The cast of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power issued a statement Wednesday denouncing threats, harassment and racism faced by actors of color committed by people who speak out about the racial diversity of Middle-earth had complained in the series.
The cast said their show, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video last week, reflects the multicultural world envisioned by The Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien.
Unlike the original The Lord of the Rings films, the Amazon series is set in the second age of Middle-earth and features prominent actors in roles such as an elf soldier, a regent, harfoots (ancestors of the hobbits) and a dwarf princess.
“Our world has never been entirely white, fantasy has never been entirely white, Middle-earth is not entirely white,” the cast said in the statement, while thanking their fans for their support. “BIPOC belong in Middle-earth and they are here to stay.”
The statement comes at a time when the show has faced some backlash over its casting decision from people who say the characters depicted in the show are different than what they had envisioned in Tolkien’s books. In his books, some elves are described as having fair skin and long hair.
Other black actors in fantasy series have also been targeted by online trolls.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is widely recognized as the most expensive television series produced, with Amazon spending an estimated more than $700 million on the first season, including purchasing the rights to adapt The Lord of the Rings “. ‘ and ‘The Hobbit’ for TV, sources say. The first season of the series is based on the appendices in The Return of the King and centers around Elf Galadriel’s quest to eradicate evil from Middle-earth.
More than 25 million people tuned in to watch the show on day one, Amazon said. The company has marketed the show widely, including on the packing tape of Amazon Prime delivery boxes.
Amazon Studios executives have stood by the cast.
“We support our cast 100% and stand behind them in every way,” Jennifer Salke said in a statement last week. “We’re proud of them as actors and even prouder of them as people. We welcome discussions and even criticism around the series, but we do not condone racism in any way.”
The original The Lord of the Rings films, directed by Peter Jackson, had mostly white males in key roles, including Frodo the Hobbit, Gandalf the Wizard and the elf warrior Legolas. Some of the cast from the original films tweeted their support.
The show has also generated some controversy over how it has handled the stories of popular characters such as Elf Galadriel, who is portrayed in the show as commanding the armies of the north.
“Her name suggests that she wrapped her hair in a gold crown on her head when she was training, which told us she was actually a soldier and saw a battle,” said Lindsey Weber, an executive producer of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” in an interview last month.
Weber said that the first season and the series “Bible” were blessed by the Tolkien estate.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-09-07/lat-et-ct-lord-of-the-rings-rings-of-power-racism The Lord of the Rings cast denounces threats on nonwhite cast