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Everything We Know So Far About Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings Series

Rebecca Johansson

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Sauron Lord of the Rings image
New Line Cinema

Just 17 years after the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s epic The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Amazon have confirmed that a new TV series is currently in production. Here, we expose everything we know about this upcoming remake.

Peter Jackson’s take on Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, was a global triumph. Now, six movies, 21 Oscars, and 19 years later, we’re heading back to Middle-earth for a brand new Lord of the Rings TV series.

Amazon, Netflix and HBO had all been in talks for acquiring the rights to the new series. But in November 2017, Amazon finally signed a $250 million rights deal with the author’s estate. Plus publisher HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema to produce a multi-season show for television.

And if you think $250 million sounds like a lot, The Hollywood Reporter stated that the budget is set to be at least $1 billion. Thus making it the biggest in television history.

So with filming now well underway – and two episodes already in the bag. We’ve put together everything you need to know about Amazon’s billion-dollar adaption of Tolkien’s beloved Lord of the Rings.

Where is the series being filmed?

It’s been officially confirmed by showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, that filming will take place in New Zealand. This echos Jackson’s decision to film the movie counterparts there.

Payne and McKay said that New Zealand was the perfect place to reflect the “primordial beauty of the Second Age of Middle-earth”.

“We knew we needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forest and mountains, that is also a home to world-class sets, studios and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople and other staff,” they wrote. “And we’re happy to officially confirm New Zealand as our home for our series.”

“We are grateful to the people and the government of New Zealand and especially Auckland for supporting us during this pre-production phase. The abundant measure of Kiwi hospitality with which they have welcomed us has already made us feel right at home. And we are looking forward to deepening our partnership in the years to come.”

Whilst this is good news for New Zealand and fans of the original Lord of the Rings films, it’s bad news for Scotland. Where it was speculated that filming could take place. According to The Guardian, “uncertainty over Brexit saw [Scotland] fall out of favour with Amazon”.

When is the Lord of the Rings TV series due to air?

Production on Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series was halted in early 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The closure came one month after the series started filming. And after New Zealand instituted protective immigration measures to protect the country from the Coronavirus. This included 14 days of compulsory self-isolation for citizens and visitors entering the country.

Thankfully, Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series was among several projects that had been granted a border exemption by New Zealand. The series’ crew aimed to resume filming in September. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed in December that production is well underway.

Prior to these delays, it was thought that a December 2021 release date was in the pipeline (which would have made sense pre-pandemic). Now though, due to these unforeseen circumstances, no official date has yet been released.

Have any of the cast members been confirmed?

A number of cast members for Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series have now been officially announced.

“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 showrunners Payne and McKay in January 2020.

“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.”

Robert Aramayo (Game of Thrones), Owain Arthur (The Patrol), Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland), and Maxim Baldry (Doctor Who) are among the leading stars, supported by the likes of:

  • Tom Budge (Judy & Punch)
  • Morfydd Clark (His Dark Materials) – rumoured to be playing a young Galadriel
  • Ismael Cruz Córdova (The Mandalorian)
  • Ema Horvath (What Lies Below)
  • Markella Kavenagh (Romper Stomper) – rumoured to be playing a character named Tyra
  • Joseph Mawle (Game of Thrones) – rumoured to be playing Oren, the series’ lead villain
  • Tyroe Muhafidin (Treasure Maps and Tinned Spaghetti)
  • Megan Richards (Wanderlust)
  • Dylan Smith (Total Recall)
  • Charlie Vickers (Medici)
  • Sophia Nomvete
Additional cast

Plus, just this month (December 2020), Amazon released the details of another 20 cast members:

  • Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Entourage)
  • Ian Blackburn (Shelter)
  • Kip Chapman (Top of the Lake)
  • Anthony Crum (The Wilds)
  • Maxine Cunliffe (Power Rangers Megaforce)
  • Trystan Gravelle (Mr Selfridge)
  • Sir Lenny Henry (Doctor Who)
  • Thusitha Jayasundera (Humans)
  • Fabian McCallum (You, Me and the Apocalypse)
  • Simon Merrells, (Knightfall)​
  • Geoff Morrell (Top of the Lake)
  • Peter Mullan (Westworld)
  • Lloyd Owen (Cleaning Up)
  • Augustus Prew (Prison Break)
  • Peter Tait (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) – previously portrayed Shagrat, a Black Uruk (Orc) in The Return of the King
  • Alex Tarrant (Mean Mums)
  • Leon Wadham (The Bad Seed)
  • Benjamin Walker (Jessica Jones)
  • Sara Zwangobani (Home and Away)

Although we now know the names of a number of actors set to appear in the series, Amazon are remaining tight-lipped about the characters that many of these cast members will play.

Will the new LOTR TV series be set in the same time period as the films?

