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The cast of the new series 'Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power' showed up to Comic-Con in San Diego this year, where Yahoo Entertainment's Kevin Polowy got the scoop on how the cast bonded during shooting, and the importance of the overall diversity of the cast.
- It is here, Galadriel, the moment we feared.
KEVIN POLOWY: So, huge cast, but you guys spent a year and a half together--
MARKELLA KAVENAGH: Yes.
KEVIN POLOWY: --shooting this in New Zealand. What kind of bonding experience was that? I mean, you hear stories from the original trilogy, the hobbits all got matching tattoos. Did you guys get matching tattoos, by the way?
MARKELLA KAVENAGH: I was really close to getting one. Not that I know of, I don't think there are any, but I wouldn't rule it out. I mean, we'll see. We'll see.
KEVIN POLOWY: But what was the bonding experience like among you guys?
MARKELLA KAVENAGH: Well, we lived-- we lived so close together. We were there for nearly two years. And we'd have dinners together. We'd go around to people's places. We had karaoke nights. It was really-- we had to be each other's friends, family, and colleagues in a time where we couldn't get to each our actual real life friends and family and colleagues. So it was quite an experience. Really, really grateful for the camaraderie, for sure.
BENJAMIN WALKER: Because we were kind of stuck together in New Zealand, and I was there with my family, we became the home where everyone came and had Sunday lunch every Sunday. And when other people were away from their families, it was a way to kind of bond with your castmates, but also have that familial attention, and just feel like a person. So that's an honor to do. I mean, they're all nice people, and I enjoyed hosting.
NAZANIN BONLADI: To be in New Zealand-- if you're going to be stuck anywhere, let it be New Zealand. And we understand how blessed we are, because we, at one point were the only show in the world that was filming, because we were in the safe haven that was New Zealand at the time there was no COVID there. So we are very, very fortunate.
And because of the pandemic, the island was shut off from visitors. So we didn't get to leave the Island or come back, you know, or have visitors. So basically we were stuck there for a good part of two years. And we had to lean on each other and depend on each other. So by default we became family. And, you know, and that's what a fellowship is, is people who have to sort of support each other through an adventure.
TYROE MUHAFIDIN: Every Sunday we'd go for dinners and things like that, and we'd always socialize, because we were sort of the only people we had. And we were all really, really there for each other in times that we needed each other. And it was really great. I was actually quite lucky because under 18 I'm allowed a chaperone, so I brought my mother along with me. And she kind of ended up being everyone else's mom.
MEGAN RICHARDS: We had to become, not just each other's colleagues, but friends and family and support systems. And it really did ring true. I have such a love for this cast, and I really hold them deeply within my heart. And we would have, like, dinners together, where like, 20 of us would try and like, get a table, which is impossible in a restaurant. You know, just so many things like that. And, you know, we'd like, go on holidays together or we'd have, like, Sunday lunches. And, yeah, no, we were really, really close.
LEON WADHAM: Yeah, there's a true fellowship, no question. So many people came from all over the world and spent a lot of time far from their homes to make this. And I think that encouraged a strong bond. They had to create a family. Whereas I am an Aucklander? I was shooting in my home. And I didn't start until the midpoint because it took the first half of the shoot to build Numenor. So by the time I met everyone, they were already a family, and they invited me in.
BENJAMIN WALKER: This is going to be the most eclectic fellowship we've ever seen, right. It feels like the series is progressing, when it comes to ethnicity, when it comes to gender. I mean, how much of a sort of like point of pride was that for you guys, as creators of this series to sort of-- to bring new faces and a new world into this world that's created, that's existed for so long, but we've never seen look quite like this?
CYNTHIA ADDAI-ROBINSON: It's a huge point of pride. I mean, I think we're talking about a global show and a global audience. This is now the reality. This is not about taking the narrow view. And, to me, this is about inviting people in and being expansive. And if you're going to tell this story in 2022, this, to me, feels like the only way to tell it, the only way to represent it. And I think people are going to be really happy.
They've been hungry to sort of see full representation in this world. Because at the end of the day, this story is very much about people of all different backgrounds coming together for a common cause, to fight the common enemy, and that very much relates to where we're at today. So that, to me, is just, like, the natural progression of things. It's just what I would expect it to be.
MARKELLA KAVENAGH: It's just, you know, really exciting to have-- for it to be more representative of the world that we live in. And I just hope that the industry, not just our show, but the industry just continues to become more inclusive and representative of the world we live in. So I'm really grateful to be a part of that.
NAZANIN BONLADI: Every woman has agency on this show. Every female character has-- is not there to serve the male characters around her. But every one of us has autonomy in our storylines. I am not only the mother of a rebellious teenage son or in a forbidden romance with an elf, the very handsome Ismael Cruz Cordova, but I also am a healer and a leader of sorts in my own right.
MEGAN RICHARDS: It's just nice. It's just such an inclusive atmosphere. And, I mean, I can't even-- I can't wait for the time when that's not even a question anymore, you know. Like, it's just so nice that the modern world that we're living in today, it really is reflected within in the world that Jodie and Patrick have created.
NAZANIN BONLADI: I never, in a million years, thought that I would be in something like this. And now we're hoping that when people watch Arondir and Bronwyn fall in love on screen that they can see a Afro-Latino man and a Middle Eastern woman fall in love and have a love story, and be romantic leads, and in this genre. And that means the world to both of us, and all the people of-- marginalized people in our cast.
KEVIN POLOWY: Despite, you know, "Rings of Power" taking place in the Tolkien universe, fantasy world long ago with creatures of all types, there's a lot of themes that are going to be relevant to what is actually happening in the real world. Like, what can you say about that aspect? Like, what is it about the show that reminds you of the reality that we all live in?
CHARLIE VICKERS: We all live with. Well, I think that's the beautiful thing about Tolkien is that the essence of his work, sort of will forever be related to what we go through, and what endures in human life. There are stories within the show that are stories of hope and stories of love and stories of loss, and the fight between good and bad. And I think that within this vast world of high fantasy, it's these human stories that sort bring you in and really make you feel things when you watch the show.
BENJAMIN WALKER: There are a lot of connections you can draw between refugees or the climate crisis. But I don't-- that's not the intention of the show. It's just Tolkien. He understood the human experience in a deep way, and that translates into his work.
TYROE MUHAFIDIN: Just sort of those ideas of, like, family, friendship, you know, sticking with the people you know and you love, and no matter what goes on, they're always going to be there for you.
LEON WADHAM: Certainly in Numenor there is a hunger for legacy at all costs. And I don't know how much more I can reveal about that, but certainly ambitious to a fault is something that is said about the people of Numenor. They're really proud. They have big dreams. They want to leave an imprint on this land before their time on Earth is over. And not everyone on that island knows where to draw the line.
- There can be no trust between hammer and rock. Eventually one or the other, or she'll be back.