Elijah Wood knows a thing or two about The Lord of the Rings. Having starred in all three of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films, Wood probably familiarized himself with the source material by J.R.R. Tolkien (though not as much as his co-star and avowed Tolkien scholar Christopher Lee), which spanned the eponymous trilogy as well as The Hobbit prequel and The Silmarillion mythopoeic collection. So Wood is more than a little in the right when he calls the titling of Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series “bizarre.”
In a recent interview with Empire (via JoBlo), Wood took issue with Amazon calling its new Middle-earth series by the title Lord of the Rings, which doesn’t seem to be accurate to the new show’s setting and story. Wood said:
“I find it bizarre that they’re calling it Lord Of The Rings as a shorthand, because it’s not Lord Of The Rings! It takes place in the Second Age of Middle-earth. I am fascinated by what they’re doing with the show. They’re calling it The Lord Of The Rings, but I think that’s slightly misleading. From what I understand, the material they are working on exists chronologically further back in history in lore of Lord Of The Rings or Middle Earth than any characters represented in Lord Of The Rings. It sounds more Silmarillion era. Not to get nerdy, but it’s the Second Age of Middle Earth.”
It may sound like nitpicking, but in this case, Wood is right on the money. The Lord of the Rings refers to the trilogy written by Tolkien containing the novels The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, which Jackson adapted in the film trilogy starring Wood. But Amazon’s series takes place during the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit. Wood is right: it’s an era that’s covered in The Silmarillion, chronicling the forging of the rings and the One Ring to rule them all, as well as Sauron’s rise to power.
Early last year, Amazon released a teaser map and crew video announcing that the Lord of the Rings series would take place during the Second Age of Middle-earth, indicating that Numenor — never before making an appearance in the film adaptations — would be the central location. Judging by the prominence of Numenor and the timeline of the rise of Sauron, it seems likely that the series will tackle the war of the elves and Sauron, the great war fought in the mid-Second Age in Middle-earth, which ended with Sauron’s defeat and his expulsion from Eriador.
But it’s not surprising that Amazon would name its series after the recognizable IP like Lord of the Rings. It is, after all, the company’s most ambitious and expensive original project yet, with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom filmmaker J.A. Bayona directing the first two episodes of the planned five-season series, and J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay showrunning and executive producing. Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series mostly features a cast of newcomers that include Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, and Daniel Weyman, but Wood wouldn’t rule out appearing in the series too — if there was a place for him.
“If there was a world where that made sense and organic to what they’re doing, then yes,” Wood said. “Look, any excuse to get to go to New Zealand to work on something, I am absolutely there.”
Considering the show’s setting, as Wood pointed out, that’s unlikely. But let’s not rule out a flash forward to warm audiences up to the new series.
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Author: Hoai-Tran Bui
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February 17, 2021