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'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' creators already know the final shot of the series finale
Need further proof that Amazon's Lord of the Rings series is one of the most ambitious and thought-out productions in the history of television? Well, here you go: the creators behind the uber-expensive Rings of Power (arriving this September) already know how the show will end after its planned five-season run.
"We even know what our final shot of the last episode is going to be," co-showrunner and executive producer J.D. Payne teased to Empire for the magazine's latest issue (now on sale). "The rights that Amazon bought were for a 50-hour show. They knew from the beginning that was the size of the canvas — this was a big story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. There are things in the first season that don't pay off until Season 5."
Inspired by supplemental materials included at the end of J.R.R. Tolkien's third LoTR novel — The Return of the King — the project takes place in Middle-earth's Second Age, several thousands of years before Frodo and the rest of the Fellowship set out on a grand adventure to cast the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. War has finally ended, allowing a tenuous atmosphere of peace and prosperity to reign throughout the land, but, of course, a great evil is a-brewin'.
The decision to explore this untapped era of Tolkien's mythology afforded Payne and fellow co-showrunner/EP Patrick McKay enough distance from the Oscar-winning Peter Jackson films, whose magic are impossible to recreate.
"We didn't want to do the TV version of Lord of the Rings," McKay explained. "We wanted to do a story in Middle-earth that deserves its own space on the shelf alongside the novels and films ... Anyone approaching Lord of the Rings onscreen would be wrong not to think about how wonderfully right [Jackson] got so much of it. But we're admirers from afar, that's it. The Rings of Power doesn't try to compete with him."
Payne continued: "We had to ensure we were bringing something fresh to it and expanding the map. We weren't interested in a sequel or prequel or a rehash or nostalgia. It had to stand on its own two feet as something that felt faithful — but also its own thing."
With that said, The Rings of Power does feature a number of familiar faces like Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) — both of whom play major roles in the race to defeat Sauron in the main novels. Hobbits won't appear in the story, but fans will get to meet their distant ancestors, known as Harfoots.
"It was like Tolkien put some stars in the sky and let us make out the constellations," Payne said. "In his letters [particularly in one to his publisher], Tolkien talked about wanting to leave behind a mythology that 'left scope for other minds and hands, wielding the tools of paint, music, and drama. We're doing what Tolkien wanted. As long as we felt like every invention of ours was true to his essence, we knew we were on the right track."
Filmmaker J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), who serves as an executive producer and helmed the first two episodes, claimed that The Rings of Power can't be categorized as a work of television, but "a new form we're creating here."
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power ventures onto Prime Video Friday, Sep. 2.
Looking for some fantasy content to tide you over for the next four months? Click here for our list of the best fantasy films available on Peacock.