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LOTR: Miranda Otto Explains Why She Can't Return As A Live-Action Eowyn

Miranda Otto is still remembered for her portrayal of the shieldmaiden Éowyn in Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" series. Twenty years after proudly declaring her womanhood in battle with the Witch-king before the gates of Minas Tirith, the actress remains an integral part of the cinematic Tolkien experience. She's even reprising her role in the upcoming Warner Bros. anime film "The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim."

Otto may be returning to Middle-earth, but she is under no misconception about the limitations of her mortal character. In a recent interview, the actor detailed why she can't return in live-action, flashing some lore-based wisdom that was clearly more than a passing interest. Otto explained that, while she can reprise her role in animated form, physically suiting up to ride with the Rohirrim again would be difficult. 

"I don't know how I would return in live-action, to be honest," she said, "Because of my character being mortal, per se, I can only really live within the timeframe of the Lord of the Rings books." A bit later in the interview, the Éowyn actress went into further detail, explaining, "I'm not like a Galadriel or Elven character who can live for a very long time and pop up in other places. And it would be hard to bring me back as a different character. That's the nice thing about doing it in animation, you totally can be there. It was a lovely place to be, and it would be lovely to revisit, but I just don't know what form that would take."

What is The War of the Rohirrim about and when is it set?

Fans are already ecstatic about an OG "Lord of the Rings" alum returning to the silver screen. Knowing that while doing so, Miranda Otto is trying to abide by the rules that Tolkien set within his world is only going to make the diehard crowd that much more sold on the idea. The question is, how is Otto able to act in the "War of the Rohirrim" anime but not in a show like "The Rings of Power"? The answer is all in timing.

"The Rings of Power" is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth history. This is millennia before Frodo and company save the day in "The Lord of the Rings" — which takes place at the very end of the 3,000-year-long Third Age that follows. This only makes it possible for a few very old immortal characters, like Galadriel, her husband Celeborn, Elrond, and Sauron, to exist in both stories.

In contrast, "The War of the Rohirrim" anime will detail a much more recent story in the history of the horse-loving mortal humans of Rohan. The realm of Rohan itself is only 500 years old by "The Lord of the Rings," and "The War of the Rohirrim" is a story that takes place less than three centuries before the One Ring is destroyed.

The story will trace the epic events when Rohan is invaded by the Dunlendings (the wild-looking men that help Saruman in Peter Jackson's "The Two Towers" film). While Rohan survives the ordeal, it is nearly destroyed first, making it a top-notch selection for a melodramatic full-length Middle-earth film.

How can Otto (via Éowyn) factor into the Rohirric prequel?

If fans who are less steeped in Tolkienian lore are wondering why a mortal like Éowyn can exist in a prequel that takes place hundreds of years rather than thousands of years before "The Lord of the Rings," the answer is simple: narration. Miranda Otto is currently slated to play an older version of her character, who will narrate the story — in what degree of detail, we don't yet know.

So, in theory, the same thing could apply to "The Rings of Power." You could have Otto narrate the story of the Second Age. The only issue is that the collective memory of the mortal people of Rohan is comparatively short. By the time of the "Lord of the Rings" story, they barely remember their interactions with Hobbits earlier in the Third Age — let alone events that happened thousands of years before that.

Bringing Otto back to play an older Éowyn narrating the tale of one of the most epic chapters in her ancestors' history seems like the most natural way you could get the shoe to fit here. It's a brilliant move that uses a beloved old-school actor to stabilize an innovative approach to Middle-earth film-making. With Otto on board, Warner Bros. can count on fans showing up on opening night, even as they charge ahead into this new chapter of animated Tolkien cinema that is beginning to unfold.