No – the Lord of the Rings TV series will explore an era of Tolkien’s world that hasn’t been recreated on film before. The fabled second age of Middle-Earth.

When the series was originally announced, there was an assumption that it would just be a retelling of the trilogy of books: essentially a TV remake of Jackson’s films.

Another rumour was that the series would center on a young Aragorn (portrayed by Viggo Mortensen in the films).

But when Middle-earth maps posted by Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings Twitter profile (@LOTRonPrime) showed lands that would’ve only existed long before Aragorn’s time, it was clear this series would be based in a period far earlier. (Although the show will feature the island of Númenor, the home of Aragorn’s ancestors.)

Thus, it has now been confirmed that it’ll actually be a prequel series, set thousands of years before the time period in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings novels.

The second age

So while Amazon’s LOTR TV series will be based on Tolkien’s source material, the show will explore new storylines that occur before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring.

According to Tolkien scholar and The Lord of the Rings consultant Tom Shippey, the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien has refused to grant Amazon permission to film anything other than the Second Age, so as not to alter the history of the more fleshed out Third Age. “But you can add new characters and ask a lot of questions, like: What has Sauron done in the meantime? Where was he after Morgoth was defeated? Theoretically, Amazon can answer these questions by inventing the answers, since Tolkien did not describe it,” Shippey explained. “But it must not contradict anything which Tolkien did say. That’s what Amazon has to watch out for. It must be canonical, it is impossible to change the boundaries which Tolkien has created. It is necessary to remain ‘Tolkienian’.”

For reference, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings novels are set thousands of years after the Second Age, toward the end of the Third Age. The Second Age, on the other hand, is most notable for being the time period when Sauron created the One Ring.

If you’re wondering how much ground can be covered in a series with the Second Age as its setting, the Second Age spans a time period of 3,441 years.

Are there any famous writers/producers working on the project?

Writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay will act as co-showrunners on the new series. Speaking of their appointment, they said in a joint statement: “We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care. It is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.”

Joining them as a consultant is Bryan Cogman, who was responsible for writing some of Game of Thrones’ best episodes.

Also announced to be writing episodes for the Lord of the Rings TV show are Gennifer Hutchinson (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul), Helen Shang (Hannibal), Justin Dohle (Stranger Things), and Stephany Folsom (Toy Story 4).

Getting ready

According to Amazon Studios chief, Jennifer Salke, the writer’s room is ‘working under lock and key’. “They’re already generating really exciting material. They’re down in Santa Monica. You have to go through such clearance, and they have all their windows taped closed. And there’s a security guard that sits outside, and you have to have a fingerprint to get in there because their whole board is up on a thing of the whole season.”

J.A. Bayona (director of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) will helm the first two episodes of the first season, and will act as an executive producer.

Behind the scenes there are also a number of other noteworthy persons, including costume designer Kate Hawley (Edge of Tomorrow, Suicide Squad), production designer Rick Heinrichs (Sleepy Hollow, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), and visual effects supervisor Jason Smith (Super 8, Avengers). Concept artist John Howe, who worked on Jackson’s epic trilogy, will also have the same position on the show.

“This team is our Fellowship,” Payne and McKay said in a statement. “Assembled from around the world, all walking the road together to try and accomplish something far greater than any of us could on our own.”

Will any of the characters we know feature in the new LOTR TV series?

Due to the period that Amazon’s TV series will cover, there are only a few characters from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy alive at this point.

Morfydd Clark (one of the actresses confirmed to be working on the show) is rumoured to be playing a young Galadriel. Galadriel was born in Valinor during the Years of the Trees – before the First Age had even begun. Considering Amazon’s series takes place in the Second Age, Galadriel is definitely a character that could feature.

Gandalf

Like Galadriel and the race of elves, wizards also have a lengthy lifespan. Sir Ian McKellen – who played Gandalf in Jackson’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies – has said that no other actor could play the wise wizard. “What do you mean, another Gandalf?” McKellen told Graham Norton when asked whether someone could take over the role. “I haven’t said yes because I haven’t been asked. But are you suggesting that someone else is going to play it? Gandalf is over 7,000 years old, so I’m not too old.”

But, although Gandalf is alive during the Second Age, he only arrived in Middle-earth during the Third Age. A period which Amazon is not allowed to explore. So, unless Amazon intends on featuring lands and realms outside of Middle-earth, Gandalf will almost certainly not be featured.

But The Lord of the Rings main nemesis, Sauron, was most definitely alive and creating the One Ring in Middle-earth during the Second Age, so this is certainly a storyline which Amazon could explore.

How many seasons will there be?

Amazon has committed to producing five seasons, with rumours suggesting that the first season will consist of 20 episodes.

Although we could still be over a year away from Amazon’s LOTR TV series, what we’ve heard thus far is certainly exciting.

