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Robert Aramayo Sheds Light On A Younger Elrond In Rings Of Power - Exclusive Interview

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" will be set during the Second Age of Middle-earth history. This is a period of time in Tolkien's legendarium with comparatively minimal information. Some larger chunks of details are laid out in books like "The Silmarillion" and "Unfinished Tales," but due to rights issues, the show is generally restricted to the appendices of "The Lord of the Rings" (with some leeway when approved by the Tolkien Estate). This means its creators don't have a whole lot of source material to directly pull from.

This makes the use of pre-existing, in-canon characters like Galadriel and Sauron uniquely important. These immortal beings serve as primary threads that connect Prime Video's story to the "Lord of the Rings" narrative thousands of years in the future. Another ageless character who shows up both in "Rings of Power" and "Lord of the Rings" is Elrond, the half-Elven loremaster and leader of Rivendell. 

By the time of "LOTR," Elrond is already a venerable individual. He has a rich backstory and has seen a lot of stuff over the millennia. "Rings of Power," in effect, book-ends this experience by picking up with a very young (especially for an immortal Elf) Elrond who is just starting to get his career off the ground.

The studio tapped the impressive skills of Robert Aramayo ("Game of Thrones," "The Empty Man") as the perfect man for the job of portraying Elrond in their adaptation of the story. Aramayo is no stranger to the fantasy genre and is a serious Tolkien fan in his own right, to boot. We recently sat down for an exclusive interview with the actor to learn more of the nitty-gritty details about how he's bringing such a pivotal Tolkienian character to life on the streaming screen.

Elrond feels unresolved about his past when Rings of Power starts

Elrond has a very traumatic past, we already saw a little reference to that in the trailer, and his parents are heroes but they're not around. You're raised by a merciful captor, so there's a lot of that. How much of that is going to influence the story? Are we going to see any of that on the screen? How much of it will be there?

He's obviously closer to the choice that he made, in all of the paths that you're talking about, than he is to the council of Elrond. There's a lot that has to go on in between now and then that leads him there. Right now, he's definitely in a moment of "Who am I?" He's closer to being an orphan than he is to being a Lord, but he's trying so hard to be the Herald of Gil-galad. He still believes the things that he's been taught about the Elven way and all that stuff. 

I feel like, reading the material, you could argue that his great strength is his ability to see. [It's sort of like] one of the fundamentals of Imladris that he brings people together, but he isn't there yet either. Right now, he's still unresolved, with his dad, and his mom, and his past, and his brother.

That was the follow-up question, and again, say what you're allowed to say: Are we going to see Elros or hear his name mentioned? There's been nothing about that so far.

I would love it because that would be so cool to see. I truly don't know, man. It's interesting, isn't it? To think about what conversations they might have had or how many times they saw each other after he went and created Númenor — that relationship is super interesting, so I hope so.

I know based on what we've heard about the time compression, it's 1,000 years, which means he would've been alive for half of that. He lives to be 500, so it's not leaving like it's ancient history, it's-

Recent history in the eyes of the immortals.

Elrond is young ... for an Elf

One of the interesting things about Elrond is that he's around 60 years old at the beginning of the Second Age and 3,500 years old at the end of it. With time compression as a factor, that's a huge span, because Galadriel's already old and she continues to be old, she's maturing, but you're at the beginning and then way into your lifespan on either side of this thing. How has that influenced how you present the character on the screen?

Right now, as I say, he's a politician, he's really trying to help his king to do his duty as he sees it, but there's those moments of the lingering mortality, the recent past and the emotion that has come before the story. He is young. In terms of our elves, he's the youngest elf that we see in the show, so yeah, he is young, but he's still been around for a while.

Galadriel is in Elrond's life, but they aren't as close as they will be in the future

Okay, Galadriel. She's your elder, she's your future mother-in-law, but you're both younger still. You're going to have a lot of story together in the future, but what does it look like at the beginning of the Second Age here, at the beginning of the "Rings of Power" story? Are you guys already closely connected or is that something that we're going to see over the course of the show?

That was another one of those interesting things that we spoke about. When did she come into my life? It's clear that she's been in my life for quite a long time and he admires her greatly. She's a legend already to him and so he admires her, and that's where [he finds] that first difficult decision he has to make, which comes up a lot for Elrond of friendship and duty — honoring his friendship and his admiration for her but, at the same time, honoring the will of his king, and sometimes, those things don't match up and that's complicated.

There's a lot of layers there.

She's powerful, man, in so many ways. He admires how headstrong she is, and what she's done and what she's seen, it's pretty difficult to ignore. She's one of his heroes.

Elrond is counted among the immortals and under pressure to perform

Your character is a lore master and a sage when we see him in "Lord of the Rings," but he gets a lot of fighting and action in the Second Age — a little bit further into the story than Season 1 here. How is that going to influence the way you present this guy who's going to become a loremaster, but he's got to lead armies, he's going to be at all these huge events wielding swords, and spears, and all that stuff?

For him, it's about duty. I'm not sure yet that he's realized his greatest strength, and he has many different parts of what he achieves in his life you could point to and be like, "That was amazing, and that was [also] amazing." He achieved this, and that's incredible. What's at the bottom of it is what is necessary. At this moment, [it is necessary] to serve something that's greater than himself. 

I feel like when you've come from your dad and your mom served the world, and your brother created one of the greatest nations that's ever existed, and then here you are, the Herald of Gil-galad, it's a lot to live up to. It's a lot of pressure. He is connected, [and] his greatest decisions will come from that, will come from necessity, from need. That's where his choices come from, and love, emotionality. 

