The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiered last week, and introduced us to quite the slew of characters from Elves and men to Dwarves and Harfoots. Set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, the Lord of the Rings series takes viewers to "an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien's pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness."
The epic series has been renewed for Season 2 in advance of its premiere, with a plan for at least five seasons. Heading into Episode 3 of the show, a lot is up in the air. Though the premiere brought us to lands from the Elven realm of Lindon to the Dwarven kingdom of Khazad-dum, there's one major location we haven't seen yet: Numenor. "Numenor is the fabled greatest kingdom of men that ever existed in Middle-earth's history," co-showrunner Patrick McKay told TV Guide ahead of the series premiere. "It is Tolkien's Atlantis, and it is one of the things we're very excited to get to in the show."
Co-showrunner JD Payne expanded on the location's significance. "People who know the Second Age know that this is the story of the forging of the Rings of Power, the rise of Sauron, and the truth of the tail of Numenor which has a tragic end, and then the Last Alliance of Elves and Men," Payne explained. "In this season, we're getting to start to explore some of the fissures in Numenorean society that might be ripe for exploitation by the forces of darkness in times to come."
We're eager to see Numenor and its inhabitants. Until then, here's everything we know about The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power including its airing schedule on Amazon Prime Video, its cast, and the latest news.
On Sept. 8, the cast of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power posted a statement across social media denouncing racism. Since the cast was announced, actors of color have received racist comments from viewers unhappy with the show's diversity.
"We, the cast of Rings of Power, stand together in absolute solidarity and against the relentless racism, threats, harassment, and abuse some of our castmates of color are being subject to on a daily basis," the statement read. "JRR Tolkien created a world which, by definition, is multi-cultural. A world in which free peoples from different races and cultures join together, in fellowship, to defeat the forces of evil. Rings of Power reflects that. Our world has never been all white, fantasy has never been all white. Middle-earth is not all white. BIPOC belong in Middle-earth and they are here to stay."
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres Friday, Sept. 2 on Amazon Prime Video. Two episodes will be released on the premiere date, followed by a one-episode-per-week release schedule afterward. Season 1 of the show will be eight episodes total, and the finale is scheduled to air on Oct. 14. New episodes will drop at midnight ET on Fridays.
TV critics have already gotten the chance to screen the first two episodes, and they're taking to Twitter to share their initial reactions. So far, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, with a few negative caveats about the episodes being a little slow or hard to follow. Besides that, critics have been wowed by the new series, which ups the anticipation for the rest of us who have to wait for the release date.
A brand new trailer dropped on Aug. 23, confirming that Amazon Studios spared no expense on the scope and grandeur of the series that's more like a cinematic masterpiece.
During the show's San Diego Comic-Con panel on July 22, a new trailer was released for the series that shocked even panel moderator and Tolkein expert Stephen Colbert, who said he didn't even know who some of the characters were.
Amazon dropped the main teaser for The Rings of Power on July 14. It featured a tense conversation between Robert Aramayo's Elrond and Clark's Galadriel where Elrond tells Galadriel to "put up the sword," saying she has fought long enough. But Galadriel says the enemy is still out there. "You have not seen what I have seen," she emphasizes. And a shot of bodies floating in front of a fiery land is played — seemingly a premonition of what could happen to Middle-earth.
On July 8, Amazon shared a teaser for the series along with new photos. The video gave a closer look at Middle-earth, as characters from Clark's Galadriel to Ismael Cruz Córdova's Arondir stared at the sky.
Amazon dropped the first trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power during Super Bowl LVI. The clip included glimpses of Aramayo as the half-Elven, half-human Elrond, Owain Arthur as the dwarven prince Durin IV, and Clark as Galadriel.
On Feb. 3, the show's official Twitter account shared nearly two dozen teaser posters, zoomed in on what appear to be the hands of key characters from the show. Some of these hands hold weapons, from a metal hammer to a broken sword. Others hold food, like acorns and an apple. The photos also show the different clothing worn by each individual, from golden armor to dirty tunics. See some of the images below, and more on the official The Rings of Power Twitter account.
On Jan. 19, Amazon revealed the official title of the new series with an intensely cool video (that could make for a potential opening credits sequence). The series is called The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The narrator of the teaser — who seems to be Welsh actress Morfydd Clark, who plays young Galadriel — also clues in viewers to how many rings we are dealing with in this prequel series. "Three rings for the elven kings under the sky. Seven for the dwarf lords in their holes of stone. Nine for mortal men, doomed to die. One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne in the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie," she says. Sounds very ominous indeed! The title confirms that the show will focus on Sauron's rise to power, which involved forging 20 rings in order to take control of Middle-earth.
