Here's your guide to the elves, dwarves, harfoots, and humans of Amazon Prime Video's fantasy epic.
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Amazon Prime Video's upcoming fantasy epic has a massive cast, boasting 22 series regulars who hail from around the world. Created by JD Payne and Patrick McKay, the show is set during the Second Age of Middle-earth, a sprawling time period set centuries before the events of The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. Some characters will be familiar to fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's, while others are entirely new creations for the show.

The Rings of Power doesn't premiere until Sept. 2, but EW has an exclusive look at the series' creation, including brand-new images and behind-the-scenes interviews. Here, we break down some of the show's key cast members and who they play — from elves and dwarves to harfoots and humans.

Galadriel (Morfydd Clark)

Morfydd Clark as Galadriel in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

Most audiences are likely to recognize Clark's golden-haired elf, who was played by Cate Blanchett in the Peter Jackson film trilogy. But at the time of The Rings of Power, this immortal heroine is still centuries away from becoming the sage leader of Lothlorien. Having lived through the war and atrocities of the First Age, she now seeks peace, but she can't shake the feeling that evil might be returning to Middle-earth.

Known for her roles in Saint Maud and the His Dark Materials television series, Clark jokes that she never dreamed of playing an ethereal elf. "I always saw myself as more of a hobbit," she says with a laugh. Still, she says her fluency in Welsh made it easier to learn Elvish, and she found herself drawn to this younger, less regal version of Galadriel. Plus, she adds, she loved the ceremony of putting on the her armor each day.

"Rehearsing in my joggers in an office as Galadriel, that was probably the least fun," she says. "How can you pretend to be an immortal, thousand-year-old magical being in that? Then you get in the ears and the costume, and you're like, 'Thank God. Now it makes sense.'"

Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson)

Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Míriel in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

Tolkien wrote frequently of the ancient island kingdom of Númenor, ruled over by powerful humans of half-elven heritage. The island looms large through Tolkien's legendarium, but The Rings of Power will be the first time it's been depicted on screen. (Many of the great men of The Lord of the Rings, including Aragorn, Boromir, and Faramir, all descend from the Númenóreans of old.)

When the show begins, the island is led by queen regent Míriel. American actress Addai-Robinson, perhaps best known for playing Amanda Waller on the CW's Arrow, portrays the regal ruler. Míriel has a deep love for her homeland, but there are tensions lurking under the surface of this seemingly idyllic civilization.

"There's something relatable about how isolating that can feel and how you are grappling with things that no one else can really understand," Addai-Robinson teases. "You have very few people who you can confide in, and you're aware of the implications of any decision that you make. She is burdened with the responsibility of making decisions for the greater good and wanting to maintain some stability in Númenor, but she understands that there are rumblings. There's something in the air."

Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh)

Markella Kavenagh as Nori Brandyfoot in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

There are no hobbits in The Rings of Power. Those tiny, pint-sized halflings didn't exist at the time of the Second Age. But the show will include harfoots, early predecessors to the hobbits all Tolkien fans know and love. Similarly diminutive in stature, these harfoots haven't yet settled in the Shire, preferring instead to wander as nomads and live in close-knit communities.

One key harfoot is Elanor "Nori" Brandyfoot, played by Australian actress Markella Kavenagh. Most harfoots lead a quiet, under-the-radar existence, but Nori has a Baggins-like yearning for adventure. "She's a really resolute, inquisitive, and curious harfoot," Kavenagh teases. "She leads with the idea that the fear of risk can be greater than the risk itself."

The show begins with Nori and her closest friend Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) discovering a mysterious man (Daniel Weyman), who seems to have fallen from the sky in a flaming meteor. Together, Nori and Poppy must figure out whether to trust him. "Sometimes her risk-taking can put other people in danger," Kavenagh teases. "But, ultimately, she does it with the best of intentions."

