Amazon's planning to take it to the next level with its TV adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, sparing no expense. The series will film in New Zealand, the unofficial home of Middle Earth where Peter Jackson's acclaimed Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were also filmed. With an expected 20 episodes per season, there's a lot of anticipation for this prequel series to be good. However, that doesn't mean the series has to follow in the movies' footsteps.
After all, we live in an age where inclusion onscreen extends to gender-bent roles. Since the original Lord of the Rings trilogy skewed very heavily towards male characters, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers actress Robyn Malcolm argues that it should be a woman who plays Gandalf the Grey in Amazon's LOTR TV series.
New Zealand actress Robyn Malcolm had a minor role in Two Towers as Morwen, a character who didn't appear in J.R.R. Tolkien's books and was written specifically for the second film. Speaking with New Zealand publication Stuff, Malcolm says that it's about damn time a woman played Gandalf the Grey. and admits that she's tired of seeing these fantastical films be so focused on men.
Those old legends, those old mystical stories, they're so based within a patriarchal landscape. Why not look at the magic of a matrilineal world where the magical powerhouses are women?
That makes a lot of sense. As much as I loved Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, it's hard to ignore the fact that both trilogies were wholly testosterone-heavy. One of the primary female characters, Liv Tyler's Arwen, didn't get in on much of the action and was often relegated to the sidelines.
However, Robyn Malcolm wouldn't simply cast any actress in the role of Gandalf, who had famously been played by Sir Ian McKellen. No, she'd want someone who could carry the films with the presence of Cate Blanchett's Lord of the Rings character, Galadriel. In Malcolm's words:
You need actors who have got gravitas and a real lot of personal power and a bit of brilliant - and they'll take this in the absolute way that it's meant -- witchy poo energy, which those two have got and I aspire to.
In fact, some of Robyn Malcolm's top picks included Whoopi Goldberg, Desperate Housewives' Alfre Woodard, and Krypton actress Ann Ogbomo. The three actresses were among a group of nine that Malcolm had selected and posted to her Instagram.
All things considered, Robyn Malcolm has great taste in actresses, though she admits that if the Amazon series needed bigger names, they could always recruit Dame Judi Dench and other actresses of her caliber.
Or if you need a big star and somebody that everybody knows and everybody already thinks of in Ian McKellen terms, then of course you go to Dame Judi or Eileen Atkins or Maggie Smith.
Here's hoping the casting directors get wind of this story and consider giving the role of Gandalf to a woman. At the very least, Amazon's The Lord of the Rings could do with a lot more actresses in a variety of roles. With 20 episodes a season – which is a lot, considering Amazon's shows have historically capped off their seasons at ten episodes – and so much money there to make them all, there's really no excuse.
Amazon's The Lord of the Ring series doesn't have a release date yet, but it'll possibly be available to stream in 2021. The ambitious Amazon brokered a five-season deal, and the first two episodes are planned to be directed by J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) and will be set prior to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series.
In the meantime, there's plenty of TV to watch elsewhere in streaming, broadcast and cable, so be sure to check out our complete guide to every new and returning show premiering this fall.