Perhaps one of the most anticipated genre television projects currently in production is Amazon’s epic (and epicly expensive) Middle Earth series which explores the time frame of several thousand years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings. It is also one of the upcoming projects that we know the least about as Amazon has kept a really tight lid on details about the series right down to not revealing names of characters who would be involved.
But earlier today the folks over at The One Ring dropped a report that peels back a bit of that secrecy, revealing a number of things about the production. Granted some of them may seem inconsequential to all but die hard fans (“Elves will have short hair!”). Some of the tidbits deal with the nuts and bolts of the production, which they are reporting wrapped this past April.
But there are a number of things within The One Ring’s report that do bare commenting on.
(Now in recent years, we have shied away from rumor reporting, given it often creates an echo chamber of false information that only leads to disappointed fans when the rumors don’t come to pass. However, The One Ring has been a solid source for Lord Of The Rings and Middle Earth-related news for more than two decades now, establishing their credentials during the period that Peter Jackson was in pre-production on his Lord Of The Rings trilogy. If these guys feel solid in their reporting, I am willing to give this the benefit of the doubt.)
The Silmarillion And Unfinished Tales
The biggest news is that the Tolkien Estate has broadened the license of material available to the show to include “elements & passages from The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. This is most likely due to the previously reported involvement of the Tolkien Estate and their happiness with the results that they are seeing.
Previously, it was assumed that the creative team was strictly limited to working from the story material that is presented in the appendices found at the back of The Return Of The King, the timeline giving a rough history of Middle Earth. Of course, since they were confined to only that material, other pieces of Tolkien’s writings, such as those found in The Silmarillion or Unfinished Tales that fleshed out those broad strokes, would be off limits, ultimately forcing the writers to invent different story details to fill in those gaps. And that is probably something that would not please fans. The fact that the show now has the way open to them to more fully tell these stories is a good thing as it will keep the show truer to Tolkien’s vision.
A New Celebrimbor
According to The One Ring, “Celebrimbor the ringmaker has been recast” and “Tom Budge was in that role.”
Interestingly, this bit of news does confirm that the character of Celebrimbor will be part of the series and will be featured in the first season. Given Celebrimbor’s importance as the one who learned the art of ring-forging from Sauron and forged the three Elven rings in secret away from him, it felt obvious that he would show up in the series, given that it is set during the time frame all of this is to take place. However, Amazon has yet to officially confirm ANY character’s name, so it is nice to have a character name tied to an actor’s name, albeit briefly.
Lenny Henry, Proto-Hobbit
Although we don’t get a character name for whomever British comic actor Lenny Henry will be playing, we do know that it will be a member of the race that will eventually become known as halflings or hobbits.
To dip briefly into the Tolkien lore, Hobbits and the Shire first came to the attention of the rest of the races of Middle Earth about a thousand years before the events of The Hobbit. How long had they been there before that? Who knows, as in the prologue to The Fellowship Of The Ring titled “Concerning Hobbits,” Tolkien wrote that Hobbits were not very concerned with recording to their own history. It is likely though, that the people who would eventually become hobbits came out of the unknown lands of the East, first settling in an area between the Misty Mountains and the forest of Greenwood the Great. They would move west over the Misty Mountains to the land that would become known as the Shire once evil began overtaking Greenwood as it transformed into what would become known as Mirkwood. Tolkien never stated when it was that the people who would become Hobbits initially journeyed out of the East, so it feels conceivable that they could have done this in Middle Earth’s Second Age, the timeframe of the Amazon show.
Since both The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings focuses so much on their hobbit characters, the race most likely seems tied to the idea of Middle Earth perhaps more strongly than any other thing about the tales in the general public’s mind. It is easy to see why the creators of the show would want to use that perception to more fully link what they are doing with those previous stories in the public’s mind. And while there is no specific mention of hobbits in Tolkien’s writings of the earlier Ages of Middle Earth, the fact that what is mentioned in the prologue to The Fellowship Of The Ring goes without a specific period in the history of Middle Earth gives the producers a nice loophole to use them without specifically violating Tolkien’s legerdemain.