Elrond (Robert Aramayo)

Robert Aramayo as Elrond in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

Another familiar face is Elrond, played in the Jackson trilogy by Hugo Weaving and here by Aramayo. The British actor is no stranger to big-budget fantasy television, having appeared in Game of Thrones as a young Ned Stark. Here, he takes on another iconic role: Elrond, the future leader of Rivendell.

When The Rings of Power begins, the young Elrond is not yet an elf lord. Instead, he's an ambitious young politician of half-elven heritage. He's also got a powerful family legacy to live up to: His father Eärendil is a mythic figure who helped save Middle-earth from evil, and his brother Elros chose a mortal life, going on to found the human kingdom of Númenor. Unlike his brother, Elrond picked immortality, and he's now searching for his purpose in the regal elven realm of Lindon.

"There's still a lot he has to learn," Aramayo says. "He's sort of battling with the past, or at least that's how I felt, anyway. His father saved the world, which is a lot to live up to."

The young Elrond grows up to be a well-read loremaster, so Aramayo threw himself into research, poring over Tolkien's complicated mythology.  "Being half-elven, what does that mean?" Aramayo asks. "You can read about that choice, and you can read about what happened and why he made that choice, but as an actor, you start thinking, well, how did it feel to make that choice? How did it feel to watch your brother grow old and die, even though you were born the same? So yeah, I am a nerd, but what's fun is trying to bring your actor self into it as well."

Durin IV (Owain Arthur)

Owain Arthur as Durin IV in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and friends journey into the abandoned caverns of Khazad-dûm, a.k.a. Moria. At the time of The Lord of the Rings, this once-great dwarven kingdom has fallen into ruins, but in The Rings of Power, Khazad-dûm is still thriving, ruled over by leaders like Arthur's Prince Durin IV.

The Welsh actor plays the young dwarf with a fiery passion, deeply proud of his kingdom and loyal to his wife Disa (Sophia Nomvete). Arthur jumped at the chance to play the powerful dwarf leader, but he quickly realized that playing Durin meant that he had to spend about three hours in the makeup chair each day.  

"The first thing that excited me about it was that I got to wear prosthetics," Arthur says with a laugh. "The inner child in me was really looking forward to it. And then the adult Owain kind of went, 'Oh no, this is going to happen every single day. I have to wear prosthetics and this wig and this beard that stops me from having my lunch.'"

Arthur's costars laugh as they remember watching him on set with a face covered in prosthetics, his massive beard tied behind his head as he struggled to eat peanuts or sushi for lunch. "I'm not even gonna start explaining to you how I had to go to the toilet," Arthur adds, shaking his head in dismay. "I would be here all day."

Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova)

Ismael Cruz Córdova as Arondir in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

Much of the show will focus on powerful elves, each with their own legendary family tree. But one of the main heroes of The Rings of Power is a far more unassuming figure, a silvan elf named Arondir. As a soldier stationed in the Southlands, Arondir helps keep watch over the humans who live there — humans who, centuries ago, aligned themselves with the evil Sauron.

"There's so many qualities to the role, but being a non-canon character, there's also a boundless possibility," explains Córdova, who says that as a young kid, he would carry an imaginary bow and pretend he was an elf. "It just felt like a fertile landscape to create."

Arondir also strikes up a forbidden relationship with a human named Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi). Together, they begin to investigate mysterious happenings in the Southlands.

"I've always been drawn to the underdog," Córdova adds. "In the hierarchy of it all, he's just a soldier, so I wanted to explore that. But he has that energy, that fire, and that determination — and the love that he has for Bronwyn is the galvanizing aspect that carries him through this awesome journey."

Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi)

Nazanin Boniadi as Bronwyn in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

Bronwyn resides in the Southlands of Middle-earth, where she lives with her young son Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin) and works as a healer. Boniadi is best known for roles on General Hospital, How I Met Your Mother, and Homeland, and she says she was immediately drawn to the heroic human healer, especially since the actress herself studied pre-med in college.   

