Amazon’s "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is one of the most eagerly anticipated shows of recent times. Possibly the most expensive television series ever made, it takes place thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, which means that it boasts an entirely new cast of characters and actors; those involved in Peter Jackson’s celebrated "The Lord Of the Rings" film trilogy are not involved in this new adaptation.
That doesn’t mean, however, that those who were previously part of the fantasy world of Middle-earth have had nothing to say about the new series. Actors who played a part in Jackson’s blockbuster live-action movies have obviously been asked about the project while taking part in interviews or speaking at events, as the franchise has been such a big part of their lives.
There have been a variety of interesting responses, and encouragingly, almost all of them are positive. Many of the previous cast have been hopeful and excited about "The Rings of Power," while a few have been more cautious. Here’s everything they’ve had to say so far.
Sean Astin is excited to finally see the series
Sean Astin was the man responsible for portraying Samwise Gamgee in Peter Jackson’s "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, playing the character throughout all three films as he accompanied Frodo to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring. Since leaving Middle-earth, he’s appeared in Netflix’s "Stranger Things" as Bob Newby and played Ed in "No Good Nick," along with appearances in the likes of "24" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Speaking at the Calgary Expo 2022, the actor explained how excited he is to actually get to experience "The Rings of Power" as a fan, especially after seeing an early preview of the series.
"I for one am excited," he said (via IGN). "I saw the preview for it, and it gave me chills. It looked like they got it. I’ve been saying the whole time, they’re gonna do it right. There’s no way Amazon is gonna pay almost a billion dollars for a franchise just to screw it up."
As well as having high hopes for the new show, Astin believes it has a chance of introducing a lot of new fans to the franchise and J.R.R. Tolkien’s original work. "For an entire, at least one or two generations, it’ll be brand new," he pointed out. "They’ll end up discovering our version of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ as a consequence of seeing what will be new to them."
Elijah Wood is up for a cameo
Elijah Wood was essentially the face of Peter Jackson’s "The Lord of the Rings" — he was, after all, the actor playing Hobbit Frodo Baggins. Tasked with carrying the One Ring and ultimately destroying it, it was Frodo’s actions that would decide the fate of Middle-earth and determine whether Sauron would succeed in his scheme to destroy the realms of men, elves, and dwarves. Wood would go on to reprise his role briefly for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," making "The Rings of Power" the only onscreen iteration of the series over the last two decades that he hasn’t been involved in.
The actor hasn’t really had any complaints about the show, but he did have one minor issue with the name Amazon has chosen for the series. Speaking with Empire Magazine (via Fandom), Wood explained that he thought it was confusing to call it "The Lord of the Rings" because of when the story takes place. "I find it very bizarre that they’re calling it ‘Lord of the Rings’ as a shorthand because it’s not ‘Lord of the Rings,’" he said. "It takes place in the Second Age of Middle-earth."
In 2020, Wood made a similar remark when discussing the series as it was in development, explaining, "From what I understand, the material they are working on exists chronologically further back in history in the lore of ‘Lord of the Rings’ or Middle-earth than any characters represented in ‘Lord of the Rings.’" However, that didn’t stop him from being excited about the show or being against appearing in some way. "If there was a world where that made sense and was organic to what they’re doing, then yes," he told IndieWire. "Look, any excuse to get to go to New Zealand to work on something, I am absolutely there."
Andy Serkis believes there isn’t a definitive adaptation
Although his face might not be familiar to some fans of "Lord of the Rings," Andy Serkis had one of the most important parts in Peter Jackson’s trilogy as Gollum. The actor even played a significant role in developing the character, contributing motion capture for the groundbreaking CGI-enabled antagonist. Serkis has since put his talents to further use, donning the motion capture suit for the likes of "Star Wars," "Planet of the Apes," and "King Kong." He even returned to the world of "The Lord of the Rings" to narrate new audiobooks of the original novels (via NME).
Serkis is pretty relaxed when it comes to other adaptations of the franchise, understanding that it’s a timeliness story that will likely be remade over and over again due to the popularity of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original books. "You become the custodian of the role for a bit … you’re part of a journey and I happen to have had some very pleasant years in Middle-earth in two big trilogies with that character," he told Gaming Bible. "It’s a story that will go on being retold and retold, and there’s never a definitive version."
