‘Lord of the Rings’ Alums Elijah Wood, Sean Astin Support ‘Rings of Power’ Amid Racist Backlash
The cast of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” are going where they must, with hope.
Trilogy alums Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan, and Billy Boyd took to social media to show their support for the diverse cast of Prime Video’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” series. The stars wore T-shirts with a design showing a row of elf ears with different skin tones. Both Wood and Astin tweeted photos with the caption, “You are all welcome here.”
The actors starred in Jackson’s 2001 “The Fellowship of the Ring,” followed by 2002’s “The Two Towers,” and “The Return of the King” in 2003. Wood starred as Frodo, who sought to destroy the One Ring with the help of Samwise (Astin), Merry (Monaghan), and Pippin (Boyd).
The shirts the four actors wore are designed by artist Don Marshall and are for sale with 50 percent of the proceeds benefitting a POC charity that has yet to be announced. Astin also modeled a hat with the same design.
“The Rings of Power” star Ismael Cruz Cordova commented, “Much love,” and co-star Benjamin Walker wrote, “Thank you guys.”
The Prime Video series debuted September 2 and broke streaming records on the platform. However, audience reviews were suspended due to anticipated “review bombing,” when users en masse upload negative reviews as retaliation for “perceived cultural or political issues rather than its actual quality.” Tesla CEO Elon Musk was among those who slammed “The Rings of Power” for a lack of likable, strong male characters.
Whoopi Goldberg recently had strong words for racist reactions to diversity in “Rings of Power” on an episode of “The View” (via Variety). Goldberg took issue with the fact that, for some fans, creatures like hobbits and dragons are allowed to exist in the series’ universe but Black actors aren’t.
“They don’t exist in the real world,” Goldberg said. “You know that? There are no dragons. There are no hobbits. Are you telling me Black people can’t be fake people too? Is that what you’re telling me? I don’t know if there’s like a hobbit club, I don’t know if there are gonna be protests, but people! What is wrong with y’all?”
Co-created by showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay and already set for a five-season order, “The Rings of Power” actually anticipated racist backlash. When the studio originally released a photo of its multicultural cast, Amazon was immediately met with vitriolic online trolling, as fans took to social media to criticize certain roles based on race and gender.
Series executive producer Lindsey Weber said, “It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like. Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together.”
J.R.R. Tolkien scholar Mariana Rios Maldonado previously told Vanity Fair, “Obviously there was going to be push and backlash, but the question is, from whom? Who are these people that feel so threatened or disgusted by the idea that an elf is Black or Latino or Asian?”
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