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Cynthia Addai-Robinson was standing on high of a mountain within the South Island of New Zealand, an space with a 360 diploma view of the island solely accessible by helicopter, on considered one of her first days of filming The Rings of Energy when every part clicked for her: She was in The Lord of the Rings. “I had this inside second of simply recognizing what I used to be about to be a part of,” Addai-Robinson says over a Zoom name from Los Angeles days earlier than the premiere of Rings of Energy. “It sounds tacky, however I used to be in Center-earth abruptly.”
Addai-Robinson performs Queen Míriel in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Energy, Amazon Prime Video’s prequel set 1000’s of years earlier than the occasions of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit motion pictures. The collection—which value a reported $1 billion to supply, making it the costliest TV present of all time—relies on the appendices of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels, notes that define the historical past and tradition of Center-earth, the world the place the collection is about. Míriel, who makes her debut in episode 3 of Rings of Energy on September 8, is the Queen Regent of Númenor, an island west of Center-earth impressed by the legend of Atlantis. “After I acquired forged, I felt like I simply received the lottery,” Addai-Robinson says. “I felt like I used to be plucked up and positioned into Center-earth. The position of Míriel has been a little bit of a protected haven for me.”
However Míriel wasn’t the one Rings of Energy character Addai-Robinson auditioned for. She first learn for Bronwyn, a job she had helped different actor buddies take a look at for earlier than she obtained the identical audition herself. She despatched in a self-tape on the finish of 2019. That tape led to a different tape which led to a studying with the director of the primary two Rings of Energy episodes,, J.A. Bayona. “At that time, I used to be pondering, ‘OK, if I’m studying for the director, I’m getting shut. This might occur,’” Addai-Robinson recollects. “It didn’t occur. It went away. I bear in mind being gutted, pondering, ‘I used to be so shut after which it was gone.’ I mourned it, and that was that.” A pair months later, Addai-Robinson was requested to audition once more, this time for a unique position: Míriel. She despatched in her self-tape and the world shut down. “As soon as the pandemic began, it was the furthest factor from my thoughts,” she says. “Like everybody else on the planet, you weren’t positive what the longer term was gonna maintain.” Later that summer season, after a spherical of chemistry reads over Skype, Addai-Robinson discovered she had booked the position of Míriel.
After I acquired forged, I felt like I simply received the lottery.
She was at house in lockdown along with her husband, director Thomas Hefferon whom she had eloped with simply weeks earlier than, when she obtained the information that she can be transferring to New Zealand in a matter of weeks and she or he couldn’t inform anybody. “I signed NDAs. We primarily left and didn’t say goodbye to any buddies or household,” she says. “It was like leaving at nighttime to go to the opposite facet of the world.” However for Addai-Robinson, who has been working for greater than 20 years and has starred in supporting roles in reveals like Energy and Chicago Med, Míriel, considered one of 5 important characters in Rings of Energy, is extra than simply one other job. “I used to be searching for one thing like this. However possibly this was searching for me. It’s mutual looking for each other,” she says. “I can get woowoo about destiny and timing and issues occurring once they’re presupposed to, but it surely did really feel that means. I understand how laborious I’ve labored to get so far. Nothing is unintentional or coincidental. There’s a whole lot of work that went into attending to this place and one of these position in one of these venture. However I really feel like I’m not directly nonetheless at first of this journey. The journey of creating it.”
I learn you auditioned for an additional Rings of Energy character earlier than Míriel. What was it?
It was Bronwyn. However what’s superb in regards to the casting is everybody who inhabits their character really has the essence of that character. I can’t think about anybody however Naz (Nazanin Boniadi) in that position. You must belief when issues in the end don’t go your means, there’s a purpose for that. I needed to have that second of every part occurs for a purpose. What’s been lovely is when the position of Míriel got here to me, I didn’t know what it was going to ivolve. I didn’t know a lot in regards to the character. They’d saved all the character names a secret. They’d coded names and the auditions have been simply made-up sides. As soon as I noticed what I used to be going to get to do with Míriel, it did really feel fated. It felt like that is the position I’m presupposed to play. That is the individual that I’m presupposed to inhabit. All of it did work out because it was meant to work out.
Have been you conscious of how standard The Lord of the Rings franchise was earlier than you turned part of it?
