'Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power' Previews at Comic-Con - Rolling Stone
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‘How Do You Say ‘Oh Sh-t’ in Elvish’?: ‘Lord of the Rings’ TV Series Previews at Comic-Con

“It’s the forging of the rings of power, the rise and fall of Sauron, the last glance of elves and men to come together,” says ‘Rings of Power’ co-showrunner JD Payne at the ‘LOTR’ Comic-Con panel

Stephen Colbert, JD Payne and Patrick McKay onstage at The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power panel in Hall H at the 2022 Comic-Con International held at the San Diego Convention Center on July 22, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images)Stephen Colbert, JD Payne and Patrick McKay onstage at The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power panel in Hall H at the 2022 Comic-Con International held at the San Diego Convention Center on July 22, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images)

Stephen Colbert, JD Payne and Patrick McKay onstage at 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' panel at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con.

Michael Buckner/Variety/Getty Images

In one of the most anticipated panels of the weekend, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power kickstarted Day Two of Comic-Con to the fanfare of thousands of attendees in Hall H, who were eagerly awaiting more information on what to expect in the latest iteration of their beloved franchise. 

Surprising much of the crowd, The Rings of Power panel was hosted by none other than J.R.R. Tolkien superfan Stephen Colbert, who spent an hour and a half showcasing a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the Rings universe, ribbing fans about the novels’ appendices and quizzing fellow panelists about the series.

The panel was dense, featuring three different sets of actors taking the stage after a session with the show’s developers. The show also revealed several clips ranging from imprisoned elves rioting and fighting orcs to the hobbits’ ancestors awakening an incapacitated giant. There was also lots of Mordor-and-beyond world-building, showcasing the beautiful island kingdom Numenor before it would eventually fall.  Check out the full trailer released today below:

Right away, the panel seemed to be a campaign to win over Lord of the Rings superfans and prove the TV show’s creators are respecting this sacred franchise material (which Amazon, it should be noted, spent a fortune to acquire). When Colbert first appeared, he explicitly said he showed up as an ambassador to the LOTR fandom. Co-creator JD Payne snuck in several licks of elvish speak throughout his section of the panel.

“I’m looking forward to all the possibilities. I want to see Moria before the fall. How did Sauron fool them with his Annatar disguise?” Colbert told the large crowd before voicing his excitement of the show’s creative vision, lead by Payne and fellow co-creator Patrick McKay. “It can be challenging to have something you love taken on by someone new. I’m struck by their sincerity and their love of this world.”

Music has always been a major part of the Lord of the Rings series, and fittingly, Amazon started its panel with the Rings of Power composer Bear McCreary, who came out to showcase his works for the show conducting a live orchestra. In a brief chat with Colbert, McCreary said he took inspiration from Howard Shore’s original score for the LOTR trilogy and inflected some of his themes to fit the new age. (Shore also composed The Rings of Power’s theme song.)

When McKay and Payne took the stage alongside executive producer Lindsey Weber, McKay took a moment to acknowledge the feeling of revealing their show  to the thousands of fans in the audience. “Holy Shit,” McKay said to a chuckling crowd. “We are scared shitless right now.”

When Colbert asked about the daunting task of taking on a project that comes with a daunting, territorial fanbase, McKay acknowledged feeling some pressure but said it comes mostly from the creators, given that they’re fans as well.  “The honest-to-god truth is no one can put more pressure on us than ourselves,” McKay said. “We’ve been the fans who’ve been disappointed many times over. We don’t want to disappoint the fans.”

Eight years after the conclusion of the Hobbit prequel trilogy of the Lord of The Rings franchise, we’re going even further back into the history of Middle Earth, heading thousands of years before the events in the films to explore the world that have since fallen to ruin, the origins of the rings of power, Sauron’s reign before he was the ominous all-seeing eye, and more. 

“Amazon bought the rights to 10,000 years of middle earth history, we felt the second age is freaking awesome,” Payne said. “It’s the forging of the rings of power, the rise and fall of Sauron, the last glance of elves and men to come together to defeat Sauron.”

As McKay added: “We wanted to find a huge Tolkien-ian mega epic. “No BS, [Amazon] let us make the show we want to make.”

“How do you say ‘Oh, shit’ in elvish,'” Colbert quipped, before Payne seemed to jokingly give an answer.

Given the thousands’ years’-gap between the events of the show and films, The Rings of Power will feature previously unseen characters, including several who aren’t part of Tolkien’s canon. Some of the immortal elf characters like Elrond and Galadriel will be main characters, but the show will feature younger versions of the characters — so Cate Blanchett won’t reprise her role as Galadriel, nor will Hugo Weaving as Elrond. Instead, those roles will fall to Morfydd Clark and Robert Aramayo, respectively.  

Other new characters include Disa, the first female dwarf ever shown in the Lord of the Rings series. She is played by Sophia Nomvete.

“She’s relatable in so many ways, she’s a force of nature and a joy,” Nomvete said. “I auditioned for this role when I was two days away from giving birth. I got the call to say you will be flying the torch when my daughter was five days old. I stepped on a plane when she was eight weeks old.” She revealed that the costume she’s seen wearing in promo art was able to unravel from the shoulders so she could feed her daughter in between takes. “That’s the power of a female dwarf,” she said. 

The Rings of Power will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on September 2.

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