The rings of power cast

INTERVIEW: ‘Rings of Power’ Cast Talked With Us About Tolkien, Singing on Set, and More at NYCC!

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has been such a fascinating and amazing look into the world that J.R.R. Tolkien built with his novels and getting to chat with the cast at New York Comic Con was a look into their own love of Tolkien’s work as well as their fun time on set making the first season of the Amazon Prime Video series.

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At the roundtables for press, we spoke with Charles Edwards, Leon Wadham, Nazanin Boniadi, Sara Zwangobani, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Benjamin Walker, and Daniel Weyman and they all shared their insight into this world, the reaction to it, and finally answered my question about singing on set. Because there have been plenty interviews about the amount of singing that happened with the cast and yet no one mention how good of a singer Ben Walker is? BROADWAY star Ben Walker?

But the cast was fun and honest about the reaction to the show, learning the ins and outs of how Tolkien used language in his stories, and yes, again, they talked about the singing.

Leon Wadham and Sara Zwangobani

To start, I spoke with Leon Wadham and Sara Zwangobani about the series and one of the things that fascinated me was how much the two loved this world before joining the franchise. “My mom is a huge fan of the books, we had them in the house as long as I can remember,” Wadham said when I asked about his previous connection to the franchise. “And I also grew up in Wellington so when I was in primary school, they were making the original trilogy. And when I was in drama school in Wellington, they were making The Hobbit movies so Middle Earth has been inescapable my whole life. It has been my obstinate, even if you can’t see it it’s there. I did not see myself being part of a Tolkien story but I’m thrilled to be part of one now.”

I asked the two later about their favorite fan reaction to this show given how (like many fandom based properties) toxic some responses can be and Zwangobani gave a beautiful response about the importance of seeing not only herself in this world but giving that to other fans (as a fan of Lord of the Rings herself) and it was truly an incredible answer.

“I’ve had a lot of people me for two reasons. One is about the diversity of color and the other about the female roles,” Zwangobani said. “It’s just a double whammy of joy. I teach when I’m not acting and my students, my female students and my students of color, have been coming up to speak to me about the show has been an absolute privilege and an honor and I just keep thinking of that kid again, how excited she would be. I have a daughter myself and to see how excited she has been to watch the show, she watched Galadriel in episode 6 when she’s fighting with the sailors and she just wanted to watch it again and again, she was like ‘that moment is SO COOL’ and so that’s been amazing.”

Benjamin Walker, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, and Daniel Weyman

Benjamin Walker as Gil-galad in LOTR: The Rings of Power

In the press for The Rings of Power, there has been a lot of talk about the karaoke nights and who is the best singer and while the two lovely actors who play Elanor and Poppy have been shouted out for their brilliant singing voices, I was shocked that Broadway’s own Benjamin Walker, who plays Gil-galad was never named. Walker was most recently on Broadway was Patrick Bateman in the short lived (and perfect) musical American Psycho the Musical and was previously on Broadway in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

When I asked why he was never named, Daniel Weyman (who plays the stranger) even pointed out that he never heard his voice (and I told him to listen to Bloody Bloody) but Walker made a joke about the lack of representation for his singing voice among the cast saying “I got an answer to this two fold: This is just the first season and we’re going to karaoke tonight.” Cynthia Addai-Robinson did joke beforehand for Walker to talk about karaoke.

But one of the things that I really wanted to talk about with The Rings of Power was the language of Tolkien and applying that to their preparation especially with having to learn Elvish. (Sorry to Daniel Weyman who famously barely speaks in the series.) “It’s obviously a struggle to learn a new language,” Walker said. “I’ve only found it pleasant. I mean Tolkien was a linguist. He basically wrote a language and then built some stories around it, if you look at it from that perspective. It is Shakespearean in that sense, how each realm speaks is another illustration to who they are fundamentally and it is a testament to the detail and love that he put into his stories. And it’s also the question of when you can’t communicate through speaking, then you sing.”

Addai-Robinson (who plays Miriel) talked a bit about dialect and how it is used in the show as well, saying “I was going to say there’s language and dialogue and trying to sound as Tolkien as possible and the words are definitely chosen with thought and care, especially differentiating between different groups but there’s also dialect. And I know for me and for you (Walker) and for you-ish (Weyman), Leith McPherson, who was our dialect coach, dialect was one of the points of entry for me where I knew I couldn’t sound as I do. So I knew the sort of work I would have to do in terms of sounding, not even in terms of sounding commanding, just knowing you’re going to have a different sound to your voice.”

Charles Edwards and Nazanin Boniadi

I spoke with Nazanin Boniadi and Charles Edwards towards the end of the roundtables and I first asked Nazanin Boniadi about being a part of the love story with Bronwyn and Arondir and how she found that balance between being a part of the one love story we were seeing playing out during the first season while also still making Bronwywn her own hero outside of it. “That was very important to me,” Boniadi said. “I had a conversation with the showrunner before I took on the job and I remember saying ‘I don’t want her to just serve the men around her and I want her to have agency’ and they promised me that did. And I had no idea to the extent of how she would slay some serious orcs, like…several of them, but she would end up saving the life of the man she loves,” she said.

“And everything about her is driven through love but there’s a sort of inner lioness in her. You don’t look at her and think ‘we’ll she’s going to go to battle and kill some orcs’ and yet she does because it comes from this really visceral desire and love. Love for her son, love for Arondir, and love for her people. And love conquers all, doesn’t it?” Boniadi said and it was a beautiful nod to what makes Bronwywn so fascinating to see on screen.

For Charles Edwards though, I did ask about being boss to who I have deemed as Hot Elrond and marrying those two worlds of characters we know already with new characters together. (Sorry to Hugo Weaving.) “I think because it’s such a new thing, this whole adventure, it’s never been done before, this part of Tolkien has never been told visually, the newness of the unwritten characters or non-canonical characters hasn’t jarred at all,” Edwards said. “Because it’s all new. And again, this is many many of thousands of years before Hugo Weaving puts his ears on. So the reference to the films visually, of course, is there. Because it’s something that can’t be avoided and it’s something that’s already been suggested from previous films so one has to acknowledge that to some extent. But we’re in a very different time. Then it’s very dark and very destroyed and we’re when it’s blossoming. Or was blossoming throughout this show. So it hasn’t seemed like ‘those characters weren’t in Tolkien, these are.’ They’re all new anyway.”


The season one finale of The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power aired today and make sure to catch up on this brilliant look into the world of Tolkien.

(image: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for ReedPop)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.