What’s the source material?
The new series took influence from “The Silmarillion,” a collection of stories from Middle-earth and the wider fictional universe, written by Tolkien and edited by his son Christopher after Tolkien’s death. It’s likely meant to be presented as a fictional historical account written by several authors — possibly including one Bilbo Baggins — that covers everything from the origin of Tolkien’s world to its later ages.
But “The Silmarillion” is more of an inspiration than a sacred text the showrunners are faithfully following — several characters were invented for the series, and its creators have played with history a bit, spotlighting species that didn’t play a major role in Middle-earth history until its later ages, but more on that below.
Are there characters I know already?
There sure are! You remember Galadriel, the regal Elf embodied elegantly and frighteningly in the film trilogy by Cate Blanchett? She’s back in the prequel, this time played by Morfydd Clark, and by the looks we’ve gotten of her in the trailers, she’s just returned from battle when we catch up with her. She’ll probably head right back out to war, though, because Sauron is coming! We may or may not get to see the Lord of the Rings himself in his corporeal form — Amazon is keeping mum on how he’ll appear in the series, but he’ll undoubtedly loom large over it.
There’s also Elrond, the Lord of Rivendell, a stately Elven town in the Misty Mountains. Formerly played by Hugo Weaving, a slightly greener Elrond is portrayed here by Robert Aramayo. Of course, Elves are immortal in Tolkien’s world, and their participation in Second Age events was canonized in “The Silmarillion.”
But if you’re expecting Frodo, Sam and Aragorn to appear — they haven’t been born yet. (Even Arwen doesn’t make her Middle-earth debut until the Third Age.) Plus, can you imagine anyone but Elijah Wood, Sean Astin and Viggo Mortensen playing those beloved fellows?
Which creatures will I recognize?
Who rounds out this cast of characters?
Amazon’s cast list is exhaustive (but notably missing a few names, including that of the unknown actor thought to play Sauron). Many of these characters, save for some Elves and Dwarves, have been created for the series, like the Harfoot Brandyfoot sisters, a mother-son duo named Bronwyn and Theo, and Arondir, a Silvan Elf, a type of Elf that prefers forests and woods to waterfalls and grand castles.
And in a departure from previous Tolkien adaptations, many of Middle-earth’s inhabitants will be played by people of color, from Harfoots to Elves to human heroes. Nazanin Boniadi, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Ismael Cruz Cordova and Sophia Nomvete, among other actors, all play major characters whose actions impact the war against Sauron.
Oh yeah, is Peter Jackson involved?
The showrunners for “Rings of Power” are J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who double as executive producers. They’re not widely known to viewers — they’ve written several unproduced screenplays — and their first major work is also said to be one of the most expensive series ever made. So even without the massive, Orc-sized shoes Jackson’s films left them to fill, the stakes are unimaginably high!