When I read about him, I'm always really interested in the way that Tolkien talks about [how Elrond is] counted amongst the immortals, which is an interesting thing. Counted, it doesn't necessarily say that he is one. Technically, he's immortal, but to me, it suggests something interesting about what mortality means to him, and literally what mortality is inside of him. If you had to cut him up, he's immortal, but "What does half-elven mean?" was one of the most interesting questions about creating him.

I love the fact that he's got a little bit of Maiar in him, and so does Aragorn.

1/16th, I think.

Aragorn's a little bit less, but still, this isn't a cut and dry issue, right?

No, definitely not. He is the mutt of the legendarium. Everything feeds into him, and it's why he was given the choice in the first place. If you look at where he comes from — I read this thing — he's 1/16th Maiar and 8/16th this. It's mental if you wanted to break it down, so it makes a lot of sense that he was given the choice.

Gil-galad is Elrond's mentor ... and actor Benjamin Walker is kind of the same for Aramayo

Okay, Gil-galad. In "'The Silmarillion," the first time we hear about you and Gil-galad, I'll read the quote here: "Gil-galad, son of Fingon, was their King, and with him was Elrond, half-elven, son of Eärendil the Mariner and brother of Elros, first king of Númenor." You guys are buddied up from the get-go. Is that something that's going to be the case in the show too or are we going to see how that union comes about?

He's my King, I'm serving him, he's telling me where to go and what to do, but also, it's a bit of a mentorship as well. If you look at the great achievements of Gil-galad, there [are] reflections of them in some of the deeds of Elrond, which me and Ben both really like. Also, as a side note, it's like art imitating life or something, Ben is a bit of a mentor to me, but that's great. I really enjoy that relationship and it's got loads more in it.

A good follow-up to that is Gil-galad and Elrond are both described as people who, when Sauron does show up, they're nervous. Gil-galad, right from the get-go in the promotional material, is like, "Something's coming," and Elrond is also occasionally mentioned in that camp of "something's wrong here." Do we see that in his character? Is that something that you come to realize over the course of the show?

You mean with "Mr. S"? I would echo your quote. There's many references to Elrond and Gil-galad being dubious of certain people.

Elrond eventually gets a Ring of Power, but is that really a good thing?

You end up with one of the three elven rings, Vilya, Ring of Air, Ring of Sapphire. It's called the mightiest of the three and you're going to have it during the show, I'm assuming. It happens during the Second Age. These rings are described as created "for understanding, making, and healing to preserve all things unstained." It's not the One Ring of power domination. How is that going to factor into when you're wielding one of these in the show? I asked Owain this about a Dwarven ring, where it's this corrupting influence. For you, it would be this positive influence. Have you thought about how that's going to affect your character?

Yes, in the future, I suppose, but what's so interesting about the Rings of Power is they channel what's already inside of you. That extends to magic or that idea of magic, that idea of the machine that Mr. Tolkien talked about so much. For the elves, the rings are the machine, and I wonder how he feels about it. He doesn't get that ring straight away. It's another one of those interesting moments, an interesting question that hopefully the show will answer of why he doesn't or when he does. That's all for the future, hopefully.

I liked hearing that from you because it's easy to take it as "He'll go use it for good," but he does say in "Unfinished Tales," that Celebrimbor, the one negative influence here is that he wants the science and the knowledge, and it's that machine aspect, and he's channeling it into these rings. There is that dark side to even the elven rings, right?

I think so, because I love this great story that I saw with Christopher Tolkien talking about an amazing landscape that he was looking at when he was a kid with his dad, and there was a little train going across the landscape, and there's steam coming out the train, and Christopher was saying how beautiful it was. 

JR was like, "Except the train." I feel like he hated that ability, and it's something that's interesting in the world today, with us being disconnected from the natural world — he saw it coming. He hated the steam train. Human beings need to get ahead and do things faster, and that's replicated here in some way with how all elements of the machine operate in any of his works, people trying to supersede or jump ahead.

Elrond's initial accoutrements hold significant value

In the character posters — we'll stay on the ring topic — you are shown with a ring and a golden rod with a city on top. Are those significant? Do we get to know what they are, or [are those] things you're wearing until the elven ring takes its place?

They are significant to him, to his past, to his character. That city is very important to his past.

I'm going to do a two-part question here. You can't spoil, but Celebrían, is she alive? She's your future wife, so how is she going to factor into all of this, and anything you can tell us about it?

Don't know.

That lines up with what we know. That syncs up with you guys only really have seen Season 1. I'm assuming you're seeing some stuff of Season 2 now, but you really are limited in where you know this is going to go, correct?

The great thing about the show, as I said earlier, is you have these moments, these plot points on the map, and it's for the boys to interestingly weave us in between those points. I hope people really enjoy that journey. The legendarium beautifully poses questions because of different versions or things like that, or things not specifically said about how somebody felt about something that happened. 

One of the funniest things is that, as a fan, you get to see, hopefully, some of those questions answered, our interpretation of them. I hope people enjoy that because as a fan, they're interesting questions.

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" will premiere on Prime Video on September 2nd. The first season will consist of eight episodes and will be the first of five seasons that will tell the dramatic story of the Second Age of Tolkien's world. Along with Aramayo's Elrond, the show will feature a massive cast filled with plenty of classic Tolkien characters along with many faces that will be brand new to the Middle-earth landscape.

This interview has been edited for clarity.