The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is one of the most highly-anticipated TV series of the year. Streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, the fantasy series is set to take place during the Second Age of Middle-earth, making it a prequel to all the Lord of the Rings adventure movies we’ve seen thus far.
However, with the show including a comparatively more diverse cast than Peter Jackson’s original films, there has been racially-charged criticism and trolling from fans online — with several claiming that the inclusion of ethnically diverse actors was “forced diversity.” In a Vanity Fair interview released on February 10, the creators of the streaming service spin-off spoke out.
“It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like,” Lindsey Weber, an executive producer of the series, told the outlet. “Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together.”
Mariana Rios Maldonado, a Tolkien scholar, added, “Who are these people that feel so threatened or disgusted by the idea that an elf is Black or Latino or Asian?”
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Singer and actor Lenny Henry, who is also known for his illustrious comedy career, previously spoke about how the new series would be more diverse in comparison to the fantasy movie franchise in an interview with BBC Radio 4 in October 2021.
“What’s notable about this run of the books, it’s a prequel to the age that we’ve seen in the films and books,” he said. “It’s about the early days of the Shire and of Tolkien’s environment, so we’re an indigenous population of Harfoots, we’re hobbits but we’re called Harfoots. We’re multi-cultural, we’re a tribe not a race, so there are Black, Asian and brown, even Maori types within it.”
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres on Amazon Prime September 2, 2022.