Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Rings Of Power's Harfoot Actresses Talk Middle-Earth Magic And Threats - Exclusive Interview

The story of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" goes all over the Middle-earth map. Most of the areas that it's visited are well-established realms in Tolkien's legendarium. Khazad-dûm has a rich and prosperous Second Age history. Lindon is a famous Elven haven. Eregion is a critical part of Tolkien's Rings of Power narrative. The island of Númenor is where the author's beloved Atlantian tragedy of Men takes place, and Aragorn gets his claim to the throne of Gondor.

Even the Southlands, which is populated by characters made up for "The Rings of Power," still has a critical part to play, since it lies smack dab in the same location that eventually becomes Sauron's future stronghold. Everywhere you turn, there are essential geographic and cultural areas on the "Rings of Power" map. These heavily draw on the source material, and showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay are clearly using them to embellish their Middle-earth adaptation.

Then there are the Harfoots. Located in Rhovanion, this subplot of the show's multi-faceted storyline is isolated in the eastern portions of the map, is disconnected from everything else, and has little to no source material to inform how it should look or feel. Apart from a few notes in the prologue to "The Fellowship of the Ring," the Harfoots (and Hobbit history as a whole) are barely mentioned in Tolkien's writings. This has left a mostly blank canvas for the show's creators to draw on. We recently sat down with Harfoot actresses Megan Richards, Markella Kavenagh, and Sara Zwangobani (Poppy Proudfellow, Nori Brandyfoot, and Marigold Brandyfoot, respectively) to dig into the Harfoot world created for the show and find some connections between the Little People of "The Rings of Power" and the later Hobbits of the Shire that we know and love so well.

Sara Zwangobani dishes on the dangers threatening Harfoots

Sara, at this stage in Halfling history, you don't have the pleasant Shire guarded by the Rangers and all that stuff going on yet. You guys are all on your own. What kind of dangers can we expect Harfoots to face in Season 1? What kind of things are threatening them?

Sara Zwangobani: I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that they are definitely world-wary. In response to a great war that came before, they have retreated from the world, and they keep themselves hidden. They keep themselves on the move because the nature of their own existence relies on moving with the seasons and surviving that way, carrying their homes with them on their backs in those amazing carts that they have. As for dangers, well, as Megan often says, they're the bottom of the food chain. What doesn't threaten them?

Megan Richards: It's everything.

Zwangobani: It's everything, yeah. Basically, it's everything that threatens them, but their magic skill is remaining hidden. That's where their magic truly lies. They've done that very well for generations and ... that's their number-one survival skill. They're also pretty handy with some other things that you might see later on in the season, but staying hidden is the number-one thing that keeps them safe.

That's one of the main Hobbit attributes later on, right? Staying hidden and out of sight.

Zwangobani: Yep.

Markella Kavenagh gives her take on magic in The Rings of Power

Markella, you encounter Daniel Weyman's mysterious character, which everyone's calling the Stranger or "Meteor Man" — the Tolkien fan base is all about Meteor Man. From what we've seen, it seems like the Stranger will be interacting with the Harfoots a lot. He also has been shown displaying some mystical, magical properties — different kinds at different points. Can you give us a little more of an idea of what magic looks like and how it functions in J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay's version of Middle-earth?

Markella Kavenagh: Really early on, Rob Aramayo and I had a conversation around this, around magic and what it symbolizes in Middle-earth and Tolkien's intention with it. Something that I've been thinking about a lot recently is it's actually — and I'm sure I'm really wrong about this, and I'm sure there'll be plenty of people to correct me and talk about this in an even more intellectual way — but something that I've been thinking about a lot is, actually, it's transferring energies. When Nori meets the Stranger, they have this real, intense, palpable connection. The Stranger's energy goes into the earth through stones and fire, transferring that through eye-to-eye contact with Nori, which leads her to hold him and connect with him. Then that energy transfers through and surpasses and goes through her arms and goes through her eyes [to help] him calm down and calm down the energy that is the environment around them. I feel like there's a magical quality in that as well. You'll see that throughout the next few episodes. The way that they interact with each other is that, especially because ... Oh, I was just about to spoil something.

Zwangobani: I was thinking, "I wonder if I should ... I wonder where she's going with this." I could feel it, yeah.

Kavenagh: I was going to spoil something. Horrible.

Zwangobani: Yeah, good save.

Kavenagh: What I will say to you is that they have to find a way to ... They express their fears and their needs in very different ways. The way that energy passes and moves through them has a quality to it that is otherworldly. And that, I feel like, is quite magical. It's those moments where you don't have to speak necessarily, but you have to communicate in a certain way. I think it's through the energies.

Megan Richards provides insights on the Harfoot diet

Megan, food is very important for Hobbits of the Shire, way in the future. You're technically all Harfoots here, but that tendency's got to be in the DNA somewhere, so how does food factor into Harfoot life? What does their diet look like? What do they like to eat? Do they like to eat yet? How does that look?

Richards: Yeah, they love to eat. Poppy loves to eat too — fruits, berries. You see maybe a couple of animals here and there. Also, the Harfoots migrate, and they migrate through the seasons. The reason they migrate through seasons is to follow the food. That's really interesting. [It] depend[s] on where they are, depend[s] on the natural landscape around them and their surroundings, depends on what's there too. ... There's snails. There's a lot of things. They also have tarts and things. Whenever there's a celebration, they do really make an effort. They have parties and things, so you'll get to see a lot of that too.

Kavenagh: You can never go wrong with inviting a Harfoot to a party.

Zwangobani: Yeah.

Richards: No, you can never go wrong, except they might eat everything.

Dylan Smith (Largo Brandyfoot) is a cheerleader in real life too

Do any of you have any fun behind-the-scenes stories that you have not shared yet with anyone?

Zwangobani: There's a lot of fun behind-the-scenes stories.

Richards: That we haven't shared?

Zwangobani: Oh, gosh. Well, I always think of one of Dylan [Smith] at the festival, but I think I've shared that one.

Richards: What's the one of Dylan at the festival?

Zwangobani: Where he's cheering up every single person in the whole cast, except for himself, to perform. [Marigold's] husband is a cheerleader, and so he cheers and leads everybody and cheers everybody up. Then I'm like, "Dude, you have to act now, and you've just exhausted yourself!" So he's like ...

Kavenagh: There's so many funny ones of Dylan as well, because he's so hilarious.

Zwangobani: He's very enthusiastic.

Richards: He is so enthusiastic and charismatic.

Kavenagh: He's very enthusiastic. There's a montage that we had to film where we're pushing the carts in this kind of dam. It's literally a montage of five seconds, but he gave so much to it, and he was screaming, really going at it. Then Wayne turns around [and] is like, "You do know it's going to be silent." Do you remember that? And he's like, "Oh. Oh. Oh."

Richards: "Okay," but still did it.

Check out more Harfoot adventures in "The Rings of Power." The show is releasing weekly episodes on Fridays at 12 a.m. ET on Prime Video.

This interview has been edited for clarity.