The last time we checked in on Amazon Prime's upcoming (and massive) The Lord of the Rings prequel series, series writer Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) was reminding us that no one had any intention of discussing the series outside of official press announcements. Thankfully, series star Morfydd Clark thought different during her interview with NME to promote her film Saint Maud.
With the series being one of many impacted by the COVID pandemic, Clark has been in New Zealand since she began filming back in February. Being away from her friends and family, Clark has formed an on-set "family" with the series' team. "It's definitely strange going into lockdown with people that you have just started working with, but I think we all treat each other like family. Sure, you'll occasionally get annoyed by people, but you still like them… because you don't have a choice. I think this time I've spent with the cast will be useful on set," Clark explained. That said, like many actors she's concerned that what viewers end up seeing could look a little too pre-COVID/post-COVID obvious: "But I obviously worry that the audience will be able to see in our eyes that certain sections were filmed pre-lockdown and some afterwards."
That doesn't mean Clark isn't getting long-distance love and support from friends and family- especially when it comes to Young Galadriel getting a little fun ribbing every now and then. "My friends love [The Lord Of The Rings]. Whenever they came back home to Cardiff from university and I came back from drama school, we'd hibernate in one house and watch all three films back-to-back, Clark revealed. "But, when I told them I'd been hired for the series, they were like: 'Oh, really? We'd been so looking forward to that but now it is just going to be you in it we won't be able to enjoy it as much.' That was very sobering to hear!"
As for film franchise stars like Elijah Wood saying they would be interested in making a guest appearance, Clark's in favor of having everyone from the films cameo and offer the series their support. "Those films are so iconic for me. I've actually been suppressing what I know about the Tolkien universe since I came out here," she explained. "I honestly just love the idea that Elijah Wood has said that because I am such a fan. I'd love everyone to do a cameo in it. It's so nice to hear support for the series from someone like that."
But when it comes to choosing between a smaller project like Saint Maud or an epic production like The Lord of the Rings, Clark has her preference. "In many ways, I'm at my happiest and most fulfilled doing more intimate projects like Saint Maud. I feel like I've got my fix of the massive stuff by doing Lord of the Rings. The amount of [people working] on this show is continually mind-blowing. One guy's job consists just of seeing how dust reacts to footsteps and breath! That would never have even crossed my mind before. Other than something like Marvel, I don't think things could get much bigger than this."
Writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay are developing the series and serving as showrunner, with Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones) serving as a consultant. Juan Antonio (J.A.) Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) is set to direct the first two episodes. Amazon Studios produces, in conjunction with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema. The prequel series stars Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Daniel Weyman, and Maxim Baldry.
The new stories will take place prior to J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Fellowship of the Ring" and look to focus on the "Second Age" – a time when the Rings of Power were first revealed. "J.R.R. Tolkien created one of the most extraordinary and inspiring stories of all time, and as a lifelong fan it is an honor and a joy to join this amazing team. I can't wait to take audiences around the world to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never-before-seen story," explained Bayona at the time the news was announced.
In the video below, LotR fans learned the creative team's killer line-up of talent – including Amazon's ex-genre head Sharon Tal Yguado as well as Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire), Tal Yguado, writer/executive producer Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad); writer/executive producer Jason Cahill (The Sopranos), writer/executive producer Justin Doble (Stranger Things), consulting producer Stephany Folsom, producer Ron Ames, writer and co-producer Helen Shang, and writing consultant Glenise Mullins. Bayona will executive produce alongside partner Belén Atienza.
"We are thrilled to have J.A. and Belén joining the fellowship as we continue to develop this epic series. We have been great admirers of J.A.'s work for years, and know that his epic, cinematic and deeply heartfelt aesthetic is the perfect sensibility to bring Middle-earth to life anew," said Payne & McKay when the hirings were officially announced.