Amazon Studios has confirmed twenty additional cast members who have joined the streamer’s The Lord Of The Rings TV series, an adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels. Production on the sprawling drama, which was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, is currently underway in New Zealand. It resumed in late September.
Top British comedian Lenny Henry, Ozark and Westworld‘s Peter Mullan, Lloyd Owen (You, Me and the Apocalypse), Augustus Prew (CBS’s Pure Genius), The LOTR movie franchise’s Peter Tait, Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow, Power) and Simon Merrells (Spartacus: War of the Damned) are among the new additions, along with Maxim Baldry, Ian Blackburn, Kip Chapman, Anthony Crum, Maxine Cunliffe, Trystan Gravelle, Thusitha Jayasundera, Fabian McCallum, Geoff Morrell, Alex Tarrant, Leon Wadham and Sara Zwangobani.
No information is provided about the characters the actors are playing; Owen is believed to play Loda, an earthy man.
Of the 20, Blackburn, Chapman, Crum, Cunliffe, Tait, Tarrant and Wadham are local actors from New Zealand, while the rest hail from Australia, Sri Lanka, the UK and the US.
“The world that J.R.R. Tolkien created is epic, diverse, and filled with heart,” said series’ executive producers/showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. “These extraordinarily talented performers, hailing from across the globe, represent the culmination of a multi-year search to find brilliant and unique artists to bring that world to life anew. The international cast of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series is more than just an ensemble. It is a family. We are thrilled to welcome each of them to Middle-earth.”
The 20 new LOTR cast members join the 15 announced by Amazon in January: Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, and Daniel Weyman.
Set in Middle-earth, the television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.
The LOTR series, which is filming its first season and already has been renewed for Season 2, is led by Payne and McKay; joined by filmmaker J.A. Bayona, who is directing the first two episodes and serving as executive producer, alongside his creative partner Belén Atienza. Lindsey Weber, Bruce Richmond, Callum Greene, Gennifer Hutchison, Jason Cahill, Justin Doble and Sharon Tal Yguado also executive produce.
Here are official bios of the newly announced LOTR cast members:
CYNTHIA ADDAI-ROBINSON most recently was a series regular on the Starz series Power. Cynthia previously co-starred alongside Ben Affleck, JK Simmons and Anna Kendrick on the big screen in Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant (Warner Bros) as ‘Marybeth Medina,’ one of the lead roles. Cynthia also can be seen starring alongside Ryan Phillipe in the USA series Shooter. Known for her breakout role as ‘Naevia’ in Spartacus: War of the Damned, Cynthia’s roles include the major recurring role of ‘Dr. Vicki Glass’ in Chicago Med, ‘Amanda Waller’ in the CW hit show Arrow; the female lead of ‘Dr. Emily West’ in the History Channel miniseries Texas Rising alongside Bill Paxton and Ray Liotta. Her guest star credits include Law & Order: CI; CSI: Miami; Numb3rs, Flash Forward, and The Vampire Diaries, to name a few.
MAXIM BALDRY starred as ‘Viktor’ in Russell T Davies’ critically acclaimed BBC and HBO drama Years and Years. Maxim’s interest in acting developed from a very young age, taking part in several stage productions and being part of the National Youth Theatre. His first breakthrough came from his role as ‘Stepan’ in Mr. Bean’s Holiday, starring opposite Rowan Atkinson, which earned him a nomination at the Young Artists Awards for Best Performance in a Feature Film. His further credits include Universal’s Last Christmas; the latest installment of BBC’s Doctor Who; a guest lead in the final series of Sky One and Cinemax’s action-adventure series Strike Back; Lake Placid: Legacy; Channel 4 cult series Skins: Pure; BBC’s Sadie J and HBO’s Rome. Aside from acting, Maxim is heavily involved in music and photography and has written an experimental musical film which is now in development.
IAN BLACKBURN is an 18-year-old actor, born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand. While at school, Ian performed in multiple plays including Wellington High School’s annual Shakespeare Society production of The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, and a 2020 production of The Tempest in which he played ‘Prospero’. He appeared in the 2016 short film Unbreakable Beau. He also participated in the Roxy 5 short film competition and took part in the remake of the winning film Shelter, in 2017. He also played a leading role in the 2018 short film Behold the Ghost, playing a boy who, along with his two siblings, battles with grief for his abusive father.
