First look at Amazon’s billion-dollar ‘Lord of the Rings’ series

Middle-earth has never looked so good.

Amazon has given a sneak peek at its highly anticipated, highly expensive “Lord of the Rings” prequel series “The Rings of Power” — and its very attractive cast look more at home in Hollywood than they do in Hobbiton.

After debuting a teaser trailer last month, the studio has now shared snaps of the show’s sexy stars with Vanity Fair, including an alluring portrait of Welsh beauty Morfydd Clark, 32.

Clark will portray Galadriel — a character previously played by Cate Blanchett in Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy.

“The Rings of Power” is set to take place 1,000 years before the events of “The Lord of The Rings.” However, there won’t be many other crossover characters, with Amazon creating new racially diverse roles in order to modernize JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

Galadriel (played by Morfydd Clark) in a first look at
Galadriel (played by Morfydd Clark) in a first look at “The Rings of Power.”
Vanity Fair
Ismael Cruz Córdova will portray Arondir, a character who's been created especially for the series.
Ismael Cruz Córdova will portray Arondir, a character who’s been created especially for the series.
Amazon/Vanity Fair

Other cast photos shared with Vanity Fair show “The Rings of Power” will feature plenty of actors of color.

Actor Ismael Cruz Córdova, 34, smolders in one shot with Vanity Fair. The Puerto Rican star has been cast as the character Arondir and will be the first person of color to play a Tolkien elf.

The series will also feature Iranian-born beauty Nazanin Boniadi, 41, as well as British actress Sophia Nomvete — the first black woman to play a dwarf in a Tolkien project.

Nazanin Boniadi, 40, has nabbed a lead role in the blockbuster series.  The Iranian-born beauty is helping to bring diversity to Middle Earth.
Nazanin Boniadi, 41, has nabbed a lead role in the blockbuster series. The Iranian-born beauty is helping to bring diversity to Middle-earth.
Getty Images for InStyle

Some critics have accused Amazon of trying to make Tolkien’s work “woke,” but execs aren’t backing down.

“It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like,” executive producer Lindsey Weber told Vanity Fair. “Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together.”

Meanwhile, others have feared that Amazon will sex-up “The Lord of the Rings” universe, following news that the series hired an “intimacy coordinator” to help film its frisky scenes.

Morfydd Clark will play the ageless Elven warrior Galadriel in the new series.
Morfydd Clark will play the ageless elven warrior Galadriel in the new series.
PA Images via Getty Images

But “The Rings of Power” showrunner Patrick McKay told Vanity Fair that Middle-earth won’t be a hotbed of nudity and orgies, saying the series will be far more family friendly than the R-rated “Game of Thrones.”

“The goal was to make a show for everyone, for kids who are 11, 12, and 13, even though sometimes they might have to pull the blanket up over their eyes if it’s a little too scary,” he declared.

Other parts of the series will include some of Tolkien’s more universal themes.

“It’s about friendship and it’s about brotherhood and underdogs overcoming great darkness,” he said.

“The Rings of Power” is based on JRR Tolkien’s “Appendixes” — a 150 page “postscript” that was published in 1954 adding details to the fictional history of Middle-earth.

The rights for “Appendices” were auctioned off back in 2017, sparking a furious bidding war between Amazon, Netflix and HBO — all of whom were eager to produce a small-screen blockbuster.

The series is slated for release in September, and will purportedly cost more than $1 billion ounce production and promotional costs are combined.
The series is slated for release in September, and will purportedly cost more than $1 billion ounce production and promotional costs are combined.
Amazon Studios

Amazon eventually paid a whopping $250 million for the rights. The company reportedly dropped a further $462 million filming the first season — which will consist of eight episodes. Production took place in New Zealand amid the COVID pandemic.

The series will also be heavily promoted before it premieres in September, taking total costs above $1 billion.

Amazon honcho Jeff Bezos is purported to be a Tolkien obsessive, and is hoping the show is a huge hit for his company, cementing its status as a competitive streaming service.

The show was filmed in New Zealand amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The show was filmed in New Zealand amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Amazon Studios

“He is personally a huge fan of Tolkien and incredibly passionate about all of it and very well versed,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, told Vanity Fair. “His desire to be ambitious —​ and for us to be ambitious with our content — has always been clear from the moment I got here. This fit perfectly with that big ambition, to take on something that would require the whole company working together to execute.”

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