“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” is as big a TV show as ever, with a record budget spent recreating JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth during the Second Age, and a crew of roughly two dozen series published. regulars and dozens of other featured players to represent her sprawling story of Sauron’s ascent.
However, one character undoubtedly sits at the center of the show: Galadriel. The old elf, aged before the moon and sun first appeared in Middle-earth, was an important character in Tolkien’s novels The Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson’s “Rings” trilogy, as played by Cate Blanchett.
In The Rings of Power, set thousands of years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, the younger Galadriel is not the calm and wise co-ruler of the Elven Kingdom of Luthorin. Instead, she’s consumed in her search for the Dark Lord Sauron, the mysteriously absent lord of evil responsible for the death of Gladrill’s brother. In the Rings of Strength, Galadriel was instantly strengthened by the thousands of years she was already alive, but had yet to become the stately (and gorgeous) woman of the stature that she had become in the Third Age.
Somehow, Morfydd Clark (“Saint Maud”) manages to capture all those dimensions of character. In her review, diverse Critic Carolyn Framke praises Clarke’s “gravity capture”, stating that “Clarke, tasked with making Galadriel an equal voice of reason and combat hero, proves Clarke the series’ most reliable constant.”
A lifelong fan of Tolkien thanks to her parents, Clarke is instinctively aware of how important Galadriel is. She said, “My friends are all fans of The Lord of the Rings, and I have to tell you, they describe it to me a lot,” she said. diverse. “It is a living legend. A living legend.”
However, Clarke made it clear that it wasn’t until she agreed to join “The Rings of Power” – and arrived in New Zealand in the fall of 2019 to film the first season – that she learned from show makers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay that she was, in fact, cast as Gladrill. . Thanks to the pandemic, the experience became an adventure for nearly two years, leading the 33-year-old to push beyond what she thought were her own limits. I spoke with diverse About training to perform many of Galadriel’s stunts, how her Welsh heritage helped her into the Tolkien Elvish, what it was like when she was spending so much unexpected time in New Zealand and what she would say to Tolkien fans who were surprised to see Galadriel as a badass warrior.
When I was in the audition process, I understood that you were in the race to play Galadriel?
Little did I know I was playing Galadriel when I got to New Zealand, even. I knew I was playing some kind of elf. I knew it was in the second age. My sister and I were reading it all, and I was thinking I was Celerian, her daughter, because I don’t think I could fathom that she would be Gladrill. So I went to New Zealand without knowing who I was playing, which now when I look back, it’s so crazy. Everyone in the cast did the same thing. We all plunged into this craziness together and met each other there. It wasn’t until after I arrived that I found out who I was playing and obviously had to recalibrate. I still can’t quite believe who I’m playing.
How much did you know about Galadriel’s full history before you even knew you were playing it?
I knew “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”. I didn’t touch “The Silmarillion” at all, really. I had no idea what I did. There is little where Tolkien describes Gladrill as having tied her hair in a tiara with a pigtail while going into battle. I was kind of like, wow this opens up so much, that this happened. Also, Tolkien changed his ideas about Galadriel, making it more interesting. I became similarly obsessed, why did Tolkien need Galadriel to be so at that point? He kind of fell in love with her, I think, as he got older, and so there’s a fluidity in her character.
In just the first two episodes, you climb, fight, swim, and dive deep into the water. Did you have a feeling that your role would be very physical, at least?
no. That was a big surprise. I’ve never seen myself as a normal person with this stuff. I’m dyslexic. I had extra time on exams because I was really bad at writing. So I really thought I couldn’t do all those things. The people I’ve worked with have been so wonderful to get them to do this. It is a testimony to them that I was doing all of these things. The stunts section was amazing, and not just in terms of what they taught us physically, but the part of it gets in your mind [that you can do it]. I really think it’s best for everyone to be taught by the exciting New Zealand gaming teams. If school was like an exciting school for us in this job, we’d all be much happier.
What did you actually do to prepare? What is the process?
We’ll start each morning with three hours of stunts, which will include some kind of general strength, flexibility, and then obviously, the swords are coming. And there were times in the beginning where about 20 of us were there, and we were learning sword fighting, and then we would perform it like a group of elves, and that was really fun. We had a great personal trainer named Matt, which I despised at times. But I think that’s part of being a good personal trainer. I did a lot of climbing, and I love climbing anyway. It’s nice to have one thing that you learn fairly well about. Otherwise, you can despair a little. Then swimming. I actually thought I could swim, and after the first lesson, I realized I was wrong and that I should never be in the sea. But now I can swim thanks to Trent Bray.
How was it for you to include the Elvish language in your performance?
Well, I went to a Welsh language school, and everything is taught in Welsh. Welsh is phonetic, so it’s much better for a dyslexic. I started learning English in the third year, and I said “What is this?” The thing my Tolkien-obsessed mom was really proud of and passed on to us is that Tolkien was inspired by Welsh. Weirdly, his actions were a badge of honor to me, because Welsh people are obsessed with Welsh and anything Welsh. It was really cool to play a bilingual character. And yes, I think it served me well.
Some fans have a very specific image of Galadriel in their heads like this royal woman from the woods who isn’t physically the way you are on the show. What would you say to fans who were surprised or skeptical of Galadriel’s interpretation of “Rings of Power”?
I would say its serenity is hard earned. I don’t think you reach that level of wisdom without going through things. She’s actually talking about it [how] With wisdom, there is a loss of innocence, which is good for me to find in knowledge. Because, like, how young are you when you’re still thousands of years old? So he was thinking about any innocence she had lost during this time. The elves of the Third Age developed to a certain degree. The elves of the first era are really messy and beat each other a lot, they fight and make fun of each other too. They are the history of Middle-earth, and so they are forever changing. It was really exciting for all of us to play canon characters to explore how these characters become as we know them.
The show is a massive commitment — the show’s creators said they’re planning a 50-episode series. All of my questions were set up thinking you knew more about participating in the show, so how much of that commitment was a factor for you to sign up for the Rings of Strength?
Yes, I didn’t know. When you audition for something like this, you never know you’re going to get it, and so you don’t really think about those things. I actually personally refuse to allow myself to fantasize or daydream, because otherwise, you’ll become too attached to everything you’re auditioning for. I guess I’m still coming to terms with what this means. The next few weeks are going to be huge at that, but also kind of a relief. You make things so they can be seen and enjoyed. It’s time for it to happen with this. But I think I’ll go through another period of acclimatization.
How long have you been in New Zealand from start to finish?
It was supposed to be nine months, then it ended up in New Zealand from October 2019 to August 2021. Almost two years.
So what did you do to pass the time?
There wasn’t much time to pass, because we were so busy. I was really lucky to be able to tour the South Island, which was really cool. I mean, in New Zealand, you’re just in a constant sublime state, you really are. This was really important in that elves are obsessed with nature. Beauty is a big part of their essence and what they see as some sort of reason to survive. So that was really inspiring. I have done a lot of crafts. I was also very fortunate to have become good friends with my neighbours, who kind of took me under their wing. You know, I didn’t expect when I went to New Zealand that I would feel like I’d be away from home again when I came back. That was – yes. [Long pause.] I feel very fortunate to have been received in New Zealand as I have been.
Finally, you mentioned earlier that you think you’ve been portrayed as Galadriel’s daughter. She’s met her husband and has a daughter in the second age – so is that something we might get from this season’s hints?
The Galadriel family is a big part of it. There are five seasons, and many will be explored.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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