I had seen the films earlier than. I hadn’t learn the books. A part of it was I had consciousness of the literature, however I felt prefer it wasn’t as simply accessible for me. I don’t suppose anybody essentially inspired me to learn the books. What I’m most enthusiastic about with Rings of Energy is the visible illustration of the tales and characters. I’m hoping that audiences, and even that baby model of me, will get so into this, that they then return to the books. Now they really feel like they’ve a degree of entry as a result of they see a visible illustration they’ll simply establish with. The perfect literature speaks to universality. However typically you want that hook, you should see that feminine character that appears such as you or reminds you of somebody, and also you go, “I really like that character. Now, I wish to learn the books.” I do know there are a whole lot of adults which have grown up with these tales, and, in fact, we wish to give them one thing that excites them as properly. However I’ve a whole lot of nieces and nephews that are actually understanding this can be a large mega epic. It makes me suppose again to after I was a child and the way hungry I might have been to have this. How a lot I might have needed to see that in TV and movie, particularly within the fantasy style. Not essentially simply Tolkien, however the fantasy style may be very white, male-heavy. That is about transferring this style ahead. Fantasy, and I believe Tolkien, is about inclusivity. As a result of it’s about folks from completely different cultures coming collectively for a standard trigger.
Did you ever think about you’ll be in a present like The Rings of Energy?
I all the time considered myself as anyone who may very well be a important character, and I didn’t wish to place myself as somebody on the facet. Now, it wasn’t all the time as much as me. It’s typically lower than actors. Typically you’re pegged as the very best good friend when you already know you could have a lot extra to supply. There have been many alternatives I had that sense of frustration of they’re simply not even going to think about me. It wasn’t essentially I assumed it was all the time about my ethnicity or my race. On the finish of the day, I used to be by no means going to know, however I simply needed to all the time make sure that I used to be investing within the characters and making an attempt to current them as totally realized human beings. The business nonetheless has an extended strategy to go. However actually my time within the business, I completely have seen progress. Being in Rings of Energy, I by no means would have imagined that. Lots of people wouldn’t have imagined it. There’s that sense of progress. Each time you could have a small victory like that, it helps for the following set of inventive minds who will now have the ability to dream up these tales and dream them in a extra inclusive means. After I’m sitting down to look at a brand new present, particularly within the style area, my private need and expectation is to see variety.
The fantasy style may be very white, male-heavy. That is about transferring this style ahead. Fantasy is about inclusivity.
What has your response been to the seemingly racist and sexist criticism from some followers?
I don’t even know the place it stems from. After I take into consideration this explicit model of toxicity, whether or not it’s racist or misogynistic, there’s additionally a deep cynicism and to me, that’s probably the most poisonous issues of all. It may possibly unfold and it may make folks lose themselves. It’s a actuality. It’s all the time been there. But it surely does tie in with what Tolkien’s exploring. You must resolve for those who’re going to let these issues overtake you or for those who’re going to have the power to face within the face of that. It’s laborious to be relentlessly optimistic, however I discover that to be the larger power. I believe cynicism and toxicity are fairly weak. It’s an excellent train to attempt to all the time lean towards the sunshine and deal with the optimistic.
How do you suppose Míriel is completely different than different Lord of the Rings characters followers have seen?
The character of Queen Regent Míriel and all the feminine characters on this adaptation are so totally realized. They’re so complicated, considerate and—to not overuse this phrase—however robust, as a result of they’re. They perform independently of male characters. They’ve their very own full interior lives. With Tolkien and a whole lot of his tales, they’ve tended to be very male-heavy and about male fellowship and a whole lot of relationships by way of males referring to different males. For followers of Tolkien, we’re attending to current feminine characters with company. That, to me, is the very best factor of all as a result of I believe that’s going to really feel recent and new, regardless that it’s lengthy overdue.
How do you suppose The Rings of Energy is completely different from the films?