We echo the words of John Rhys-Davies (who played Gimli in Jackson’s epics) who, when asked what he thought about the new Lord of the Rings TV series, said: “There are so many other histories attached to it and it’s the pre-history and the pre-setting of Middle Earth that Amazon is going to be doing and I wish them well for it. I think a great storyteller’s stories should all be told if they will hold up.”


What do you think about Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series? Are there any actors or actresses you’re pleased to see? Or any you would’ve cast? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.


More of our Lord of the Rings articles HERE.

Read IMDB information on The Lord of the Rings TV show HERE.

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Movie News

The Good, The Bad And The Classic

Sarah Casserley

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Star From Disney Plus

Disney Plus Star image
Disney Plus

Disney Plus introduced Star to the service a little while ago now with loads of highlights. We’re sure, like us, you’ve had a good old delve into the catalogue and watched some of your faves. But, just in case you’ve missed anything, we have put together a little guide on what’s good to get stuck into. Also what’s bad and could do with being swiped past, and the classic must-see TV series and films that you probably didn’t even realise were there.

So, when you find yourself looking for something to watch on a Friday evening or binge for a couple of weeks, don’t scroll endlessly, just take a look at our guide of Disney Plus Star recommendations.


The Good

These are the films and series that have been released within the last 10 years, which you need to watch or should at least be on your ‘to watch’ list.

Series on Disney Plus Star

Atlanta (2016 – Present)

If you haven’t watched this series yet, why not? The creative and talented Donald Glover heads up the show as the main character ‘Earn’, and on the writing credits too (among 6 others, including his brother Stephen Glover), in this funny, gritty and realistic series which follows a rapper ‘Paper Boy’ and his manager Earn (Glover) as they navigate the rap business. If you have watched the show before, you may want to re-watch for a recap as season 3 has been promised to us very soon.

9-1-1 (2018 – Present)

This isn’t just any emergency service drama, this series covers the lives of several Los Angeles first responders: police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and dispatchers. It also has some big names involved, including Angela Bassett and, later in the series, Jennifer Love Hewitt. For some reason though, there’s only two of the four seasons of 9-1-1 on Disney Plus Star so far, but it’s well worth a watch and we’re sure the other two seasons should be along soon.

Doll Face (2019 – Present)

By the title alone, and the fact that it’s a weekly release, it initially looked like this series was set around a stereotypical break up and was destined for the bad list. However, the witty script, amazing female actors and relatable storyline made me put this series firmly within the good pile as I can’t wait to watch more. Kat Dennings takes the lead in the series and really brings to life upcoming writer Jordan Weiss’ story of female friendships after a breakup.

Films on Disney Plus Star

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

This beautiful coming of age story, based on a book with the same name, is a great watch for all ages, not just teens. Be ready for oodles of romance, as well as teary and heart-warming moments, as you follow two teens affected by cancer as they set off on a journey of discovery.

The Favourite (2018)

We love a period drama, and this quirky look at the reign of Queen Anne is no exception. With starring roles from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Nicholas Hoult, it’s no wonder The Favourite had 336 nominations in award season and 182 wins. It’s definitely one of the best films from the last 5 years on Disney Plus Star.

Deadpool 2 (2018)

There are some examples coming up in these lists that give sequels a bad name, however, Deadpool 2 isn’t one of them. If you were putting off watching this one because of the sequel curse, don’t, it’s just as good – if not better – than the first. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is back as the foul-mouthed superhero and, this time, he brings some new friends: Domino (Zazie Beetz), Fire Fist (Julian Dennison) and Weasel (T.J. Miller) among others.


The Bad

There’s not as many on this ‘bad’ list as Star has done a pretty good job with their chosen titles. However, like any service, there are always a few bad eggs in our opinion… This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch these, it’s more of a warning that there may be better things to press play on.

Series on Disney Plus Star

Lost (2004 – 2010)

To be completely honest here, the first two seasons of Lost are very entertaining and interesting to watch, as you follow several people who try to survive a plane crash and have to adapt to life on a strange island. But, by the middle of season three, things start to get a little confusing and we found ourselves getting lost (pun intended) in the plot until the final sixth season, only to be hit with a heavily reported disappointing end… even worse than some people’s feelings about Game Of Thrones. So, we recommendation delving into some of the other series rather than this one.

24: Legacy (2017)

Trying to build another series from an established series can be very hit or miss – and this one was a huge miss. So much so that Fox axed it just after one series.

It takes on the same format as the original 24 series, where one season is just one day, however, this time they are trying to stop a terrorist attack. The format just doesn’t work with this storyline and you lose a lot of momentum and excitement, plus the acting just isn’t the best.

