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'Lord of the Rings' TV series — cast, release date and everything you need to know

Lord of the Rings TV series
Amazon Lord of the Rings TV series could be set around the one ring's creation (Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The Lord of the Rings TV series is one of the most highly-anticipated shows on (Middle) Earth right now and with production back underway after a delay due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we can start to get excited. 

Peter Jackson's film trilogy smashed box office records and won a host of Oscars when it hit cinemas nearly two decades ago and JRR Tolkien's fantasy world will be explored once again on Amazon Prime Video in the years to come. 

But don't expect to see any of your favourite characters from Peter Jackson's iconic film trilogy on screen, as the show will be set during Middle Earth’s Second Age —that’s thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings movies. Here's everything we know about Amazon's prequel series... 

Lord of the Rings TV series release date

Production was halted last year due to Covid, but is now back underway and Amazon have hinted the first series might be hitting our screens in late 2021. We can't think of a better Christmas present! 

We'll let you know as soon as an official release date is confirmed. 

Lord of the Rings TV series plot

Amazon's official synopsis for their Lord of the Rings spin-off confirms the story will take viewers thousands of years back from the events of the books and films...

"Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. 

"Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone."

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Tolkien aficionados soon noticed the official series map (above) included the five-pointed-star-shaped southwest island kingdom of Númenor. An ancient kingdom of Men with long lifespans, Númenor flourished throughout much of the Second Age until it fell after the rise of Sauron. Númenor's ruler, King Elendil, then set sail for Middle Earth, where he eventually founded the kingdom of Gondor.

Rumours are now swirling that the series could cover the fall of Númenor, the formation of Gondor, of which Aragorn became king in the final film of Peter Jackson's series, and the creation of the nine rings of power, which Sauron used deceive the men, elves and dwarves of Middle Earth, an event seen in the first film's prologue. 

These theories would be supported by the fact that Gondor is nowhere to be seen on the above map and that a young Galadriel (who was played by Cate Blanchett in the movies) is among the cast of characters, but more on that later.

Early reports the show would centre around a young Aragorn now seem wide of the mark, but we might finally get a better look at Sauron, who was only seen briefly at the start of the film trilogy. 

This evidence could mean that the Amazon series might be an adaptation of Tolkien's famously dense novel The Silmarillion. The posthumously-published text gave a lot more backstory to Middle Earth, detailing how a lot of the world came to be, and how Sauron was defeated at the end of the Second Age.

Lord of the Rings TV series budget

Amazon beat off competition from Netflix to complete a reported $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen back in 2017. 

The TV show is reported to be the most expensive in history and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost more than $1 billion!

Game of Thrones star Robert Aramayo.

Game of Thrones star Robert Aramayo is due to play series lead Beldor. (Image credit: HBO)

How many episodes will the Lord of the Rings TV series be? 

There are reports the opening series of what could become an epic saga will be 20 episodes long, which given the amount of time and money invested in the project wouldn't be a surprise. 

The terms of Amazon's deal with the Tolkien Estate include a five season commitment and the second series of the show has already been given the green light. 

Amazon bosses are thought to be keen to replicate the kind of success HBO and Sky Atlantic had with fantasy series, Game of Thrones

Where is the Lord of the Rings TV series being filmed? 

Production is currently taking place in New Zealand. In a statement, showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said: 

"As we searched for the location in which we could bring to life the primordial beauty of the Second Age of Middle-earth, we knew we needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains, that also is a home to world-class sets, studios, and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople and other staff.

"And we’re happy that we are now able to officially confirm New Zealand as our home for our series based on stories from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

'We are grateful to the people and the government of New Zealand and especially Auckland for supporting us during this pre-production phase. The abundant measure of Kiwi hospitality with which they have welcomed us has already made us feel right at home, and we are looking forward to deepening our partnership in the years to come."

Game of Thrones star Jospeh Mawle.

Game of Thrones star Jospeh Mawle is set to play villain, Oren. (Image credit: HBO)

Lord of the Rings TV series cast

The show's lead character Beldor will be played by Robert Aramayo, who played young Ned Stark on Game of Thrones and more recently Rob in Netflix's Behind Her Eyes. Aramayo's role was originally offered to Will Poulter (Midsommar), but Poulter reportedly had to step away from the project due to scheduling conflicts.

Meanwhile Years and Years star Maxim Baldry has been cast “in a significant role” and Joseph Mawle – who also starred in Game of Thrones as Ned Stark's brother Benjen - has also been cast, with rumours circulating that he is set to play the story's main antagonist, Oren. 

Meanwhile, Welsh actor Owain Arthur (A Confession), Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland), and Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Power) have also signed on. 

One character who was in the film series and will appear prominently in the TV series is royal elf Galadriel, with His Dark Materials star Morfydd Clark taking over the role made famous by Cate Blanchett in the movies.

Other stars include Ismael Cruz Córdova (Ray Donovan), Markella Kavenagh (The Cry), Ema Horvath (Don’t Look Deeper), Megan Richards (Wanderlust), Dylan Smith (Maze Runner), Charlie Vickers (Medici), Daniel Weyman (Silent Witness) and screen newcomers Tyroe Muhafidin and Sophia Nomvete, will also appear. 

Morfydd Clark.

Morfydd Clark will play a young Lady Galadriel. (Image credit: Film4)

Australian actor Tom Budge (whose role has not yet been disclosed) was signed on for the Amazon project, but the actor revealed in March 2021 he had exited the project.

Budge explained in an Instagram post: "It is with great sadness that I am writing to tell you I have departed Amazon's 'Lord Of The Rings' television series."

"After recently seeing the first episodes shot over the last year Amazon has decided to go in another direction with the character I was portraying..."

Who will direct Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV series?

At the 2019 summer Television Critics Association press tour, Amazon revealed the creative team behind the new Lord of the Rings prequel series.

The show features writers, directors, producers, costume designers, visual effects artists, and more with credits from shows such as Game of Thrones, Westworld, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Avengers, Stranger Things, Fringe and many more, as you can see below... 

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The director of the original films Peter Jackson will not be working on the series, but fans will be pleased to hear that John Howe, who served as a conceptual designer for the hit trilogy will be. 

Amazon have also signed up Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom‘s J.A. Bayona to direct the first two episodes of the series and he will also serve as an executive producer with his producing partner Belén Atienza. 

On March 24, Amazon Studios revealed that they had boarded British-Chinese director Wayne Che Yip (Doctor Who, Utopia, Hunters) as a director on the show. He will direct four episodes of the upcoming show.

Yip said: "It is a true honor to be invited into the world of Tolkien by J.D. & Patrick and Amazon Studios. Every day I look forward to working with the incredible team here in New Zealand as we humbly contribute to the legacy of the greatest stories ever told." 

Lord of the Rings TV series trailer

Amazon haven't released a trailer yet, but we'll be sure to post it here the minute they do!