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Nazanin Boniadi And Ismael Cruz Córdova Talk Forbidden Love And More In Rings Of Power - Exclusive Interview

Nazanin Boniadi and Ismael Cruz Córdova have been front and center throughout the lead-up to Season 1 of Prime Video's "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power." The two actors are portraying a human village healer and a Silvan Elf, respectively. Both characters will be located in the Southlands of Middle-earth for at least part of the show, and based on the footage we've seen so far, they don't mind getting in on the action when it comes to standing up for what they think is right.

Boniadi and Córdova's characters have been newly minted for Prime Video's adaptation and don't have a genesis in any of Tolkien's original writings. This presents unique challenges, especially since the pair are supposed to be wrapped up in a "forbidden love" that is immediately reminiscent of Aragorn and Arwen from "The Lord of the Rings" narrative.

Earlier this summer, we caught up with the two actors in London and were able to ask them a few questions about the first season of the show. We got a little bit more clarity on their characters' prohibited affections for one another — which are much more complicated than they sound at first glance. We were also able to learn more about what it was like to act on a set with so many practical effects and even gleaned a little personal information regarding each of their own favorite Tolkien characters.

Boniadi and Córdova share their favorite original Tolkien characters

Let's start with a nice, easy question. For each of you, what is your favorite original Tolkien character from the source material?

Ismael Cruz Córdova: A single character? I'm going to say the peoples — I always loved the people of Rohan. I was so mesmerized by it all, and the horsepower that was their animal and what that represented. Also, there's just a grit. I really like the people of Rohan.

Nazanin Boniadi: I love the wide-eyed innocence of Frodo. A lot of people are probably going to say that, but that's the truth.

Córdova: That said first ... the Elves. I'm allowed to choose a little bit more, but I was an Elf.

Yes, we know where your loyalty lies.

Córdova: I was an elf through and through, to be honest.

Boniadi: It's true, yeah.

Bronwyn and Arondir have a multi-faceted forbidden love

We already know that you guys play "forbidden love." The most obvious factor here is that Arondir is an Elf and Bronwyn is a human. Every time in Tolkien's writings when that pairing comes up, it isn't just rare, it's specific and special. There's always a purpose behind it, especially the way Tolkien would use it. What can we expect that you're allowed to talk about in the on-screen version of the romance between your two characters?

Boniadi: There's not only the aspect of an Elf and a human coming together that's forbidden, but there's a huge power dynamic. I play a Southlander whose ancestors were on the wrong side of history — they chose evil over good. They are paying the price now — the Southland is — for that decision, and they're trying to redeem themselves and liberate themselves from the Elves, who are occupying and watching over them. Arondir being tasked with this, and us being in this romance, it's multilayered. [There's] the fact that I'm a single mother [with] a rebellious teenage son and how that plays out, and how my people and his people frown on this relationship.

Córdova: Also, in this work, you're going to be able to see deeper into the hierarchy that exists even within the Elves. It's not just one big swatch of Elves with a perceived goodness throughout. We'll be able to see the layers of why this is forbidden and why not, and how it falls in that hierarchy itself.

Boniadi: Also, can I add that I love the idea in this day and age, particularly that from the outside ... It's an Elf and a human, but our underlying similarities — our love for nature, our curiosity for the other, all the things that we've talked about between us — the commonality that bonds us is stronger than what divides us. That's a really important message for today.

Yes. Even in Tolkien's writing, the Children of Ilúvatar — they're all the children.

Boniadi: Yes.

Córdova talks practical effects and moss and mold in the trees

We've seen a lot of action sequences in Arondir's footage so far, and there's a lot of practical effects going on. I'm excited, as a viewer, to see practical effects, but how did that affect the actual filming compared to a lot of the greenscreen nowadays and all that?

Córdova: It's a treat; it's an incredible treat. CGI has done incredible things and we enjoy that, and of course, there's going to be its portion and its share of it in the show, but to be able to be surrounded 360 by the work of real hands, real craftsmen, real artists that created every single detail that we have on — everything that you see on the ground, even the moss and the mold in the trees, even the leaves ... That really deepens the relationship with the work. It affects each one of our souls and the souls of the character. I'm quite confident that it's going to come right through the lens into your lap.

Boniadi: There is no substitute for immersing yourself in a world that's created around you.

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" premiers on September 2, 2022. It is the beginning of a pre-planned five-season story arc that will follow over 20 characters and chart several of the greatest stories of the Second Age of Middle-earth history.

This interview was edited for clarity.