KIP CHAPMAN is a recipient of New Zealand’s highest Arts honor, an Arts Foundation Laureate, receiving a New Generation Award in 2013. Kip trained as an actor at UNITEC’s School of Performing and Screen Arts in Auckland, New Zealand graduating in 2002. He was a core cast member of the Emmy Award winning drama Top of the Lake directed by Jane Campion and in the films 6 Days and Fantail. He has performed at every major theatre company in New Zealand. In 2017, he was the Creative Director of the World of Wearable Arts. He was the co-creator/writer/director of Hudson & Halls, which won Best Theatre Production at both the Auckland and Wellington Theatre Awards and Best Director in Wellington. He was the co-creator/writer/director of the interactive theatre show APOLLO 13: Mission Control, and the director of the World Premiere production of That Bloody Woman.
ANTHONY CRUM hails from Whangarei, and is an actor and standup comedian based in Auckland, New Zealand. Anthony starred as ‘Griffin’ in the short film Foam and as ‘Rat-Tail’ in the 2020 TV series The Wilds. On stage he’s appeared as ‘The Beauxhomme’ in Once on this Island, ‘The Bürgermeister’ in The Visit, and ‘Caliban’ in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Anthony began acting when he was 15 playing The Third Witch in a comedic rewrite of Shakespeare’s Macbeth by Robert Pollock. He went on to train at The John Bolton Theatre School in 2014 where he developed skills in Clown and Melo-drama. In 2018, Anthony graduated Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School with a Bachelor of Performing Arts and in his final year starred as ‘Isaac’ in the short film Hush which featured in the 2019 Berlin Film Festival.
MAXINE CUNLIFFE is a versatile London-born actor and musician from a Sierra Leonean and Caribbean heritage who has lived in New Zealand since the early 2000s. Maxine is best known on screen for Power Rangers Megaforce (2013), and short films Divinity (2015) Reset (2016) and Fract (2016). In 2016, Maxine also appeared as a presenter in TV One’s Neighbourhood. Her stage appearances include playing chorus and cello in an all-female cast performance of Henry V, and Hippolyata in an AUSA Outdoor Summer Theatre production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. She was also featured playing the cello in the TV series The Wilds.
TRYSTAN GRAVELLE’s TV credits include a series regular role in AMC’s The Terror, National Treasure (BBC One) A Discovery of Witches (Sky 1), Baptiste (BBC One), Trying (Apple TV) and James Graham’s Quiz for ITV, among others. He recently featured alongside Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn in the BAFTA award winning feature film Beast. Trystan’s theatre credits include King Lear (The Globe), The Changeling (The Globe), Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (The National) An Oak Tree (The National) The Norman Conquests (Chichester Festival Theatre).
SIR LENNY HENRY is one of Britain’s best known comedians, as well as a writer, philanthropist and award-winning actor. Sir Lenny starred in The Comedy of Errors at The National, Fences at the Duchess Theatre, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at The Donmar and most recently August Wilson’s King Hedley II at Theatre Royal Stratford East in 2019. Television credits include Broadchurch, The Syndicate, The Long Song and his biographic Danny and The Human Zoo. His production company Douglas Road partnered with Burning Bright on the recently acclaimed The Commonwealth Kid documentary. Sir Lenny is a co-founder of Comic Relief and released his memoir Who Am I Again? in October 2019. He has been a Trustee of the National Theatre since February 2016.
THUSITHA JAYASUNDERA’s theater credits include Donmar, Our Town (Regent’s Park Theatre), Stories, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Crime and Punishment, War Horse, The Caucasian Chalk Circle (National Theatre), The Divide (Old Vic/King’s Theatre Edinburgh), My Eyes Went Dark (Finborough/Traverse), The Vertical Hour (Park Theatre), The Nine O’Clock Slot (iceandfire), Tiger Country (Hampstead Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (Chester Performs), Marine Parade (The Old Market Theatre, Brighton), A Day at the Racists (Finborough), Dreams of Violence (Out of Joint/Soho Theatre & Tour), Much Ado About Nothing (Actors for the London Stage), International Writers Festival Summer 2006 (Royal Court), Grimm Tales (International Tour), Twelfth Night, As I Lay Dying (Young Vic), The Comedy of Errors, Cain, Peer Gynt, Pentecost (RSC). Her TV and film credits include: Midsomer Murders, Doctor Foster, Humans, The Foreigner, Broadchurch, The C Word, Lewis, Diana, Doctors, Silent Witness, Young Dracula, The Jury, Above Suspicion, The Bill, Goodnight Sweetheart, Signal to Noise, Holby City, House Across the Street, The Tempest.
