There is a lot of anticipation for Amazon’s incoming Lord of the Rings TV series. Touted as the most expensive television show ever, it’s not just another adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s seminal novel trilogy but a prequel which will take place 1000 years prior to Frodo Baggins’ journey across Middle Earth, including both fan-favorite characters – such as Galadriel, Elrond and Sauron – and more obscure ones pulled from Tolkein’s works.
Something else we can expect is for a greater diversity than Peter Jackson’s movies, which featured an overwhelmingly white cast. While speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live show to discuss his involvement in the series (via Bleeding Cool), British actor and comedian Sir Lenny Henry opened up about how he fits into the story, as well as promising that Amazon’s Hobbits will be “multi-cultural”. Here’s what Henry had to say:
“I’m a Harfoot, because JRR Tolkien, who was also from Birmingham, suddenly there were black hobbits, I’m a black hobbit, it’s brilliant, and what’s notable about this run of the books, its a prequel to the age that we’ve seen in the films, its about the early days of the Shire and Tolkien’s environment, so we’re an indigenous population of Harfoots, we’re hobbits but we’re called Harfoots, we’re multi-cultural, we’re a tribe not a race, so we’re black, asian and brown, even Maori types within it.”
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While it’s depressingly easy to imagine some people on the internet getting angry about this and accusing the show’s producers of making LOTR “woke”, it’s worth pointing out that Harfoots are an original Tolkein concept, with the author describing them as having browner skin than other Hobbits. They’re also noted as being the most common kind of Hobbit, so it adds up that they would have different ethnicities among them.
The Game of Thrones-sized cast includes Morfydd Clark as Galadriel, Joseph Mawle as main villain Oren, Robert Aramayo as Beldor and Markella Kavenagh as Tyra. Some of these are likely codenames. Tyra, for instance, is thought to be Tar-Telperien, Queen of Numenor during the Second Age of Middle Earth. Ismael Cruz Cordova, Emma Horvath, Nazanin Boniadi, Maxim Baldry, Cynthia Addai-Robinson and many more are also on board in undisclosed roles.
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings is set to premiere its eight-part first season in just under a year’s time on September 2, 2022.