Meanwhile, he has also spoken about his excitement for the project as it explores a part of the fantasy world that hasn’t really been depicted onscreen before. "I mean, I’m very excited to see the Amazon series, for sure," he told Radio Times. "Because I know that they’re talking about a completely different age of Middle-earth. So I know it’s gonna be pretty amazing."
Viggo Mortensen thinks it will be fun to watch
Fans of "The Lord of the Rings" will know Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, the Gondorian king who joins the Fellowship of the Ring and later fights against Saruman’s forces in Rohan and defends Gondor from an attack by Sauron. The role launched him to mainstream popularity, but he wasn’t initially the first choice. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, actor Stuart Townsend revealed that he had trained for months after being cast but was fired a day before filming started. Mortensen was quickly flown in to replace him, an experience that he told the Irish Times was awkward.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Mortensen spoke about how "The Lord of the Rings" impacted his life and gave him the opportunity to make a lot of friends he’s still in contact with. When discussing the new series and finding out it’s being made by Amazon, he replied, "Oh, right. Yeah, I’ll watch that." During the same interview, he asked when it would be set and what material they would be using for the story. After being told it was set thousands of years before the trilogy, he replied, "Oh, that’s cool. Yeah, It’ll be fun to see."
Orlando Blood is interested in seeing how Amazon does things
Orlando Bloom made his acting breakthrough after being cast in "The Lord of the Rings." He appeared in all three of Peter Jackson’s movies as Legolas, a wood elf who joins the Fellowship of the Ring and becomes a strong ally of both Aragorn and Gimli on their journey across Middle-earth. After the trilogy launched him to fame, he became an in-demand star and was cast in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" and would appear in two sequels along with roles in "The Three Musketeers," "Black Hawk Down," and "Kingdom of Heaven." Returning to J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy world, he reprised his role as Legolas in the "Hobbit" film series.
Speaking in a video chat with Collider, Bloom explained how he was happy that Amazon wasn’t just re-adapting the "Lord of the Rings" books all over again. He explained that he had spoken to a producer on the show and was quickly reassured that they had a very different take on the franchise. "It’s not, obviously, it’s not a remake. It’s actually not based on ‘The Fellowship’ or any of that. So I think it could be really, really interesting from that perspective," Bloom added. "’The Lord Of The Rings’ is a title for a world. But I think it’s going to be interesting from that perspective."
Billy Boyd wants to see a different approach to Middle-earth
The role of Peregrin "Pippin" Took was played by Scottish actor Billy Boyd in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy. As one of the four hobbit protagonists, he joined the Fellowship of the Ring and eventually found his way to Gondor with Gandalf. The actor formed a strong bond with his co-stars and has since started a podcast called "The Friendship Onion" with his "Lord of the Rings" co-star Dominic Monaghan. An experienced musician who has a band called Beecake, he returned to the franchise to perform the song "The Last Goodbye" for " The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies."
In an interview with Salon, Boyd talked about how he was looking forward to watching "The Rings of Power" as a fan rather than someone who was directly involved in its creation. "I’m excited to watch Middle-earth and not be watching it going, "Oh, I remember that day. I had the sore leg," and that kind of thing," he explained. "To be able to just sit and watch a Middle-earth story."
Later in the same article, the actor went on to discuss the way it will be exciting to see how the television series tackles different material and has a new approach to Middle-earth. "Well, and exciting to see what they do, because obviously we were lucky enough that we had the three books of Tolkien," he pointed out. "Tolkien devoted his life to those books, not in a small way. He created languages. He drew the maps before he wrote any story. And then he created this incredible, incredible universe and story and characters that we were lucky enough to play."
Dominic Monaghan wishes the show and cast well
Dominic Monaghan played Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck in "The Lord of the Rings," another hobbit who joins the Fellowship of the Ring along with Frodo, Sam, and Pippin. He travels with the group until Boromir is killed by the Uruk-hai and eventually ends up in Rohan, where he joins with Éowyn and fights with her at Gondor. He developed a particularly close friendship with his co-stars and started "The Friendship Onion" with Billy Boyd; the pair have welcomed guest appearances from Elijah Wood and Sean Astin. Along with the rest of the Fellowship, he got a matching tattoo to commemorate his time filming the trilogy.
Speaking to Screen Rant, Monaghan explained how he hoped the actors would enjoy the experience and not feel too much pressure from being part of such an important franchise. "I wish it a lot of luck. I hope that it goes well, and especially for the actors — because I’m inclined to actors," he said. "I hope they’re having fun. I hope they don’t feel the pressure of expectation or from what had occurred with the Peter Jackson trilogy." The actor also offered advice, telling the cast to embrace the experience and not take it for granted as the filming could well go by much quicker than they initially realize.
