Fixing the dwarven women gap in The Rings Of Power

Still from the series The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power. PHOTO: PRIME VIDEO/AMAZON STUDIOS

SINGAPORE - In The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (2002), dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) jokes that the women of his race are so rarely seen by outsiders that they believe that "dwarves just spring out of holes in the ground".

The joke became prophecy because neither The Lord Of The Rings (2001 to 2003) nor The Hobbit (2012 to 2014) films featured dwarven women in a meaningful way, when elven and human women had prominent roles. That fault can be traced to J.R.R. Tolkien's writings, which mention them only briefly.

The Rings Of Power finally fills the gap with the character of Princess Disa (played by English actress Sophia Nomvete), who is the wife of Durin, a dwarven prince played by Welsh actor Owain Arthur.

Like the human Halbrand, her character has been invented for the Amazon show and does not appear in Tolkien's works.

Nomvete, 32, says the inclusion of Disa is a "huge moment" for fans of The Lord Of The Rings stories because of her character's range of possibilities - she is kind, but is also capable of being a "bada**".

"There is a warmth to her, a gentleness and softness that works well when compared with Durin. She is strong, in a position of power and stands in equal stead to her husband," she adds.

She was speaking at an online press conference and seated with her were castmates Leon Wadham, Trystan Gravelle and Benjamin Walker.

New Zealand actor Wadham, 22, plays Kemen, another character invented for the show, who comes from a line of humans from the island kingdom of Numenor. Blessed by the spirits who forged the world, Numenoreans are wealthier, stronger and more technologically advanced than humans elsewhere.

Wadham says he was astounded at the support given to actors trying to understand the connection between Tolkien's lore and how their characters should speak and move.

"There are so many people who care deeply about this project - there are dialect coaches, movement coaches and designers, and I was able to learn from them whenever I needed guidance," he adds.

English actress Sophia Nomvete at the special screening of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" at the Lincoln Center in New York City on Aug 23, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

American actor Walker, 40, plays High King Gil-galad, leader of the elven kingdom of Lindon. His character, unlike those of castmates Nomvete or Wadham, appears in Tolkien's writing and is also a link to elf characters who appear in the movies, namely Lady Galadriel (played by Australian actress Cate Blanchett in the films and Welsh actress Morfydd Clark in the series) and Elrond (English actor Hugo Weaving in the movies and English actor Robert Aramayo in the series).

Walker says Elrond, for example, "is still in his adolescence" in the Second Age and is "on the journey" to becoming the Elrond that people know from the films.

"That's the joy of the series," says Walker, as viewers are exposed to the origin stories of familiar characters and can see how Gil-galad is a "tough, loving parent" to them.

"You let your child climb a tree and then you say, 'Okay, you're up there, and now get yourself down.' That's a pretty good metaphor for our relationship."

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