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Rings Of Power's Benjamin Walker Praises The 'Infinite' Inspiration He Gets From Tolkien's Writings - Exclusive

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is an adaptation of Middle-earth that marches to the beat of its own drum. Prime Video has purchased separate rights to the material, which means the show won't be tying into (or even closely mirroring) Peter Jackson's beloved on-screen version of the fantasy world. However, anyone who has read about Middle-earth for more than a few minutes knows that even Peter Jackson's films made a lot of changes to the source material and aren't the most reliable compass when trying to make an accurate adaptation of Tolkien's writings.

Instead, Prime Video's creative team, led by showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne, had to go straight to the source for all of their creative decisions. They've had to work from the rich (albeit limited) resources found in the appendices of "The Return of the King" and the little hints and references to older events found elsewhere in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "The Hobbit" books.

The showrunners and writers have used this finite set of information to fashion a multi-layered story that includes nearly two dozen main characters, traipses all over the Middle-earth map, and will stretch across five substantial seasons. While Tolkien's details for their story may be sparse, the behind-the-scenes crew has made it abundantly clear that they aren't lacking inspiration when it comes to understanding the larger themes and messages of the author's works.

It's a motivating notion that the actors have embraced as well, starting with Benjamin Walker, who plays the High King Gil-galad on the show. We sat down with Walker during the lead-up to the Season 1 premiere and dove into the details of his character and how he draws from the "infinite font of inspiration" that is Tolkien's writings.

Benjamin Walker gets something new from Tolkien every time

While Gil-galad is a key person in Tolkien's Second Age, the sparsity of the source material means there isn't much out there that the author actually wrote to use when building a well-rounded, long-term adaptation of the Elven king. We asked Benjamin Walker how challenging it has been developing a fleshed-out character for a serialized show from the lofty and limited information available, and his response was much bigger than using Tolkien's writings for research on a single individual. "Any time I feel stumped, I go back to the source material. You go back to the books, even if it's not specifically about Gil-galad," he said.

The actor went on to detail what drives his Tolkienian research: "You want to imagine what a war would be like. You want to imagine what immortality really means, which is the ultimate death of everyone you've ever known and loved over thousands and thousands of years on repeat. Then you have to ask the question, 'How do you muster the strength to have hope in spite of that?'"

The Elven actor summarized these thoughts by emphasizing how much information and inspiration can be found in Tolkien's writings, whether it's directly or indirectly about his character. "Most people know [Gil-galad] from that song Sam sings, but there's actually quite a bit that you can glean from the text. Like a religious text, you return to Tolkien and you get something new every time. That's one of the selfish joys of it for me. But also it's an infinite font of inspiration. It's the perfect resource."

"The Rings of Power" officially launched on Prime Video on September 2. New episodes air weekly throughout the entirety of its eight-episode first season.