Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series has cast Game of Thrones actor Joseph Mawle as its villain. This highly-anticipated show will be directed by J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and written by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. No release date has been given, but production is set to begin in 2020.
Based off the iconic J.R.R. Tolkien-penned novels, the original Lord of the Rings franchise ran from 2001 to 2003 to great financial and critical success. The final film in the trilogy, The Return of the King, won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Several years later, director Peter Jackson took Tolkien’s prequel, The Hobbit, and stretched it out into a trilogy starring Martin Freeman. The Hobbit films saw diminishing box office returns and drew criticism for making one novel into three massive movies. Amazon’s foray into Middle Earth will be the first time The Lord of the Rings franchise will be made into a television series.
According to Deadline, Mawle has been cast as Oren. Very little is known about this character aside from the fact that he is the villain. Mawle is best known for playing Benjen Stark in Game of Thrones, the brother of Ned Stark who famously rescued Jon Snow (Kit Harington) beyond the Wall. Most details about the Lord of the Rings series are being kept secret, but two other casting announcements have been made: Will Poulter (The Maze Runner) as young hero Beldor and relative newcomer Markella Kavenagh as Tyra.
Amazon has high expectations for this series, aiming to fill the high-fantasy void left by the recently departed Game of Thrones. Reports have said Lord of the Rings’ budget could hit close to $1 billion after factoring in special effects and other production costs. Like the films, it will be shot in New Zealand, and it is said to take place before the events of Lord of the Rings, during Middle Earth’s Second Age.
After the disappointment of The Hobbit trilogy, it will be interesting to see if this new series can recapture the magic of the original films. The character names do not seem to hold any significance in previously established Middle Earth lore, indicating this will be a completely original story. For the fans who took issue with Jackson’s deviations and additions in The Hobbit films, this Amazon series could disappoint. However, Tolkien’s world is rich and filled with excellent storytelling possibilities, so there is a chance Lord of the Rings could win over those uncertain fans as well as gain new ones.