not only the mother of a rebellious teenage son, and a healer, but she's also devoted to her people and liberating [them] from the shackles of their past.”
“That resonates with me as an activist and there's a lot of my experience, in my activism, that I've drawn from, and hopefully it'll inspire people to feel the same about speaking up and standing in your own truth.”
Opening the door to a 'revolutionary moment'
Moving from Bronwyn’s complexity, Sophia Nomvete as Princess Disa is a force on the screen. When we first see this woman dwarf in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, there’s an excitement and a joyful energy that exudes from the character. While she is largely alongside her husband Prince Durin (Owain Arthur) at the outset, Disa still has agency over who she is and what she does from her position of leadership.
“We wanted to make this moment count because it is a huge moment for fans of [J.R.R. Tolkien] and Lord of the Rings, but also new fans that we hope to bring in, to be able to see this character and the possibilities for her,” Nomvete said. “There is a warmth to her and a gentleness, and softness to her, that works really well against Prince Durin.”
“But she is strong and she is badass, and she can crack a joke, and she is loyal to her people and she's also in a position of power. It was really, really important, I think, for the show and for the world, actually, that if we were opening this door to this revolutionary moment, that we make sure that she stands in equal stead to her husband,...and they have absolutely delivered on that. She is a formidable character that we're seeing for the first time that I am hugely proud and excited to host.”
Speaking of positions of power, that is also realized in Cynthia Addai-Robinson’s character Queen Regent Míriel, an heir of Númenor.
“One of the things I thought a lot about was just the idea of the burden of leadership and what it is to be your sort of public presenting self, versus your private self,” Addai-Robinso revealed. “Behind closed doors,...[you] have the weight of the world on your shoulders and feel like there isn't really anyone you can confide in.”
“I thought a lot about real world leaders and we often put them on a pedestal, but they're people, they're human, they have human worries, and the good leaders genuinely feel a sense of duty, and a sense of wanting to just do the best job that they can. So it was a very rich material to get to explore.”
'It was all about creating the characters histories'
Hobbits have been a highlight for fans of The Lord of the Rings, especially for fans of Peter Jackson’s movies, and in The Rings of Power their Harfoot ancestors feature inquisitive and compassionate women.
The character that stands out is Markella Kavenagh's Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot who is particularly curious about learning more about the world beyond her community.
“Constructing Nori, I had so much help from the showrunners and the crew, from costume, to movement, to dialect, it really was a team of people that were helping bring her to life, so I just then wanted to focus on making sure that her curiosity and her love for adventure was really rooted in also trying to...help find the Harfoots a home” Kavenagh said. “She believes that they can do that through risk taking, but sometimes it gets her into a bit of trouble, so it was just finding that balance.”
Every adventurer needs a companion and Nori finds that in Poppy, played by Megan Richards. She may not be as ambitious as Nori, but this dynamic duo displays the essential narrative lesson of the importance of friendship.
“It was incredible to be able to…hang out with Markella and call it work,” Richards said. “We're the same age, we have similar life experiences, so it was really nice to immediately find a pal.”
“It was all about creating the characters histories and the relationship that they have with each other. So we did quite a lot of improvisations, just playing around on the floor… Then slowly, they would introduce scripts and…premises for scenes that they hadn't fully fleshed out yet and wanted voices for, which is also really exciting. We were doing a lot of developing, and it was really nice to really build the characters from the ground up and to feel Poppy in my bones, and also to feel Nori as well.”
Of course, we can't discuss The Rings of Power without mentioning the woman who leads up through much of the story, Morfydd Clark, who presents and incredibly captivating and resilient portrayal of Galadriel, a younger version of the character we saw played by Cate Blanchett in The Lord of the Rings films.
"There was a lot of discussion about, what does it mean to have an element of youth as someone who's been around for millennia," Clark said. "Galadriel at some points speaks about, with wisdom there's a loss of innocence."
"I found that really useful because she's going to lose some innocence and she's going to gain some wisdom, and she's also had to remember that she doesn't know where she's going to end up."