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Why The Rings Of Power's Peter Mullan Didn't Read Any Tolkien Before Playing Durin III

Peter Mullan is a veteran of the film industry. The Scottish actor is known for his role in films including "War Horse," "Children of Men," and "The Magdalene Sisters." His somber acting style, deep voice, and Scottish brogue also make him the perfect candidate for a Dwarven king in Middle-earth — which is precisely the role he played in Season 1 of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

Mullan plays King Durin III, whose stoic and conservative leadership of the thriving Second Age kingdom of Khazad-dûm set the stage for the destructive events that are to follow via war and fire. While Mullan's portrayal was as convincing as anyone else's on the show, though, the actor revealed in a recent interview that he didn't read a lick of J. R. R. Tolkien's source material before the camera started rolling.

This wasn't wilful ignorance, though, but rather part of his acting style. He began by clarifying that he didn't read the source material "because it was all a prequel – or it was all based on footnotes and stuff." He went on to detail, "Anytime I've done anything that was an adaptation of a book, I would never read the book beforehand. It's not to be willfully ignorant by any means; it's that you are working on the script. I know other actors wouldn't feel this way, but for me, you have to work within [the boundaries]." 

Earlier, Mullan had pointed out that he hadn't even seen the full scripts, just those for the scenes that he was in, making each scene akin to working in a complete vacuum.

Playing monkey golf in Middle-earth

To demonstrate how he approached his role, Peter Mullan brought up the interesting example of monkey-infused golf. "There's an age-old thing where, when they played golf, the monkeys used to come and pick the balls up and throw them all over the place. They established a kind of rule in their playing of golf, which was that wherever the monkey drops the ball is where you play." This kind of playing despite — or one could say along with — your environment is how Mullan approached the blind acting he did for the show.

"It was the same thing here," he continued. "Wherever the monkey dropped the ball, you just have to play. You may argue with it, you might not like it, but the bottom line is it's where the monkey dropped the ball. That's how I approached this." Mullan added that his acting background in the art house helped, explaining that he's no stranger to working without a broader context when playing his roles. "It's not difficult," he explained. "The gods of Amazon, I'm sure, would've been grateful that they didn't have an actor kicking up about it. I could have kicked up about it, but I couldn't care less. They got very lucky in me."

Mullan may not have researched his role beforehand, but it's hard to argue with the results. The actor performed his part to perfection. His aged, ponderous, and cautious approach to ruling his people was the perfect antithesis to his headstrong son Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur) and Princess Disa (Sophia Nomvete). It will be interesting to see where that fractured relationship goes in Season 2, but one thing is clear. Mullan won't be reading ahead for any spoilers.