• Festivals

“Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” S2 – Spoilers & Memories

At the recent Monte Carlo Television Festival, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Owain Arthur, Maxim Baldry and Lloyd Owen gave a sneak preview of what can be expected in the new season of the series.

Owain Arthur was the first to speak. “Darkness has fallen,” he said. “Let’s say that. I think we’re all going through a big journey in season two.”

“You know that Sauron’s here.” Maxim Baldry chipped in next, “It’s more action packed. Faster too.”

Lloyd Owen added, “We all know that Sauron has been revealed at the end of Season 1. In Season 2 we see what happens when that amount of evil is finally realized. Each person throughout the universe, throughout Tolkien’s world, is going to be affected by that. There’s always going to be a human choice as to what happens when you’re introduced to people with an inherent badness. Will there be a darkness in you that will be revealed? Or will you move to the good side? Everyone is going to be faced with a dilemma, a moral dilemma, and there’s going to be some really difficult choices for each human to take. The writers have really brought that to the fore. You really feel the humanity in the internal struggle of, ‘Which way do I go here? How do I choose?’”

Baldry added, “And, Elendil has gone back to Númenor.”

Both Owen and Baldry refused to be specific about Isildur’s fate. But through the lore we know he returns, and Baldry – who plays the character – has been photographed on set.

Owen commented on the overall arc for characters in Season 2, “I think every personal relationship is affected by the politics and the evil, and how it changes and warps the mind.”

As the men wound down replying, Cynthia Addai-Robinson added, “Season 1 was really about an introduction. They set the stage for aspects of the story (that are to come in season 2, which are) maybe a little bit more familiar to audiences, because we do know a little bit more of these next few things. You have to think about Season 1 as being for those who are unfamiliar with the books, as popular as they are. A lot of people don’t know the characters or these worlds. One needed to set the stage for a very eventful second age. So Season 2, you’re going to see a lot of that storyline start to come through.”

Each actor then recapped some of their favorite and most challenging moments from the shoot. Owain Arthur bemoaned his choice to go with metal boots, which he had originally requested thinking they’d “ground” the physicality of a dwarf. “They are big and heavy,” he noted ruefully – and he’s still wearing them in Season 2: “a choice I now regret.”

Another hazard was getting sushi in his beard. “Generally, if I see a piece of hair in my food, I toss the food, because I don’t know who that hair belongs to, but when you’re eating your own beard? It just made me so angry.”

“He’s still angry,” quipped Baldry.

Baldry – whom some may recognize as the boy Rowan Atkinson befriends in Mr. Bean’s Holiday – has previously talked of getting seasick while shooting the water scenes in Season 1, but he added at the Monte Carlo Television Festival, that the horse riding was pretty challenging too, and not for the reasons you’d think.

“They had me on a horse, wearing a huge helmet which made it pretty difficult to see by itself,” he explained. “To make matters worse, the helmet had this big ponytail on the back, that was just going everywhere as I galloped into town, but mainly in my face. It was a very Ariana Grande moment.” He laughed. “That was a tough day on the set. But then when you go outside and see an Orc drinking a milkshake, it makes up for it.”

For Cynthia Addai-Robinson, portraying Queen Regent Miriel felt like kismet. “Sometimes you get cast in a role as you are navigating something akin in your real life. I don’t have to lead a society. I’m grateful that I don’t. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. But it was interesting to consider what happens when you sense the fraying of society and your feelings around that. I think it’s distressing to have that sense that there is a change underway and you don’t know which way it’s going to go.

“Miriel gave me the chance to think on that. For many people watching the series, it maybe allowed something that they could latch onto. The show is a place for an audience to come and feel a sense of humanity and being able to relate to, think on, weep over and laugh about things. I feel like that’s what Lord of the Rings: Power of the Rings does.”

The cast agreed that shooting Season 2 in the UK, rather than New Zealand, added resonance. “Tolkien’s from the UK. He was inspired by the local nature, the trees, pastures, and fields,” noted Lloyd Owen. “I think filming there was also a homage to him in a way. It was fantastic to be on location. There’s definitely something about coming back to where Tolkien imagined this story originally. He would’ve been inspired by the geography that surrounded him; that and his South African upbringing. It felt like treading on hallowed ground, being in the UK.”

In closing, a reporter asked what effect the internet trolls’ reaction to inclusivity in the casting of the series had had on the actors.

Owain Arthur leaned in, his outrage audible in his voice.  “It is infuriating when you go, ‘Oh, God. Really? Are we still there as a human race?’ That drives me wild. The (actors) have been through a lot to be on the receiving end of things. I hope one day we will as a human race just be one. It sounds very, maybe pathetic or dramatic what I’m saying here, but genuinely: just stop racism. Full stop.”

Lord of the Rings: Power of the Rings is due for release on Prime in 2023.