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The Rings Of Power's Ismael Cruz Córdova On Bringing A Non-Royal Elf To The Screen

There are many things that make "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" worth watching. JD Payne and Patrick McKay's adaptation brings Middle-earth to life in new and exciting ways, including a stand-out performance from Ismael Cruz Córdova as the Elf Arondir. The proudly Puerto Rican actor delivers an inspiring portrayal of an Elf navigating the unfolding drama of the Second Age of J. R. R. Tolkien's world.

While captivating, Córdova's character isn't what most folks expect when they see an ethereal Elf from Middle-earth. Arondir is gritty and unassuming — a fact that the actor addressed in an interview with Gold Derby. When asked what he did to balance past Elvish precedents with his own creation, the actor started by talking about how the influence of different interpretations, folklore, and previous cinematic adaptations set the tone. Nevertheless, he had to take into account the past while also considering what part of his own representation and experiences he was bringing into building his own version of this classic Elf concept.

This led to the creation of what Córdova referred to as a different kind of Elf. This is more than just a reference to the personal perspective of the different actors bringing these characters to life. It's talking about variations between Elves within the source material, and the actor dug into the lore behind the show to elaborate by saying, "He is a different kind of Elf that we haven't seen before. It's the hierarchy of the Elves, that you see that there is actually lower hierarchy Elves. They're more populist, frontline soldiers. It's not just — what we're used to seeing is royals. You don't realize that it's all royals. Even Legolas, it's a royal. I think this is one of the first times that you see an Elf from the bunch, essentially. A poor Elf's Elf."

Córdova is creating a new take on a classic character type

The concept of an Elven hierarchy is well-established in Tolkienian lore. Most Elven realms have kings who inherit their authority and rule in a wise yet admittedly autocratic manner. In "The Lord of the Rings," most of the primary Elves are royalty. Elrond and Arwen are descended from kings and queens. Legolas is the Prince of the Elven realm in Mirkwood. Galadriel has an ancient pedigree so royal, it makes everyone else feel like peasants.

In contrast, Arondir is a mere commoner. He worked as a grower before transitioning to the life of a soldier. There's nothing fancy or regal about him, and Ismael Cruz Córdova worked hard to reflect that while also using the opportunity to refashion what it means to be "Elvish" on screen.

At another point in his Gold Derby interview, the actor explained, "So, I had an opportunity of bringing my own experiences to that, my own version of classic, my own version of Elveness." He goes on to say that Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, and others brought their own important contributions to the collective understanding of what it means to be an Elf in Middle-earth. In the same sense, "I wanted to experience an Elf from where I stand in the world, and what I also was missing that I also know is Elven."

In the end, Córdova created a character that is oozing with classic Middle-earth Elvishness while also sporting his own down-to-earth immortal elements. This wouldn't have been possible without blending the actor's own creativity with those that came before him. He ends the explanation by saying, "Of course, I bow. I tip my hat to our forefather Elves or mothers, but I took the chance of doing something new as well."