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LOTR: Rings Of Power Stars Say Cast Shut Down Racist Backlash

ScreenRant logo ScreenRant 11/1/2022 Ryan Northrup
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Ismael Cruz Córdova, Sophia Nomvete, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson explain how the cast of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power shut down and overcame the online racist backlash the show experienced. Based on the beloved fantasy novels by author J.R.R Tolkien, The Rings of Power chronicles the rise of evil during the Second Age of Middle-earth, with season 1 coming to a conclusion last month. Taking place thousands of years before the events of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Prime Video series introduces a host of new characters for audiences to root for, in addition to bringing back some familiar names.

While reception to The Rings of Power season 1 has been generally positive, the show came under intense fire before its first episode had even aired. In a departure from Jackson's approach to Tolkien's source material, the show cast actors of color in the roles of Elves, Dwarves, and Harfoots, the Hobbits' ancestors. Córdova, Nomvete, and Addai-Robinson, who play Arondir, Princess Disa, and Queen Regent Miriel, respectively, became the subjects of harsh racist backlash from a vocal minority of fans who took issue with The Rings of Power's diverse casting. Although the backlash continued throughout the airing of the show, its intensity seems to have diminished over time.

Related: Rings Of Power Explains Why The Elves Leave Middle-Earth In The FOURTH Age

In a recent interview with Variety, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power stars Ismael Cruz Córdova, Sophia Nomvete, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson reflect on the racist backlash they experienced and how they dealt with it. The actors explain that, while the backlash persists in some circles, it was shut down in many ways as their characters became more fully developed. Check out the full comments from Córdova, Nomvete, and Robinson below:

Cruz: "The fact that the attention was shifted toward that shows you what the power of shows like this is. The fact that it hit that nerve, and that our being in it created such as response, just brings attention to the greatness of fantasy, the greatness of “Lord of the Rings” and why it’s actually good that we are here. Did it become a bit too much? Absolutely! It’s taken air time from the depth of who we are as artists. But it just shows you where we are in the world and how much work we still have to do. I’m just very grateful that it’s us who are able to recalibrate, break form, reshape and make history."

Addai-Robinson: "In order to not have such an impact, the pendulum has to swing. We are right in the middle of that process. We just want to normalize. We do have to discuss it, because we are now in a space in society where need to – now and again – acknowledge exactly what is happening. That level of distraction or aggression that was put towards us – it’s been a painful journey to get there – but it has elevated us. It has put us in a position where there will be a plaque one day when the pendulum has swung to where it needs to be. We will have badges upon the people who fought the great fight in order to get to a point to where there isn’t such an eruption based solely on that, when a casting announcement comes. While it’s been a challenge, it has been a phenomenal moment to be a part of. Doors are open and accessibility is available for absolutely everyone to feel safe within a franchise and a story of this scale. It’s been really important and empowering. Tears have been shed, blood has been spilled – metaphorically – but we are here."

Nomvete: "To answer your question, we still get a ton of controversy, but there has been a shift. You know what there has been? It feels like there has been a sit-down. It feels like we had to prove ourselves, almost. We had to defend ourselves. But it’s undeniable that these people are in the position that they are in deserve to be there and should be there. There is nobody else that could have played the role. I genuinely feel that there has been a shut down. I’ve even had apologies, which I love, even if it were just one person acknowledging that that frame of mind was wrong."

Cruz: "At the beginning there was a lot of: “Tell us what you do.” The show wasn’t out. Now the characters are living in their own right. We’ve created these characters that, with the help of an entire team, live on their own and have their own impact. And as the conversation and the noise continues outside, these characters are undeniable. We’ve felt a lot of love."

Addai-Robinson: "I’ve been pretty adamant, just on a personal level, that I was never going to let the controversy define the role or define the experience. There is a certain amount of tuning out that you have to do when people are attempting to get to you. I had to try as best I could to take control of this experience for myself. It’s bigger than me; it’s bigger than us. You can have your personal reasons for being a part of something, then it sort of extends beyond. People will take from it what they take. But at this point we feel quite free and happy to just talk about the story and the characters."

How Rings Of Power Is Making Positive Changes In The Fantasy Genre

The fantasy genre has become far more popular with general audiences in recent years, due in large part to the release of Game of Thrones. Despite evolutions in terms of spectacle and effects, the genre has remained dominated by white actors. The Rings of Power is one of the first shows to shake this up significantly by casting actors of color as Elves and Dwarves, fantasy races that have historically been played by white actors. House of the Dragon, similarly, features a number of Black actors, a big departure from the primarily white cast of Game of Thrones, signaling that change is slowly but surely happening in the fantasy genre even if there is much more progress to be made.

While there have been a number of valid criticisms levied at The Rings of Power regarding narrative pacing and other storytelling issues, the backlash regarding the casting of actors of color is truly unfounded. It's likely that this backlash will continue in some form with the release of The Rings of Power season 2 and beyond, but the actors' comments suggest they're able to look past it and focus on the evolution of their characters. It remains to be seen how The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will shape the fantasy genre moving forward, but hopefully, its diverse casting inspires other movies and shows to do the same.

Source: Variety

Next: When Will We See Rings Of Power's Other 17 Rings?

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