A Game of Thrones alum will lead the series. Robert Aramayo, who played young Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, is set to star. He replaces Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Midsommaractor Will Poulter, who dropped out over a scheduling conflict. Aramayo plays Elrond, the elf ruler.
Amazon confirmed in January 2020 that Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Daniel Weyman, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, and Markella Kavenagh had officially joined the series.
In December 2020, Amazon announced even more cast members. These included Maxim Baldry, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, newcomer Ian Blackburn, Kip Chapman, Anthony Crum, Maxine Cunliffe, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Thusitha Jayasundera, Fabian McCallum, Simon Merrells, Geoff Morrell, Peter Mullan, Lloyd Owen, Augustus Prew, Peter Tait, Alex Tarrant, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, and Sara Zwangobani.
Check out our character guide for 21 main characters in the series.
But Galadriel and Elrond will. Variety reported in 2019 that His Dark Materials actress Morfydd Clark had been tapped to portray the younger version of Cate Blanchett's character in the Peter Jackson films, and Rob Aramayo is playing a younger version of Elrond, the character played by Hugo Weaving. And there are sure to be many more film references, as the Second Age was centered around the defeat of Sauron.
The new series will feature non-canonical characters, but Tolkein fans need not worry. At the show's first Comic-Con panel, the creative team promised that they worked with Tolkein scholars, linguists, and lore masters in the writers room to make sure that the new characters fit into the world of Lord of the Rings. That includes Harfoots, a breed of dwarf Tolkein only wrote two "tantalizing" paragraphs about, and the first ever female dwarf, Disa (Nomvete), who will have a beard and is married to Durin (Arthur).
Whenever there was a question during the writing process, the answer was always, "Go back to the book, go back to the book, go back to the book," to dissect whatever clues Tolkein offered about the Second Age. Fans will also get to see the city of Numenor, which fell at the end of the Second Age, on screen for the very first time.
As for The Stranger, played by Daniel Weyman, he is designed to be a mystery that will unfold over the course of the series. He'll likely be revealed as someone the audience is familiar with (Gandalf or Sauron?), but for now, he is simply The Stranger.
It's coming from fantasy and sci-fi heavy hitters. JD Payne and Patrick McKay, who previously worked on Star Trek 4, have been tapped to helm the series, and Game of Thrones writer and producer Bryan Cogman has signed on to consult on the series. The creative team will also include executive producers Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire), and Sharon Tal Yguado, along with writers Gennifer Hutchinson (Breaking Bad), Jason Cahill (The Sopranos), and Jason Doble (Stranger Things). Stephany Folsom (Toy Story 4) joins Cogman as a consulting producer, while Ron Ames and Helen Shang (Hannibal) will also produce. Kate Hawley has been chosen as the series' costume designer, while Rick Henrichs joins as production designer, and Jason Smith supervises visual effects, per Variety.
The first two episodes have an exciting director. Juan Antonio (J.A.) Bayona has been hired to direct the first two episodes of the series, Deadline reports. In a statement, Bayona said of the news, "J.R.R. Tolkien created one of the most extraordinary and inspiring stories of all time, and as a lifelong fan it is an honor and a joy to join this amazing team. I can't wait to take audiences around the world to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never before seen story." His directing credits include Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Impossible, The Orphanage, and episodes of Penny Dreadful.
Peter Jackson isn't involved. The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit director confirmed to French press outlets that he is not involved in Amazon's new series.
It's already renewed for Season 2. Amazon announced in November 2019 that it had renewed the series for a second season after filming only two episodes of Season 1. Production then went on a hiatus so the bulk of Season 2 could be written. Given that Amazon reportedly committed to multiple seasons of this prequel series when it acquired the rights to Lord of the Rings (with an option for a potential spin-off), it sounds like this is just the beginning of a whole lot more Lord of the Rings content.
During the show's Comic-Con panel on July 22, 2022, Payne and McKay revealed that Amazon bought the rights to 10,000 years of Middle-earth history, and basically allowed them to choose where they wanted to set their show. They planned for a 50-hour story about the Second Age, but with such a vast era of time to work with, it means there are many more stories available for Amazon to tell.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres Friday, Sept. 2 on Amazon Prime Video with two episodes, and new episodes will debut weekly.
The Peter Jackson films (and the extended editions) are currently streaming on HBO Max.