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Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power Was Handed To Two Unproven Showrunners. Here's Why

You've seen the movies (and their extended editions, and maybe even "The Hobbit" trilogy). There's a pretty good chance that you've read the books. Even if you haven't done any of that, you're almost certainly aware of the massive role J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" – as well as its various adaptations and adjacent works — plays in the cultural zeitgeist. It is, one could argue, the One Fantasy Franchise to Rule Them All — and with its budget of no less than $250 million, Amazon's upcoming "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" seems to be gearing up for a shot at the title of the "Lord of the Rings" property to rule them all. 

It's a pretty tall order, and knowing the likely massive expectations from Amazon and the fans, it's a bit surprising to realize that the gigantic enterprise that is "The Rings of Power" is in the hands of Patrick McKay and J. D. Payne, who between them have a grand total of zero credited, completed, IMDb-worthy projects. However, it turns out there's a pretty sound logic behind the reason "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" was handed to two unproven showrunners.

Hidden experience and extremely convincing ideas

In a Vanity Fair article about "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay discuss their roles as showrunners, and it turns out they're not quite as green as their lack of IMDb credentials might make them seem — they've just been massively unlucky with credited projects. However, they have worked on some pretty large-scale stuff before — including doing some writing for an unnamed "Star Trek" film, which earned them a glowing reference from one J. J. Abrams. They won both Amazon and the Tolkien estate over with their passion and ideas, ultimately rising above the massive amount of talent vying for the gig.

 "We've worked on so many projects with so many awesome and exciting people that never got made or worked on things that did get made and we didn't get credit," McKay said. "We were a little bit of a dark horse. And Amazon talked to absolutely everybody — whoever had any idea for Lord of the Rings." 

Payne and McKay are aware of the expectations thrust upon them, and while they have quite clearly convinced everyone they've needed to convince that they have what it takes, they've found a suitable comparison to their situation from Tolkien's world: Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee's arduous journey in "The Lord of the Rings."

"We felt like hobbits," Payne revealed. "We felt like two very small people in a very big world who had just been entrusted with something that meant so much to so many different people. Patrick and I will often look at each other in challenging moments of the show and say, 'I'm glad you're with me, Sam.'"