FABIAN MCCALLUM made his international screen debut alongside Megan Mullally, Rob Lowe and Jenna Fischer in British series You, Me & The Apocalypse. Prior to that, he guest starred in German/Australian co-production In Your Dreams and in short films including Meryl Tankard’s Moth alongside Sophie Lowe. A graduate of NIDA, Fabian has also studied with the National Youth Theatre in London.
SIMON MERRELLS recently played Templar Knight ‘Tancrede’ on History’s drama series Knightfall. He began his career in theatre, performing in works from The Royal National Theatre and The Royal Shakespeare Company. He garnered attention for his work with Steven Berkoff, namely the title role in Oedipus and as washed up boxer ‘Terry Malloy’ in On the Waterfront both for which he received a nomination for Acting Excellence from the Stage Awards. Recently, he won Best Actor for his role in Stephen King’s I Am the Doorway from the Las Vegas Movie Awards. He also worked in films such as The Wolfman with Benicio del Toro, IndeX Zero, Take Down, ‘Lorenzo di Medici’ in Florence and the Uffizi Gallery for Sky Arts 3D, and recently played a recurring role in Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. His other television roles include guesting on Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, BBC’s The Musketeers, as well as recurring roles on Syfy’s Dominion, The CW’s Tomorrow People, and most notably, playing ‘Marcus Crassus’ on Starz’ Spartacus.
GEOFF MORRELL has been nominated five times in the leading actor category at the AACTA awards for the series’ Changi, Marking Time, Fallen Angels and twice for Grassroots, for which he won in 2001. He has also been nominated for four Silver Logies. Most recently, he has appeared in Top Of The Lake: China Girl (Foxtel), Rake (ABCTV), Cloudstreet (Foxtel), Please Like Me (ABCTV), Harrow (ABCTV), The Code (ABCTV). Other credits include Blue Murder (ABCTV), Murder Call (CH 9), Blue Heelers (CH 7), 8MMM Aboriginal Radio (ABCTV), Home and Away (CH 7), The Bill (Thames TV), Monocled Mutineer (BBC), Lady Windermere’s Fan (BBC), and Farscape. Film roles include Oranges and Sunshine, The Mule, Ned Kelly, Oscar and Lucinda, 10 Empty, Rogue, No Worries and View From Greenhaven Drive. Geoff was most recently seen in the national tour of Nakhia Lui’s award winning hit Black Is The New White for the Sydney Theatre Company.
PETER MULLAN is a veteran Scottish actor and filmmaker. He won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for My Name is Joe. The Sundance Film Festival awarded Peter a World Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Breakout Performances for his role in Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur. His feature film work includes roles in Riff-Raff, Braveheart, Trainspotting, Miss Julie, Young Adam, Children of Men, The Red Riding Trilogy, War Horse, the Harry Potter film series and The Vanishing. Also a director, he received a Golden Lion at Venice International Film Festival for The Magdalene Sisters. His feature film Neds won Best Picture at the San Sebastian Film Festival and Best Director and Best Writer at the BAFTA Awards. He has recently appeared in Netflix’s Ozark, HBO’s Westworld, Netflix’s Cursed, ITV’s The Fixer, and BBC’s Mum, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA. He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for his portrayal of ‘Matt Micham’ in Gerard Lee and Jane Campion’s miniseries Top of the Lake.
LLOYD OWEN trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and later joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. Notable performances include the title roles in The York Realist at the Royal Court/Strand Theatre, Blood & Gifts at The Lyttelton, The Bodyguard at The Adelphi, and with Dame Diana Rigg and David Suchet in the award-winning production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He starred alongside Mathew Perry in The End of Longing at The Playhouse, and with Imelda Staunton in the critically acclaimed Good People at the Noel Coward. His extensive film credits include the recent Bollywood blockbuster Thugs of Hindostan, Miss Potter, and Wonderwell, as well as playing the leading role in Apollo 18 for Dimension Films. On television, he is best known for the UK series Monarch of the Glen, and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, the lead in Viva Laughlin for CBS as well as the NBC/Sky production You, Me and the Apocalypse. He recently completed a sold-out run of Noises Off at The Garrick theatre.
