Get ready to meet a fresh cast of new and familiar characters with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The series is set thousands of years before J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy novels during Middle-earth’s Second Age, exploring such major events as the forging of the Rings of Power, the rise of Dark Lord Sauron and the fall of the island kingdom of Númenor.
The series features an ensemble roster of stars, some of whom include Benjamin Walker, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Trystan Gavelle, Morfydd Clark, Maxim Baldry, Lloyd Owen, Owain Arthur, Sophia Nomvete and Lenny Henry.
In anticipation of the show’s premiere, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with stars Cynthia Addai-Robinson and Trystan Gavelle to break down their previously unrevealed The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power characters and entering Tolkien’s epic world.
Screen Rant: I’m very excited to get to talk about Rings of Power, even though I have not been able to see any of it just yet. Given that Tolkien’s world has such an expansive scope, were either of you fans of his works prior to coming on to the series?
Trystan Gavelle: Yes, I was, yes. My introduction to Tolkien was in 2001, The Fellowship of the Ring film with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Saw that then I read The Hobbit book then I saw all three films by the end of it when they came out, read the books, Lord of the Rings, and then saw The Hobbit film. So yes, I approached this as a fan.
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: I had seen the films and I wasn’t as familiar with Tolkien’s lore in general. But what’s so interesting, and what is such a great opportunity, is when you get to be part of something like this, you just immerse yourself. You do the deep dive, suddenly you want to just read all the things and devour the information and it’s a sort of a perk of the job, because you’re basically getting the opportunity to just fully geek out and nerd out and spend your time reading and pondering over all these ideas and world. So for me, I’m sort of late to the party, but at the party, new fan of Tolkien and all his work.
There’s never a bad time to join the Tolkien party. As far as I can tell, we’ve not really learned much about either of your characters and what we can expect from them. Can you give me any kind of teases of what we can expect from both of you on the show?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: Today we can, so we’re happy to be able to tell you some information. I am playing Queen Míriel, she is the queen regent of the island kingdom of Númenor. As queen regent, that essentially means she is not fully yet the queen, so there’s a little bit of a crumb there. In season 1, we will sort of come to understand what exactly that signifies and how that plays out. She is a leader who is thoughtful, a leader who has a moral compass and moral center, wants to maintain the relative peace and stability of Númenor. But also is aware of the murmurings and the rumblings in the streets. You essentially have a segment of society that wants to preserve tradition and hold on to tradition and not lose that, and then you have a segment of society that wants to leave that all behind, progress, move forward, modernize, innovate. So you’re seeing Númenrórean society grapple with those ideas and you’re also seeing these characters navigate that with all the awareness of how their choices affect their people.
Trystan Gavelle: My character is Pharazôn, I play Pharazôn, and Pharazôn — how many times can I say Pharazôn? [Laughs] He is the cousin of Queen Míriel and her consult, her right-hand man, and it’s his job to make sure that the relationship between the Regency and the people of Númenor run smoothly. So he’s a man that is about social cohesion and tying the island kingdom of Númenor together. He sees himself as an innovator and modernist.
Cynthia was just talking about you have the traditionalists; Pharazôn is all for modernism, he wants to trailblaze and celebrate Númenor as a true kingdom of men rather than hark back to the days of our Elvish roots and everything, he’s not for that at all. He sees it as backward looking and he’s a forward-moving man, he’s very resourceful, he’s all about creating legacy because being a man, he’s mortal and, like all men in Middle-earth, they’re burdened by their mortality. Salt is rubbed in the wound when you see elves who can live forever, so with that, legacy is important for him as well, he’s a man with a lot on his mind.
With your characters being so close to one another, what was it like for each of you developing a rapport with one each other off-camera?
Trystan Gavelle: It was very, very easy because Cynthia is just the loveliest person as well as being an incredible actress.
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: Stop. [Laughs]
Trystan Gavelle: I will not, I’m telling you. [Chuckles] On my first day, my first day of filming was with Cynthia and it was just wonderful. Stepping on the set was like every Christmas and birthday rolled into one. It was amazing
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: That set in particular was pretty jaw dropping,
Trystan Gavelle: It really was. And what helped as well is that she was so incredible. Her Grace, the way she conducted herself and the way she made me feel at home on my first day on set was absolutely fantastic.
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: Likewise and mutual appreciation, respect. We’re lucky because within our world, I think what everybody brings to the table is just that sense of integrity and professionalism and the deep research that everyone does. So even when I hear my castmates, especially within our world, talk about our world, I’m listening and hanging on to their words because it’s like, “Wow!” It’s interesting, because I think back to our casting, because obviously in the era of COVID, you have a lot of virtual casting that has to happen, so our final audition was a chemistry read, but it was a chemistry read virtually.
We were in different countries and different time zones; we spoke to each other on WhatsApp before and had to do this very awkward staring into a lens and hoping to have chemistry come through whatever airwaves and just sort of hoping, “Man, I hope we both get this, because this just feels so right.” [Laughs] It’s, of course, a pleasure to work together and and have the journey, both as actors and as characters, we’re sort of having this dual experience of what it is to work on this, but also see where our characters go and be really present in the moment in the scenes and really live the lives of these characters.
Trystan Gavelle: I think, as well, having such an unorthodox way of the audition process, you have a special relationship with somebody when that comes across over bad internet on a Zoom meeting and everything and you go, “All right, this is a good connection we have here, this is great.”
That’s amazing. I’m glad you got that. Since you do mention dual experiences, you both have prior history with historical, fantasy type genre projects in the small screen world. What was that like for each of you coming onto these sets in comparison to your pasts, especially Trystan, since you are also a fan of Jackson’s films?
Trystan Gavelle: It was like you see in the music videos when they just jump into the television or get sucked into a book or something or a video game. It was like that, it was incredible. It was unlike anything I’ve ever done before. That’s not doing anything else down, everything that I’ve done has been, I feel, a terrific experience and fantastic projects. This was, just the scale of it, so epic, it was jaw dropping. So I’m very, very blessed to be a part of this.
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: Yeah, it’s true, nothing compares. Other things that you work on are a nice lead-up, in a way, you’re acquiring skills and having experiences that you don’t realize are going to prepare you for the next thing and the next thing. So for me, I had the lovely experience of working in New Zealand and having it be a homecoming of sorts, because it was almost a decade ago now that I did Spartacus in New Zealand, which is crazy to think it was that long ago. But when I landed in New Zealand, and I started to embark on this journey, there were a lot of crew that I had worked with way back when, so I saw all these familiar faces amongst the crew, people I’d worked very close with.
When I worked in New Zealand the first time I thought, “Wow, that was amazing. I am sad to leave and probably will never get the chance to do anything like this again.” So coming back to New Zealand, working with people that I’d worked with closely before, but embarking on something completely new, it feels like it’s the right project, the right story, at the right time for me. I just feel very lucky to be part of it.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Synopsis
Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.
Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres on Prime Video on September 2.
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