Most individuals are aware of Tolkien’s diversifications by way of the Peter Jackson movies. That’s the Third Age. For our collection, we’re setting the Second Age, which spans 1000’s of years. There’s a whole lot of story to cowl and to mine. With Númenor and the a part of the world I signify, nobody has ever depicted Númenor on display screen. That is the primary time we’re displaying what Númenor seems to be like. There are a whole lot of features of the present which might be going to be new to viewers for the primary time, and issues which might be going to be acquainted. We’re aware of elves. We’re aware of dwarves. However as a result of we’re 1000’s of years earlier than. We’re in a time of relative peace. We’re in a time of relative prosperity. There’s a lot that occurs from the place our collection begins, and the place it’ll in the end finish. Even for those who’ve by no means learn Tolkein or seen any of the earlier movies, you might be utterly new to this and you might perceive and benefit from the story. It’s not a prerequisite to have seen or learn something upfront.
How do you suppose Center-earth displays the true world?
Like many individuals in lockdown, my thoughts and coronary heart—every part I used to be pondering and feeling, I used to be overwhelmed. It’s a pleasant overlap with Míriel as a result of throughout the story, she’s the queen regent of the island kingdom of Númenor. It’s a society that’s at its peak, and in the end, there’s a downfall. You will have a frontrunner that’s making an attempt to information her folks by means of a time of change. There’s a whole lot of complexity to the storyline and to this world in the identical means we’re residing in complicated instances. All the pieces I used to be enthusiastic about and feeling, I had Míriel to navigate that for myself. The factor about Tolkien’s tales and the explanation why we might even do an adaptation at this cut-off date is that these tales are timeless. You possibly can relate it to at the moment. On the finish of the day, the very best tales endure as a result of they may all the time resonate. There’s all the time one thing you might draw a line between what’s occurring in considered one of his tales and what’s occurring at the moment. This adaptation goes to have a worldwide attain. There are going to be lots of people in numerous components of the world—with very completely different units of circumstances—who will all see one thing in these characters and worlds and have the ability to perceive them and relate to them. Any parallels usually are not so particular as to solely relate to 1 group. Everybody will have the ability to see these tales and have an instantaneous understanding of what it’s to be scared, what it’s to be humbled, what it’s to really feel a way of guilt, what it’s to navigate a fancy household relationship. These are all issues folks perceive. That’s what offers this story its energy.
After I’m sitting down to look at a brand new present, particularly within the style area, my private need and expectation is to see variety.
Have you ever met any of the unique Lord of the Rings forged members?
I haven’t, however I might like to. When you’re a part of any Tolkien adaptation, you hope that paths will cross as a result of it’s this very distinctive fellowship. It’s such intensive work we did. I bear in mind listening to tales about people who labored on the Peter Jackson motion pictures, and it appeared like a equally intensive and immersive expertise. I’m positive if our paths ever cross, we may all share a pint and chuckle about all of the issues we’ve skilled. However Rings of Energy may be very a lot its personal adaptation—separate from the films. What’s great is all of those diversifications get to coexist. Individuals who love the films, I hope, once they see the collection, they see one thing that’s acquainted, but in addition completely different. It’s uniquely its personal factor.
What’s a job folks can be shocked you auditioned for?
I bear in mind I auditioned for J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, the primary film. I acquired to learn for the position of Uhura with him, and I used to be a large J.J. Abrams fan. Nonetheless am. The actual fact I used to be going to satisfy him in particular person, I used to be making an attempt to strike the stability of I’m fangirling out and making an attempt to get this position and do an excellent job. That was a kind of ones the place I felt like, “OK, if I’m getting referred to as again, I’m getting in these rooms, I should be doing one thing proper.” I bear in mind pondering, “Wouldn’t or not it’s superb to not solely be in Star Trek, however to play an iconic position like Uhura?” But it surely was nonetheless early days for me. I nonetheless had an extended methods to go earlier than I had that sense of confidence and build up my resume. I used to be nonetheless very unknown.
Do you are feeling stress for Rings of Energy to dwell as much as the expectations of Lord of the Rings followers?
It’s humorous as a result of we’ve been requested that query rather a lot over the course of doing this press tour. Considered one of my different forged mates was answering the opposite day that he has felt stress, and I mentioned, “Effectively, you already know, stress makes a diamond.
Photographer: Carlyle Routh
Stylist: Andrew Gelwicks at The Solely Company
Make-up: Billie Gene at Unique Artists Administration
Hair: Monae Everett at Epiphany Company
Pictures Assistant: Scott Leder
Stylist Assistants: Kyle Gleason, Kelly Goldybrown