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The Rings Of Power Cast Teases What's To Come For Gil-Galad And The Southlands - Exclusive Interview

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" traces a sprawling cast of characters across the entire Middle-earth map. Set during the Second Age, thousands of years before the events of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit," Prime Video's series follows the first rise of Sauron before the Dark Lord lives in Mordor or even owns a Ring of Power.

Two key areas for "The Rings of Power" story are the northern Elven kingdom of Lindon, where the High Elven King Gil-galad rules, and the oddly familiar Southlands, where Arondir the Elf is stationed and the Humans Bronwyn and Theo dwell. We had a chance to sit down with a few of these cast members late in the summer, just days before the show premiered, to talk to them about their characters and some of the larger story arcs that we can expect to see unfold in the first season. Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn), Tyroe Muhafidin (Theo), Ismael Cruz Córdova (Arondir), and Benjamin Walker (Gil-galad) reflected on Elven leadership and teased the importance of the Southlands.

Theo's mysterious broken sword and Gil-galad's leadership

Tyroe, the broken sword from the trailer looks a lot like a Morgul-knife. It looks a lot like the Morgul-knife that the Witch-king uses to stab Frodo, except in reverse. It doesn't melt or dissolve; it comes back. Can you tell us anything else about what to expect from this? 

Tyroe Muhafidin: Well, what have we seen of it? I think in the trailers we've seen it grow. We've seen it broken, and there's a little history behind it. Theo wants to find the history behind it as well, and he's searching for those answers.

Ben, I have a quick quote for you. "Gil-galad was an Elven-king, of him the harpers sadly sing, the last whose realm was fair and free, between the mountains and the sea." We've seen a clip now that appears to show you pressuring Elrond to choose between friendship and his duty to his people. With that in mind, how does balancing doing what's right and making the politically tough decisions influence your portrayal of Gil-galad?

Benjamin Walker: Oftentimes, doing what's right is the hardest thing to do. That's one of the things I love about Gil-galad, is that he's lived long enough [and] had enough experience to know what's truly valuable and that peace comes at a cost. Like today, the rights that we take for granted need constant vigilance, constant work. If we do not protect free speech, it erodes, and he understands this.

I like to say that while everybody's at the party of peacetime, he's laying in bed staring at the ceiling, feeling the ever throbbing tentacles of evil multiplying. That's what makes him a good leader, but that's also what makes him a difficult leader, because he loves like a loving parent. "Go to bed. You'll understand when you're older." For a guy as old as Gil-galad, that really comes with some weight.

Ismael Cruz Córdova: I'm imagining Gil-galad sitting in bed, there's a push-in as Kate Bush is playing, and he's so worried.

Walker: [And a] single tear.

Human-Elvish politics and sinister Southland geography

Nazanin, the last time we talked, you and Ismael mentioned the complexity of the political situation between Elves and the Southlander Humans in particular. I have to follow up on that one. Are Elves seen in your people's eyes as the bad guys in this area?

Nazanin Boniadi: It's less about being the bad guys — it's more about being the occupiers, or like, "Just let us be. Our ancestors did something, it's been hundreds of years. Let it go." What we forget is that the human perception of time is so different from the Elven perception of time, because they're immortal and we're not. What to us is, "Oh, that was ages ago," is fresh in the minds of the Elves. With that comes this source of conflict of, "Let that go. It was a long time ago," and for them, it's very, very new.

A featurette last week on the Southlanders showed some significant footage with Bronwyn, Arondir, and Theo. It also quietly revealed that the Southlands in the show are part of Mordor and that they're right up there tucked under Orodruin, or Mount Doom. Since that much has been revealed, can you expound at all on the importance of that location and why they're in Mordor there?

Córdova: I'm going to leave the information that you have as is. The Southlands will reveal themselves and their importance in both metaphorical [terms], but also as a territory, in the episodes to come ... What you've seen is fair enough.

Walker: Don't be frustrated by that answer. Tomorrow you're going to go, "Oh, cool."

Boniadi: You'll get it.

Córdova: Yeah, I'd rather keep the magic for you and those gasp moments.

The first two episodes of "The Rings of Power" premiered on September 2. The rest of the eight-part first season airs in weekly episodes every Friday at 12 a.m. ET.

This interview was edited for clarity.