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Why Lord of the Rings fans should recognize Aunt Zelda from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Since its premiere in fall 2018, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has captivated audiences with its markedly darker take on the popular teenage witch character who was first introduced in the 1960s (in comic book form). The show also has some serious genre star power behind it. Before portraying Sabrina's no-nonsense Aunt Zelda on the Netflix series, Australian actress Mirando Otto played a pivotal role in one of the most popular film franchises of the last 20 years: The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In 1999, Otto, who'd by then appeared in a number of big-budget projects, landed one of the biggest roles of her career when director Peter Jackson cast her as Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings. Otto nabbed the role of the noblewoman who secretly moonlights as a warrior after actress Uma Thurman turned down the job (in a move Thurman has since said she "definitely" regrets).

Otto's character appears in the second and third films of the trilogy, and her story line consists of befriending the hobbit Merry Brandybuck (Dominic Monaghan), falling in love with (and getting rejected by) Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), and saving the day. Éowyn is perhaps known most for uttering the oft-quoted, unapologetically feminist line, "I am no man," right after slaying the Witch-King of Angmar and taking off her helmet to reveal that she is, in fact, not a male soldier but a woman.

How's that for a strong female character?

Miranda Otto was in Lord of the Rings before the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Following her appearance in The Lord of the Rings films, Otto appeared in a number of movies and tv shows in Australia before giving birth to a daughter and taking some time off to perform in local productions on stage, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. However, one of Otto's biggest roles since The Lord of the Rings has been her role as Aunt Zelda in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Otto's character is known for being an intimidating, powerful witch whom you wouldn't want to cross in a dark alley, and it's exactly the kind of character that has become Otto's bread and butter over the years. During a 2018 interview with Vulture, Otto explained that she's always been drawn to complex roles.

"I think I'm just attracted to playing characters that are strongly written on the page, that the writers have put time into being really specific about the way that they speak and their actions," she explained. "I don't enjoy so much playing myself. I much more enjoy trying to dive into a character. The more specific it is in the writing, the more fun it is for me. I suppose that's what I'm attracted to — characters with strong actions, strong motivations, strong intentions, and then very specific characterization."

The latest season of CAOS may have ended (with quite a bang) earlier this year, but fans can expect more of Sabrina, Aunt Zelda, and the rest of the coven when the show returns for part four.

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