Films on Disney Plus Star

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Just like building another series off a series, sequels can also be tricky beasts… some are good, some are bad and, when it follows an absolute classic like ‘Independence Day’, it needs to be amazing. Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite live up to the legacy of the first film; I mean, not even ‘Hunger Games’ Liam Hemsworth couldn’t get this to match up with the original. But it is still entertaining, so if you do decide to watch this one, just do so with caution.


The Classic

As you have probably already noticed there are some absolute classics on Disney Plus Star, so this is going to be the longest list, full of series that you can binge from start to finish and films that stand the test of time and can be re-watched repeatedly. Most of these titles don’t need much explanation as you’ll have already watched or heard about them, but you might not have spotted them yet on Disney Plus Star as some were buried deep in the archives.

Series on Disney Plus Star

X Files (1993 – 2001)

If you were born in the 90s or 00s, this one may have gone under your radar; however, once you watch the first season full of aliens, wired going ons and the brilliantly disjointed relationship of FBI agents, conspiracy theorist Fox Mulder and realist Dana Scully, you won’t want to stop watching. Granted some of the special effects are a little dated and unbelievable, but you will soon forget about that as you get sucked into the narrative.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2002)

I know, I know, it’s hard to think there are people out there that haven’t watched a single vampire slaying, kick-ass, sci-fi loaded episode… but there is. If you are one of those people, what are you waiting for? Every single episode is here wating for you to binge. If you don’t fancy delving into the full thing, I would recommend at least taking a peek at the seventh episode of the sixth series (Once More, with Feeling: Buffy the Musical).

24 (2001 – 2014)

Before Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) burst on our screens in 2001, this kind of format for a series had never been attempted before and it just worked, so much so it ran for 9 seasons. It may seem odd at first, as each series is just one day, but you really do get sucked in.

Grey’s Anatomy (2005 – 2018)

Within its almost 13 years of being on air, this series has offered every heart-warming and breath-holding moment you need from a hospital-based drama. This would be a perfect series to start if you want something that will last you a while.

Sons of Anarchy (2008 – 2014)

Bikes, leather and action: what’s not to like? This series ran for a glorious 7 seasons, and within these episodes, there is storyline upon storyline that will keep you hooked and wanting to know more about the motorcycle club that straddles the line between legal and illegal.

Films on Disney Plus Star

(We’re pretty sure you will have watched most of these films, but they are well worth a re-watch)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

The film that started them all. Since the release of this film in 1968, there have been seven more sequels and remakes of the original sci-fi movie, two of which you can also watch on Disney Plus Star: Planet Of the Apes (2001) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014).

Jewel of the Nile (1985)

It could possibly be that the countless TV showings over the have passed you by, but if you’ve not seen Jewel of the Nile, you should definitely give it a go. Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito are fantastic in this pure 80s romantic action comedy.

Cocktail (1988)

Sticking within the 80s romantic comedy realm, you’ve also got Cocktail, which is full of love ultimatums, with a dash of cheese. Come on, you know you want to watch a young Tom Cruise at work.

The Fly (1986)

One name – Jeff Goldblum. Watch it.

Pretty Woman (1990)

We were just as excited as the first time we watched it when we saw this classic on the service. To not watch this again would be a big mistake. HUGE.

Toys (1992)

This wonderfully wacky story by Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson comes alive with the help of one of the best comedic actors of all time, Robin Williams, alongside the wonderful Joan Cusack and, bizarrely, LL Cool J.

What’s Love Got To Do With It (1993)

Whether you love Tina Turner’s music or not, it does not matter. This is one of the most interesting and inspirational biographical movies that you will ever watch. Word of warning, the incredible Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishburne are so great at their roles that some of the more sensitive scenes are very realistic.

Braveheart (1995)

With any new service, there are glitches, and we found one! Whilst watching this absolute classic a few weeks ago, about two and a half hours into the film the screen when to the small screen format as if the credits had come up, making it difficult to watch the last part of the film. However, when we went to finish the film off a week later the glitch had been fixed and you can now watch the whole film without interruption… FREEDOM!

William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996)

We all know that when it comes to film, Baz Luhrmann is a genius and he doesn’t disappoint with this abstract take on the story. It’s worth watching for the soundtrack alone.

Independence Day (1996)

90s Will Smith doing what he did best: lots of running, fighting and shouting – need I say more? Oh yes, you can also watch another one of his masterpieces, Enemy of the State (1998) on this service too.

Con Air (1997)

‘Put the bunny back in the box’ and sit down and watch this classic… we all know Nicholas Cage films can be a little unpredictable, but this film is definitely a hit, especially as he is joined by other legends of the screen, including John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, John Cusack and Ving Rhames.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Well if it’s at our fingertips, why not watch this film for the 56th time… this year.


So, there you have it, these are some of our highlights and must-miss titles from Disney Plus Star. Are there any that we missed? If so, comment below and let us know what category they belong in.


Check out the top 10 hidden gems in the other Disney Plus feeds HERE.

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