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Lloyd Owen, Ema Horvath, And Maxim Baldry Talk Númenóreans, Rings Of Power, And Galenas - Exclusive Interview

The island nation of Númenor has always been important to Tolkien's legendarium. It has a heavy presence in "The Lord of the Rings," even if it only hovers on the edge of the story. During the time of Prime Video's upcoming series "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," though, Númenor isn't just a present element — the island nation and its people are a central part of the narrative.

Chief among the Númenóreans is the seemingly insignificant branch of the royal family led by the patriarch Elendil and his close kin (including the famous Isildur, who fans of "The Lord of the Rings" will recognize as the guy who cuts the One Ring from Sauron's hand later on in the story).

Earlier in the summer, our leading Tolkien expert had a chance to catch up with Elendil and his on-screen kids, Eärien and Isildur (played by Lloyd Owen, Ema Horvath, and Maxim Baldry, respectively). The father and son come straight from Tolkien's original works, while Horvath's character was invented for the show. The trio of actors was a hoot to hang with. They displayed their Númenórean biases, and Baldry even started the interview by casually dropping the word "Galenas" — Númenórean for the plant that eventually becomes known as pipeweed to the Hobbits of the Shire thousands of years later.

Here's the full interview, complete with the actors' favorite Tolkien characters, thoughts on the challenge of bringing their own characters to life, and commentary on how much (or how little) of the show's story arc the actors are actually aware of as the first season kicks off.

Númenórean superiority, favorite characters, and Isildur's journey

Lloyd Owen: One quick question for you. Are we the first of your interviewees?


Owen: Númenóreans are the greatest. Never forget it, whoever else you meet.

Maxim Baldry: Galenas.

That answers one of my questions. Thank you.

Baldry: A bit of Númenórean for you.

You already set the tone with Númenóreans. What is your favorite original Tolkien character for each of you?

Owen: Aragorn.

Ema Horvath: Aragorn?

Owen: He's my 38th great-grandson, I got to say that. Got to keep it family loyal.

Horvath: Gimli. I'm very partial to Dwarves.

Baldry: Boromir.

Maxim, Isildur is often seen in a negative light because he couldn't destroy the ring, especially from Peter Jackson's movies. But his earlier backstory in Tolkien's writings is actually pretty spectacular. It's heroic — put it all together and he ends up having a bit of a tragic hero vibe. Is this similar to the version of the character that you'll be bringing to "Rings of Power"?

Baldry: Everyone gets corrupted. In the first season, he is a young sailor, and he is struggling to find himself, find his voice, find his narrative. He wants to please his father and go along with the route that's been laid out for him, but there's something else out there that he can't quite put his finger on. He wants to travel west and be with his brother, Anarion, who's actually kind of an external figure to all of us. He's not very present.

[Isildur] is trying to find himself. That's what's quite exciting, is that there's ... We know a lot about him and where he ends up, and this is an early taster into his early life and upbringing.

Bringing new and old characters to the screen

Ema, what is your character's name, and why was she created for the show?

Horvath: Her name is Eärien. She's the baby of the family. I think she was created because the schism that happens on the island also needs to be reflected within the family. She serves a plot function in that sense. She also replaces the feminine hole that's been left by the loss of our mother. At least, she's trying her hardest this season to be as much of a mother as she can be to her very troubled brother.

Lloyd, Elendil is the definition of a patriarch. Aragorn, who's your favorite character, is still shouting his name as a battle cry thousands of years after he dies. He's the friend of Elvish lords; he's the founder of kingdoms. What kind of burden comes with playing a character this important in Tolkien's legendarium?

Owen: [It's] a tremendous responsibility, but also paired with a great excitement, because as you'll know, there are certain signposts along the way as to who this man is. Obviously, we have to get to the last alliance of Elves and men. But the great Tolkien themes throughout are the hero's journey.

As we find Elendil at the beginning, and particularly, which I love, from what J.D. [Payne] and Patrick [McKay] have invented having introduced Eärien ... [They've] also introduced this idea of [him] having lost his wife, lost the mother of his children, and the turbulence within the family that causes with that grief. It's a man at the beginning of this story who is trying to bring everything together and keep his life as simple as possible.

But the problem is his heart is Elvish and his mind is Númenórean. The contrast and the difficulty between those two things is an internal struggle for him, which is also reflected in his family. What we're seeing is someone who might not perhaps want to go on that journey, but that is his fate. He's going to become more and more aware of fate, because every character in Tolkien's world understands there is a fate to walk through.

The cast only knows as far as Season 1

J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have talked about how they've mapped this whole thing out. How much of the five seasons are you guys aware of as you're acting in this early season?

Baldry: Season 1.

Really? They've only told you the first season?

Horvath: Yeah.

Owen: Obviously, they said enough in the press about some of that stuff. We're going to forge the Rings of Power; we're going to see the great island of Númenor, Khazad-dûm, the last alliance of Elves and men. That gives us some idea.

There's a difficult balance for everyone, because if I'm talking to someone like you, we know where Tolkien has gone with this. Then [if] someone comes to it fresh and brand new, you don't want to spoil it for them, because they might not have read anything about it. It will be coming to them fresh, and all of us want that new 11-year-old, 10-year-old, to get sucked into Tolkien's world like we were at the equivalent ages.

We feel very safe in J.D. and Patrick's hands, as I hope the fans should — because the more you hear them talk, these are a couple of absolute fanboys with super smarts and an encyclopedic knowledge of Tolkien and a great love for him.

The journey begins with "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" on September 2. The first season consists of eight lengthy episodes that will explore Middle-earth (including Númenor), introduce a sprawling cast of characters, and set the stage for the forging of the Rings of Power and the epic first rise and fall of the Dark Lord Sauron.

This interview was edited for clarity.