The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power's Harfoots Finally Revealed

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is rapidly approaching. In the run-up to the show's September 2 release date, the studio has slowly been revealing more and more information. This started with a flurry of content in February, including a massive set of mysterious character posters, and a full 60-second Super Bowl spot. After that, things slowed down for several months.

As the summer kicks off, though, the momentum is ramping up again — most recently in a hotly anticipated "Rings of Power"-centric edition of Empire Magazine. The report features a smorgasbord of Tolkien-happy content, including a solid amount of new info about the show's proto-Hobbit race, the Harfoots. Markella Kavenagh's character Elanor "Nori" Brandyfoot was already revealed during the trailer earlier in the year. However, the new information gives us a look at the larger Harfoot community, and one of the covers that Empire is releasing also shows us young Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) as well as one Sadoc Burrows (the venerable Sir Lenny Henry).

Along with pictures, Empire also released a pre-printing article online that focuses on Sir Lenny's part of their deep dive — and the information provided paints a picture that is about as Hobbit-like as it gets.

The Harfoots are the traditional Tolkien little guy

According to Sir Lenny, the Harfoots are going to give us an interesting dose of lighthearted Hobbit fun in a more primitive, nomadic setting. In the words of the actor, "We're a nomadic tribe, moving with the weather and the fertility of the crops. We have big caravans on wooden wheels and we're very good at hiding things, because humans are much bigger than us and bring trouble." 

This sentiment rings true with Tolkien's well-established attitude of Hobbits disliking adventures and avoiding "Big Folk" whenever they could. Even so, Henry drops hints about at least some Halfling adventures to come in "Rings of Power." He says, "We're the traditional Tolkien little guy. Traditionally, the little people in this world provide comedy but also get to be incredibly brave. You're going to see us run the full gamut of emotions and actions in this adventure."

This concept of "the traditional Tolkien little guy" is an important one throughout "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" stories. The Hobbits in those adventures aren't just doing epically awesome things like destroying Rings and stabbing Witch-kings. They also offer a small, relatable perspective from which we lowly members of the audience can experience a story much bigger than the Hobbits ... and ourselves. However, in Tolkien's actual writings, Hobbits are absent from the Second Age, where "Rings of Power" takes place — or at least, they aren't in the recorded writings of that time. This leaves a host of more inaccessible characters to work with, which could quickly make the entire narrative too lofty to draw in a large audience. 

The addition of Tolkien's "little guys," albeit in the guise of proto-Hobbit Harfoots, is a smart move that should make the entire experience more relatable.

The Harfoots shift the needle for people of color in Middle-earth

Lenny Henry's words give us an initial glimpse into some of the structural elements that make up Harfoot life in showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay's iteration of Middle-earth. But the British actor doesn't stop there. He adds that the Harfoots help incorporate more people of color into Tolkien's world, too. The author, himself, famously left many of his peoples under-described. Even the matter of Aragorn's beard wasn't clarified until a fan asked him the question Elvish, per Twitter. (And for the record, he's not supposed to have one, Viggo.)

This lack of description has left the door wide open for "Rings of Power" to incorporate many people of color into the Second Age without dramatically changing the source material. This ability to build a more diverse image of Middle-earth is something that Henry is understandably excited about. "If you can't see it, you can't be it. Finally, in this show, kids are going to see people of colour taking up space in the centre of a fantasy series. We're very visible in this world and that's very exciting."

The diversity of the Harfoot cast already extends beyond Sir Lenny, too. Promotional material sees Henry flanked on either side by two accompanying Harfoots, which the fan site Fellowship of Fans has identified as Sri Lankan actress Thusitha Jayasundera and Australian actress Sara Zwangobani.

How will the Harfoots factor into the Rings of Power story?

The incoming deluge of details is exciting for anyone looking forward to the "Rings of Power" experience. We've known for a while now that Harfoots would be involved, but the clarifications provided by Sir Lenny starts to fill in the picture of just how this group of "Little People" will operate alongside the "Big People" that they share their world with.

It's worth noting that Tolkien did clarify in his writings that Hobbits didn't play any truly earth-shaking roles in Middle-earth history until the events of "The Lord of the Rings." So, a basic reading of the source material should lead us to believe that even the most ambitious Harfoots shouldn't be too instrumental in the narrative (at least, not compared to what we've seen in past stories). Even so, knowing that we're going to experience Middle-earth through the lens of Halflings again is a comforting thought. It will allow for a sense of wonderment and awe that you can only find when you're truly looking "up" at a story. And of course, there's the additional fact that, in spite of their timid lifestyle, there's always that seed of courage hidden deeply in every Hobbit (and presumably every Harfoot) just waiting for something dangerous or desperate to make it grow. 

We don't yet know what dangers and adventures await the Little Folk in "Rings of Power," but it'll be exciting to see it all play out later this year.