John Noble thinks the show should be its own entity
Australian actor John Noble is probably best known for his role as Denethor in Peter Jackson’s "The Lord of the Rings" film trilogy, although he has had other widely seen roles in the likes of "Fringe" and "Elementary" as well as playing Scarecrow in several DC adaptations. In the world of Middle-earth he was the Steward of Gondor, ruling in the absence of the King of Gondor. His sons, Faramir and Boromir, also play an important role in the story. Denethor eventually falls to despair when the forces of Mordor attack Gondor.
In a conversation on the Collider Podcast, Noble was asked about the television series and whether Denethor should appear in some capacity. His response was a definitive no, as he didn’t want to tarnish the memory of his experience in the trilogy or ruin his character. "If it’s anything that is going to blur that memory," he said. "You know you go through life and do certain things that are outstanding [and] I don’t want to do that again." However, he also feels like the people behind the television series will want to do their own thing and make it separate from what has come before.
Ian McKellen felt snubbed by the show
Although he was a successful theater actor for much of his career, in his later years Ian McKellen rose to prominence by playing a series of iconic characters in movies, including Magneto in the "X-Men" franchise and, of course, Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings." The actor enjoyed playing the aged wizard and reprised the role in the Peter Jackson-directed prequel trilogy "The Hobbit," which has led to McKellen becoming synonymous with the character he portrayed in six films across two decades.
The actor didn’t share a lot of thoughts about the Amazon series when asked about it, other than explaining that he hasn’t been asked to return to the role of Gandalf. It seems that he doesn’t want anyone else to play the character he’s become so attached to over the years. In a conversation on "The Graham Norton Show," the actor explained that he didn’t know if Gandalf would appear in the show but reacted when the host suggested someone else might portray him. "I haven’t said yes because I haven’t been asked," McKellen explained. "But are you suggesting that someone else is going to play it? Gandalf is over 7000 years old, so I’m not too old [yet]."
The producers behind "The Rings of Power" have not ruled out a possible return for McKellen, though, with Lindsey Weber telling Total Film (via Gamespot) that nothing is set in stone. "Who would say no to Ian McKellen? Nobody on the planet would say no to Ian McKellen," Weber said. Fans could still get to see McKellen’s familiar face if Gandalf were to appear in some form.
Hugo Weaving has no interest
Elrond is a respected and powerful figure in Middle-earth, and the job of portraying him in Peter Jackson’s trilogy went to Hugo Weaving. The actor had a significant role in the first movie and made brief appearances in the two sequels, as he is seen discussing his daughter’s future and bringing Aragorn’s reforged sword Andúril to him. Despite his success in several high-profile parts, Weaving has a habit of not returning to franchises years after his initial participation. His role in the MCU as Red Skull was recast for "Avengers: Endgame" after he refused to reprise the part from "Captain America: The First Avenger"; he also didn’t return to the "Matrix" franchise for "The Matrix Resurrections."
When asked by Variety about whether he would want to return to his role as Elrond in "The Rings of Power," the actor gave a rather curt answer. From his response, it appears Weaving had enough of the franchise the first time around. "’Matrix’ might have happened," he said. "But ‘Lord of the Rings,’ no, I would never — I’m not interested in that at all. Look, I loved being in New Zealand with all those great people, and it was like going back to a family but actually, to be honest, I think everyone had more than enough of it."
Lord of the Rings actors spoke out against racist criticism
The actors who played the hobbits in Peter Jackson’s "Lord of the Rings" trilogy are still friends all these years later and regularly meet up at events and reunions. One of their more recent appearances together showed the actors expressing their disgust at the racist backlash that "The Rings of Power" has suffered. In response to the diverse casting choices made by the producers, which includes actors such as Lenny Henry, some online users have expressed their opposition to non-white actors playing characters in the series. This even led Amazon to suspend user reviews for the series out of fears it would be review-bombed.
TV Insider reported on posts by Elijah Wood and Sean Astin that showed the actors wearing t-shirts and a cap emblazoned with the words "You Are All Welcome Here" with ears of various skin tones underneath. The clothing is also available to buy online, with 50 percent of all proceeds going to charities. Stars of "The Rings of Power," such as Ismael Cruz Córdova, expressed their gratitude for the support shown by Wood, Astin, Boyd, and Monaghan.