Benjamin Walker's "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" wraps up its first season on Friday. Photo courtesy of Prime Video
NEW YORK, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Benjamin Walker and Cynthia Addai-Robinson say they are happy that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is generating lively discussion amongst the fantasy drama's viewers and devotees of literary lion J.R.R. Tolkien.
The show, which wraps up its first season on Prime Video on Friday, is an original story set thousands of years before the events of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit in a magical land in which heroes -- both mortals and beings with extraordinary powers -- are called upon to confront the re-emergence of evil after a long period of peace.
While TV critics have largely celebrated Rings of Power, some members of the fandom have criticized the show's diverse casting and diversion from established Tolkien mythology.
"I come from a loud family, but also, behind the debate is an affection for something that we also love and respect," Walker, who plays Gil-galad, High King of the Elves, recently told reporters at New York Comic Con. "Get out there, fight it out, let's talk about it, let's be part of the conversation. That's only a positive."
Addai-Robinson, who plays Miriel, queen regent of the island nation of Númenor, said she didn't go into her role worried about what Tolkien fans would think.
"Obviously, now we can engage a little bit more, we can entertain interesting theories and people are beginning to see the payoff of some of these stories that we've been teasing out," the actress said.
"When I first started on this, I was really just thinking about the stories themselves and the characters and preparing for my own character. I just wanted to honor the material and maintain the integrity of my character. I feel very protective now over this because I see the meaning it holds for a lot of people. Now, it holds deep meaning for myself, as well. So, I think in the beginning -- of course, I knew there was a fan base out there -- but I didn't want it to be some barrier to delving into this word and material."
Seven episodes in, the world is set up and the players are in place.
So, what can viewers expect from the season finale?
"The world starts to unravel. We build it and then we knock it down," Walker joked.
Addai-Robinson added, "There's definitely a ramping-up of storylines, some of which start to converge and overlap. "What's been interesting as an experience has been the high level of secrecy on this show, certainly for the audience, but also for us as a cast.
"I feel like when I watch the finale, I'm going to be surprised. There's a lot that I don't know in terms of what is coming up. Season 1 is about introducing these worlds, introducing these characters, laying the foundation to tell a very, very large story."
She recommends that viewers re-watch the whole season after screening the finale.
"If people go back and watch the season [again], I think there's going to be an interesting thing where you will start to pick up on things you might have missed when you just saw them initially," she said.
Walker praised show-runners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay for their meticulous attention to detail in plotting out the story.
"There are things in the first episode of the first season that will not pay off until the last season of the series," he said.
"It is that dense and intricate and the amount of respect and care that has gone into it will be very gratifying in the long run. Go back and re-watch it. You've missed stuff. I guarantee it."
The stars said they like the idea that multi-generations of families can watch and enjoy the show together.
"Maybe not toddlers," Walker acknowledged.
"There's a lot of blood," Addai-Robinson agreed.
"It's mostly orc blood," Walker quipped.
Walker and Addai-Robinson said they take pride that The Rings of Power might be the way younger viewers are first exposed to the magic of Tolkien.
"It's exciting to think this is going to be their entry point for the literature, and then they want to go read the books," she said. "We get to be the visual representation of Tolkien. Then they go to the source."
The ensemble of Rings of Power also includes Morfydd Clark, Sara Zwangobani, Charlie Vickers, Maxim Baldry, Charles Edwards, Ema Horvath, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Leon Wadham, Lloyd Owen, Megan Richards, Nazanin Boniadi, Owain Arthur, Robert Aramayo, David Weyman and Tyroe Muhafidin.