The cult Lord of the Rings character finally getting their moment in the sun

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is going deep into JRR Tolkien’s treasure trove to finally shed light on a cult character who has – until now – been omitted from every other screen adaptation of the author’s popular fantasy books.

Season two of Amazon’s big-budget TV series, which is set in Tolkien’s fantasy world centuries before the events of The Lord of the Rings, will welcome Tom Bombadil, played by Rory Kinnear (The Imitation Game).

Tom was first introduced in print in Tolkien’s 1934 poem “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil”. Described in the text as “older than the old”, he was characterized as an offbeat, good-natured entity who is the first being to exist in Middle Earth.

“There’s a reason why he hasn’t been in prior adaptations, because in some ways he’s sort of an anti-dramatic character,” The Rings of Power showrunner JD Payne told Vanity Fair in an exclusive first look.

“He’s not a character who has a particularly strong agenda. He observes drama, but largely doesn’t participate in it. In The Fellowship of the Ring, the characters kind of just go there and hang out for a while, and Tom drops some knowledge on them.”

“Knowledge that’s not particularly relevant to anything that they’re doing or about to do,” showrunner Patrick McKay added.

In exclusive photos published by VF, Kinnear is shown in character with a straight face, wearing a brown wizard cap, a light blue cape and an overgrown brown beard.

Several fans have reacted skeptically to the photos, with one arguing that Tom “would never have such a serious expression such as this”.

“The fact that our first official image is of him completely straight-faced instead of smiling isn’t a good sign,” another added.

Payne acknowledged that while “[Tom] can be a force for good”, the challenge was in how to integrate him dramatically, especially when he doesn’t have an agenda. “He’s not driving forward and pushing people to arrive at any particular end,” he explained.

“We started thinking, What does he care about? And how can that be a doorway to drama?” Payne added. “We know he cares about the natural world. And we know he is a helper. He’s not going to push you, but he will help you. And so, traditionally, he lives in this place called the Withywindle, which is this sort of almost enchanted forest.”

Season two of ‘The Rings of Power’ will premiere on 29 August (Courtesy of Prime Video)
Season two of ‘The Rings of Power’ will premiere on 29 August (Courtesy of Prime Video)

Payne and McKay instead took creative liberty to place his home in a region called Rhûn, where The Rings of Power’s second season will see the hobbits Nori (Markella Kavenagh) and Poppy (Megan Richards) guide the Stranger (Daniel Weyman), the amnesic wizard unveiled at the end of season one.

“We learn [Rhûn] used to be sort of Edenic and green and beautiful, but now is sort of a dead wasteland,” Payne said. “Tom has gone out there to see what’s happened as he goes on his various wanderings.”

“When he finally crosses paths with the Stranger, you could say he has a desire to try to keep the destruction that has happened there from spreading to his beloved lands in the West. He nudges the Stranger along his journey, which he knows will eventually protect the larger natural world that he cares about. So I’d say our Tom Bombadil is slightly more interventionist than you see in the books, but only by 5 percent or 10 percent.”

Season two of The Rings of Power premieres on Amazon’s Prime Video on 29 August.