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Markella Kavenagh And Megan Richards On Harfoots And Halflings In Rings Of Power - Exclusive Interview

It's no secret that "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is going to need to create a lot of new characters for the show. J.R.R. Tolkien's original writings on the Second Age are sparse at best, and the source material that the showrunners are working from is even more limiting. This has led to the creation of new human, Elvish, and Dwarvish characters. There's also going to be a chunk of screen time devoted to one new group that was a surprising out-of-canon addition – Harfoots.

The nomadic proto-Hobbits are mentioned at the beginning of "Fellowship of the Ring" book, but there's no record of their presence or activities during the time of the "Rings of Power" story. This absence hasn't stopped the creators from diving in and coming up with their own early version of the Halfling community long before it ever reached the hallowed boundaries of the Shire.

Two of the characters that inhabit the hidden Harfoot world are Elanor "Nori" Brandyfoot and Poppy Proudfellow, played by Markella Kavenagh and Megan Richards, respectively. We had a chance to sit down remotely with the two Harfoot actors a couple of months before the show's premiere date to dig into the mysterious world surrounding their proto-Hobbit characters and their on-screen community.

Favorite Tolkien characters and female Halflings in the spotlight

What is your favorite original Tolkien character that Tolkien himself wrote?

Markella Kavenagh: Lúthien, because I love the book so much, and I love her character and I love their story.

Megan Richards: I really like the Ents. They're great. I love everything about them — I just love them.

It's cool to see female Halflings in the spotlight. Also, Halflings, Hobbits, Harfoots — all similar, but it's cool to see that you guys are there and that you're clearly good friends getting together on the film there. Are you trying to channel some of that iconic Hobbit dynamic that Elijah Wood and Sean Austin and Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd captured during Peter Jackson's films?

Kavenagh: They were great and I love the films. But we're playing Harfoots, and even though we may look similar with the feet and the ears, we have really different circumstances ... There's a lot of hilarity in our storyline and a bit of tragedy here and there, and the Harfoots have a lot of heart. We [were] focusing on that and building that.

Where are Harfoots in Middle-earth during Rings of Power?

Let's focus on that for a minute — can you tell us a little bit more about where the Harfoots are living when the story starts? Because it's not the Shire, right? It's got to be somewhere else.

Kavenagh: No.

Richards: No. The Harfoots are like a nomadic community. We move, we travel through the seasons. We have these carts which are their home, so every family has a home. Whenever they travel, they carry the carts with them, so you literally have your home on your back. 

That's where they are. They're searching for that feeling of safety and security as well as having that within the community. The home for them is the community and the people that they have around them, all the Harfoots that they have around them.

That's the heart of that Halfling aspect, right?

Kavenagh: Exactly.

Thoughts on Harfoots, Dwarves, and Halfling history

Tolkien wrote that — in the Third Age — Harfoots interacted with Dwarves a lot. Are we going to see you guys interacting with Dwarves in the show?

Kavenagh: You'll have to wait and see.

Richards: You'll find out.

In the prologue of "The Fellowship of the Ring," we hear a lot about how Hobbits and Halflings have been around forever, but they're not really in the written histories up until the Third Age. Are you going to try to fit the story of the Harfoots into that context? Or are you going to bend that a little bit to put them more in the spotlight in the show?

Kavenagh: Again, you'll have to see, but ... It's an exciting storyline to be a part of, and we get up to a lot of adventure and mischief and perhaps encounter some danger along the way. And yeah, we feature a lot within the community.

Richards: The showrunners are such incredible writers. The world that they've created and the characters that they've created have allowed me to feel like I can embody that community and have the character of Poppy within my bones in order to really service the story and do the story justice.

How well did they know Tolkien before the show?

How familiar were each of you with Tolkien before you got the roles?

Kavenagh: Tolkien was a big bit of part of my childhood. I read the books when I was younger and watched the films, so I felt really grateful to be able to revisit them in a new light. It felt quite surreal to be able to reread them within the context of then coming to film the series. It was really exciting. I loved the books.

Richards: I didn't have Tolkien in my life at all before this show, so this show has been a huge learning curve. I've appreciated delving into his work and finding such appreciation for it, and especially being so literally immersed within the world that he created. It has been a joy, and I'm grateful that I now have it in my life.

That's the hope, right? That this show will expand that audience and let more people participate.

Richards: Yes.

The first season of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" premieres on Prime Video on September 2. Along with Harfoots, the show will trace the stories of a sprawling cast of over 20 different Men, Elves, and Dwarves as they navigate the rising threat of evil that is spreading across the lands of Middle-earth.

This interview was edited for clarity.