Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings TV show is already generating buzz and it hasn’t even premiered yet. The highly anticipated adaptation of Middle Earth creator J.R.R. Tolkien’s earlier work The Silmarillion was announced years ago and is only now beginning to take shape. We’ve got a cast and several directors, but plot details are shrouded in secrecy (seriously, we're talking Marvel-level spoiler protection). With so little information released and a first season release on Amazon Prime Video drawing ever closer, we’re taking a look at our biggest unanswered questions about The Lord of the Rings.
Before we get into that, we do know when the series is expected to premiere. In August 2021, Amazon Prime's official Lord of the Rings Twitter page announced that the premiere date for the series is set for September 2, 2022. So we do know that, but these are some unanswered questions we still have about the highly anticipated TV show...
What Characters Are The Main Cast Playing?
We don’t really know which specific characters will be featured in The Lord of the Rings, aside from a younger version of Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel played by Morfydd Clark (His Dark Materials). Game of Thrones alums Robert Aramayo and Joseph Mawle were reportedly cast in lead roles, with the former playing Beldor and the latter playing series antagonist Oren. However, some fans are theorizing that these names (which don’t appear anywhere in the Tolkien canon) are simply placeholders to avoid possible spoilers.
It’s also possible that Amazon has created new characters specifically for the show. There is a precedent for this: Peter Jackson added Mirkwood elf Tauriel to The Hobbit movies, a character that never existed in Tolkien’s original novel. Considering the breadth of the Second Age, there are countless roles Robert Aramayo could potentially play.
A good deal of the Simiarillon’s account of the Second Age takes place in the ancient human kingdom of Númenor, so Robert Aramayo might take up the mantle of Aragorn’s ancestors. As for Joseph Mawle, Sauron is a main antagonist of the Second Age, but rumor has it that the future eye in the sky won’t appear until the second season. If that’s the case, Joseph Mawle could play a minion of Sauron who would set the stage for his master’s arrival in Season 2.
Will Any Familiar Characters Or Actors Make An Appearance?
The Second Age of The Silmarillion features several characters fans would recognize from the LOTR films, like Galadriel, Gandalf, Elrond, and Sauron. Galadriel is already confirmed to be appearing in Amazon’s adaptation, but she’s the only familiar name so far. Elrond and Gandalf have not been cast, nor have the show’s creators hinted at their appearance. It would make sense to include Elrond, since his character is fairly prevalent in The Silmarillion, but maybe not Gandalf. The wizard is only mentioned a few times under the name Olórin and isn’t directly involved with the main conflicts. Sauron might show up in Season 2, but he would look very different. The LOTR villain doesn’t lose his physical form and become a giant flaming eye until sometime in the Third Age.
Will Original LOTR Director Peter Jackson Be Involved In Later Seasons?
One could argue that the original LOTR films wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without director Peter Jackson, and they would probably be right. It stands to reason that any future Tolkien adaptations would want him on board, but according to Digital Spy, the New Zealand native won't be involved in Season 1. However, don’t rule Peter Jackson out just yet: Amazon already renewed The Lord of the Rings for a second season, and the show’s creators have previously stated that they’re interested in getting his input. If Peter Jackson takes a liking to Season 1, it’s possible he might bring his Middle Earth expertise to future seasons of The Lord of the Rings.
How True To The Source Material Will The Show Be?
Many fantasy fans have been disappointed by an adaptation’s liberties with its source material (Eragon, Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl... the list goes on). Luckily, it doesn’t seem like that will be the case for The Lord of the Rings. According to IndieWire, the Tolkien estate only gave Amazon the rights to the Second Age material in The Silmarillion. This discounts the First and Third Ages entirely. The Tolkien estate was particularly concerned about the Third Age, which is when the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy take place. That time period is one of the most fleshed out in the Tolkien canon, so it makes sense that the estate wouldn’t want Amazon to contradict it. This means that the writers will have to hew very closely to Tolkien’s work, lest they incur the estate’s wrath. Or close enough, at least, that we don’t get a repeat of the last season of Game of Thrones.
When Will The First Trailer For The Lord of the Rings TV Show Come Out?
So far, a trailer for The Lord of the Rings has not been announced. Considering that show is well into production, it’s possible that a trailer could arrive in late 2021. Amazon would probably give fans advance notice to build more hype, so hopefully we’ll get an update soon.
Will The Show Follow Multiple Timelines?
It’s been confirmed that The Lord of the Rings will cover events from the Second Age of Middle Earth. However, the Second Age spans 3,441 years, and The Lord of the Rings Season 1 will only contain 20 episodes. That’s a lot of ground to potentially cover. It’s possible that the writers could decide to switch back and forth between certain time periods in order to give viewers a better understanding of the vast scope of Tolkien’s universe. Multiple timelines would also keep events from early in the Second Age relevant to the viewers. If the show is trying to cover such a large span of time, anything that happened early on would be long forgotten after 3,441 years worth of television.
Why Is The Show’s Budget So Huge?
And you thought Game of Thrones was expensive. The Lord of the Rings Season 1 will reportedly cost an estimated $450 million. Yes, you read that right. By comparison, the last season of Game of Thrones - the previous record-holder for most expensive TV show - only cost $90 million. GOT Season 8 only had 6 episodes as opposed to The Lord of the Rings' 20 installments, but that’s still a massive jump in production costs. According to the producers, the cost is due to the amount of world-building the show will entail. There is a lot of world to build, but for $450 million? Hopefully, Amazon’s version of Middle Earth will be worth it.
These are just some of the big questions we have about the series. But with a premiere date set, we'll hopefully be getting more information in the coming months.