AUGUSTUS PREW can next be seen as the lead role of ‘Cameron’ in the Blumhouse Hulu Anthology series Into The Dark: Midnight Kiss and Mike Doyle’s film, Sell By. He can currently be seen on Netflix’s Special and Apple’s Morning Show with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. Augustus’ television credits include the series lead in CBS’s Pure Genius, the recurring role of ‘Whip’ in Fox’s Prison Break, the title role in Mike White’s HBO pilot Mamma Dallas, and The Borgias for Showtime. Most recently, he appeared in the role of ‘Miles’ in the Netflix film Ibiza. Previously, Augustus was the lead in The Wallis production of The Pride in the principal role of ‘Oliver’. Additional credits include the independent film High-Rise opposite Tom Hiddleston and Sienna Miller, Klondike with Richard Madden, Kick-Ass 2 opposite Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Charlie St. Cloud opposite Zac Efron.
PETER TAIT has been working in the industry since the early 1980s, creating his own work as well as appearing in NZ projects and international TV and film. As evident in his own work, Peter has a penchant for offbeat comedy, however roles in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Desperate Remedies have given him the ability to show another side to his talents on the big screen. Peter has most recently been making his mark in NZ television, with roles in local shows including Super City, Terry Teo, Underbelly NZ, and two seasons of The Brokenwood Mysteries and Westside. He also sings and plays guitar in award winning musical Once.
ALEX TARRANT hails from Auckland, New Zealand and is of Māori, Samoan and Niuean descent. He is a 2012 graduate of New Zealand’s prestigious drama school Te Kura Toi Whakaari o Aoteraroa. Following study, he played leading roles in the WW1 miniseries When We Go To War, the BBC co-production Tatau, and 3 seasons of the Australian hit 800 Words. He then joined the core cast of the award-winning racy drama Filthy Rich, which streamed on Hulu. In 2019, Alex again joined the core cast of the sequel to the Australian cult series Seachange. 2019 also marked his international feature film debut, with the release of The Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith. His second feature, sci-fi thriller Night Riders was shot recently in Canada, and he returned to NZ screens in the comedy Mean Mums.
LEON WADHAM is a graduate of Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School. He was a series lead in TV2’s Go Girls and has appeared in numerous New Zealand television projects including Bad Seed, Brokenwood Series 5, When We Go To War, Terry Teo and Pirates of the Airwaves. His film projects include Under The Mountain, Shopping and Pork Pie. His international screen credits include Power Rangers Beast Morphers, and Roman Empire (Season 2). Leon co-wrote the play Live At Six, co-created Tom Keeper Passes for Long Cloud Youth Theatre as well as both Outsider’s Guide and Milky Bits for comedy outfit The Bakery. He was a staff writer on the TV3sitcom Sunny Skies, and he co-wrote and directed the short films School Night and Moving. Leon has also directed New Zealand television series including Golden Boy Series 1 and 2, The Male Gayz, Citizen’s Handbook and Bad News (Series 1 and 2), the latter of which Leon co-created and has received nominations at both the 2019 and 2020 NZ TV Awards.
BENJAMIN WALKER is an established American film, television, and award-nominated theatre actor. He was most recently nominated for a Tony Award for his standout performance of ‘Chris Keller’ in Arthur Miller’s Broadway play All My Sons. Ben just wrapped a lead role opposite Liam Neeson and Laurence Fishburne in the independent feature The Ice Road. Other film work includes In the Heart of the Sea, Flags Of Our Fathers, Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, and The Choice. Ben also starred in the final season of Netflix’s Jessica Jones. His theater credits include the lead role of ‘Andrew Jackson’ in the Broadway production Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and the role of ‘Brick’ opposite Scarlett Johansson in the Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
SARA ZWANGOBANI graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with a BA in Acting. Her feature film credits include Disgrace (produced by Emile Sherman) and Merchant of Fairness. She has appeared in many popular Australian television shows such as Doctor Doctor, All Saints, Packed to the Rafters, Love My Way, Home and Away, Two Twisted, as well as The Starter Wife (3 Arts Entertainment) and Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (Coote Hayes). On stage Sara has performed in Sydney Theatre Company’s In The Next Room (Or the Vibrator Play), A Streetcar Named Desire, The Crucible, Summer of the Aliens and Antony and Cleopatra, Girl in Tan Boots for the Griffin Theatre Company, Lyrebird for the Old Fitzroy, Dirty Butterfly, Imago, and Women In Shorts at Downstairs Belvoir, The Tempest at Bondi Pavilion, and Cloud Nine at the Darlinghurst Theatre. Sara toured Australia playing ‘Mark Antony’ in the Bell Shakespeare Theatre Company’s ground-breaking production of Julius Caesar.