The upcoming Lord of the Rings series announced its main cast on Tuesday, to fans' surprise. The series has had actors attached in rumors or negotiations for months, but now there are 15 cast members confirmed by Amazon Prime Video itself. The announcement made waves in a fandom that has been waiting for a long time.
Amazon Prime's series adaptation of The Lord of the Rings franchise is one of the most ambitious projects in the slew of fantasy adaptations coming our way. The streaming service paid a huge licensing fee to the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien for the rights to his material, and it has paid for some fan-favorite actors in the world of genre fiction too.
"After undertaking an extensive global search, we are delighted finally to reveal the first group of brilliant performers who will take part in Amazon's The Lord of the Rings series," said series showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, in a statement published by Variety.
"These exceptionally talented women and men are more than just our actors: they are the newest members of an ever-expanding creative family that is now working tirelessly to bring Middle-earth to life anew for fans and audiences worldwide."
McKay and Payne are joined by writer Bryan Cogman on the project, known as the lore expert for the first several years of HBO's Game of Thrones. The untitled Lord of the Rings adaptation will not follow the main series, but instead dive deep into Tolkien's extended fictional world. This means that deep-cut knowledge will be essential.
The show will be set in the Second Age of Middle Earth — thousands of years before the Fellowship of the Ring or even The Hobbit. This is a time of war, around which the Rings of Power came into existence. Most of its main characters will be brand new to fans unless they have read Tolkien's book The Silmarillion, and other related works.
Here is a look at who will be starring in this new Lord of the Rings adaptation.
Morfydd Clark is one of the most established actors on this fledgling cast, and is playing one of the few recognizable characters. According to a report by Variety last month, Clark has been confirmed to be playing Galadriel, the elf woman played by Cate Blanchett in Peter Jackson's previous Middle Earth movies.
A Swedish woman raised in Wales, Clark is already known to fantasy fans from HBO's His Dark Materials and Netflix's Dracula. She also has a strong background in stage acting, which will play well into her portrayal of one of Tolkien's proud, distinguished elves.
Aramayo is another familiar fantasy face, known for playing the younger version of Ned Stark in flashbacks on Game of Thrones. According to a report by Deadline, he will be playing "the young hero role, referred to as Beldor."
So far fans have not pinned down a character named Beldor in Tolkien's sprawling histories whom this character might be an analog for. Fans have speculated that this and other rumored characters might be fake names, meant to throw them off the scent of whatever storyline is being adapted. On the other hand, book-readers did not spoil the big "Red Wedding" twist in Game of Thrones, so studios might be better off revealing these details to generate excitement from die-hard fans.
Finally, the last actor with a rumored character name is Markella Kavenagh, who has reportedly gotten the role of Tyra, according to Variety. Kavenagh is an Australian actress, known for the 2019 Western True History of the Kelly Gang.
Tyra is the character name fans have been most suspicious of while tracking reports and rumors about this Lord of the Rings series. On Reddit, fans note that it sounds a lot like Arya, and other generic fantasy names. Then again, that might make it right at home in Tolkien's world, which is considered the progenitor of modern fantasy as we know it.
Owain Aurthur is another Welsh star confirmed for the new Lord of the Rings series. He brings more experience to the production than his co-stars mentioned above, with several popular series already under his belt.
To fans in the U.S., Arthur may not be particularly recognizable, but in the U.K. he is beloved for roles in The Palace, The Patrol and Babylon. He also lent his voice to the video game Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom.
Australian actor Tom Budge began acting professionally around in the early 2000s, with a breakout role in 2005's The Proposition. Budge has done plenty of action roles before, but not a lot of recognizable fantasy. From the looks of it, he is up to the task.
Puerto Rican-born actor Ismael Cruz Córdova got his start in commercials, and worked his way up to prestige series and feature films.
Córdova appeared in an episode of The Mandalorian on Disney+ last month and has four other shows in post-production besides The Lord of the Rings. This series may be the thing to push him over the edge into A-list territory.
Nazanin Boniadi has had an eclectic career, working on everything from political action thrillers like Homeland to quirky sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother. She appeared in last year's Bombshell, where she played Rudi Bakhtiar. There is little doubt that Boniadi is fierce enough to flesh out the world of Middle Earth.
View this post on Instagram
Ema Horvath is relatively new to Hollywood, with her first professional credit coming in 2017. She will likely find herself catapulted into super-stardom when Lord of the Rings premieres, where fans speculate that her classical features will earn her a spot as an elf.
Another Game of Thrones fan is now tied to Lord of the Rings — Joseph Mawle, known to viewers for playing Benjen Stark, a.k.a. Cold Hands. Mawle's character became a half-undead renegade in the series, showing up periodically to save Jon Snow or Bran Stark from White Walkers.
While he looked good as a gruff, dark-haired Stark, Mawle could just as easily go blond and play an elf in Lord of the Rings. His stature makes him an unlikely candidate for a dwarf or a halfling, though there is no telling what the series could accomplish with its prodigious budget.
Tyroe Muhafidin is brand new to Hollywood — or at least to IMDb. The actor has no previous credits, nor even a profile photo on the service. However, fans did dig up an audition tape for the young actor on YouTube after his casting. Presumably, this young man will be tugging at our heartstrings before the war in Middle Earth is over.
Sophia Nomvete is known to many as a British stage actor, having worked at Shakespeare's Globe Theater in London. When she was announced for Lord of the Rings, her fans cheered wildly on social media, and she herself made an awed post on Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
Another young person cutting their teeth on Lord of the Rings is Megan Richards, known for appearing in Netflix's Wanderlust in 2018 and the BBC's Doctors last year.
View this post on Instagram
Fans seem confident that the thick-bearded Dylan Smith will be playing a dwarf on the new Lord of the Rings series, but so far his role has not been confirmed. Smith is known for roles in I am the Night on TNT, Into the Badlands on AMC and the Maze Runner franchise, among others. He had a prominent role in TNT's Jason Bourne spinoff series Treadstone last year.
So far, Charlie Vickers is best-known for playing Guglielmo Pazzi in the Netflix series Medici, but that will likely change when fans see him set foot on Middle Earth. Like many of his co-stars, Vickers seems to be relatively new to the entertainment industry, but poised to take a huge leap into super stardom.
Finally, the last cast member Amazon announced on Tuesday was Daniel Weyman, a 43-year-old star known for roles in Gentleman Jack and Treadstone, among others. However, Weyman was curiously not included on Lord of the Rings' IMDb page on Tuesday. In his place was Maxim Baldry, another rising star from England with a few roles to his name.
Baldry was listed on IMDb for just one episode instead of two like the rest of the cast. This is odd considering Amazon owns IMDb. Whatever the case, this will undoubtedly fuel even more fan speculation.
The Lord of the Rings series is expected to film this year, and is slated for release in 2021 on Amazon Prime Video.