As a British actress born in Iran, Boniadi says she could also identify with Bronwyn's love for her homeland and how she fights to keep her people safe, even as a group of elves maintain an oppressive watch. "As a people, they're trying to redeem themselves from the shackles of their past," Boniadi explains. "She wants to liberate her people from that. I've been an activist for my homeland for over a decade, so that resonated with me. On many levels, it's like a fantastical version of myself."

Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker)

Benjamin Walker as Gil-galad in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

There's a poem recited in the original Lord of the Rings, where Samwise Gamgee tells the story of "The Fall of Gil-galad." That legendary elf king is a key player in The Rings of Power, played by American actor Walker, known for roles in Jessica Jones, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Broadway musicals like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

When The Rings of Power begins, Gil-galad is a stoic and ageless leader, ruling over the golden elven realm of Lindon. Walker describes him as "ever vigilant in the preservation of peace," and he soon starts to sense that something may be amiss in Middle-earth.

"Everyone knows Gil-galad from that song that Sam sings, but there isn't a wealth of information about him in the text," Walker explains. "My favorite part is that he has this odd gift of foresight. He's prescient, and he's ahead of the curve. He can kind of feel the pulse of evil rising. He's attuned to the life force of Middle-earth, and he's chosen to stay."

Disa (Sophia Nomvete)

Sophia Nomvete as Disa in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

Nomvete didn't know much about her mysterious role when she first auditioned for The Rings of Power, but one of the words used to describe the dwarven princess was "maternal."  Fortunately for Nomvete, she had an advantage: When she taped her audition, she was about eight days from giving birth to her daughter. "I thought, well, you don't get much more maternal than that," the British actress says with a laugh.

Disa is married to Durin IV, and the two have a loving and playful relationship. She's also the first female dwarf in any screen adaptation of Tolkien's work, and Nomvete notes that yes, she does have facial hair (although her sideburns aren't as obvious as her husband Durin's epic beard).

Halbrand (Charlie Vickers)

Charlie Vickers as Halbrand in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

One of the series' more mysterious figures is the mortal castaway Halbrand, who soon crosses paths with Galadriel. He accompanies her as they travel from the Sundering Seas to the island of Númenor.

"There are a few things about Hal which are quite interesting, particularly his relationship with Galadriel," Vickers teases. "He's coming from this place in his past where he's trying to let go of his past and move on. But in meeting her, she starts to illuminate some things in his mind and things about his past and his destiny that he maybe hadn't considered. It makes him look at things in a different way."

Vickers appeared in the TV series Medici, and to play the role of Halbrand, he went through rigorous stunt training and learned to hold his breath for complicated underwater scenes. But perhaps his most trying day on set was during the audition process as he screen tested with Clark. "It was like a full day on set, but just one scene," he remembers. "I had to eat so much salami because that was in the scene, which was later cut from the show, thank God. But I ate so much, over and over again. Eventually I stopped swallowing the salami, and there was this one poor guy whose job it was to come up with gloves, and I would have to spit the salami back into his hands."

Sadoc Burrows (Lenny Henry)

Lenny Henry as Sadoc Burrows in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

Nori travels with a nomadic tribe of harfoots, and they travel across Middle-earth together, keeping a low profile and hiding from the so-called "Big Folk." Acclaimed British actor and comedian Sir Lenny Henry plays the harfoots' leader, Sadoc Burrows, who watches over his fellow harfoots and keeps an eye out for trouble.

Isildur (Maxim Baldry)

Maxim Baldry as Isildur in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

Isildur isn't a main character in The Lord of the Rings books, but he still plays a major role in the original trilogy. This Númenórean sailor grows up to be a mythic figure in Middle-earth, helping to found the kingdom of Gondor and ultimately slicing the One Ring from Sauron's hand. His refusal to destroy the Ring ultimately leads to his downfall, and he eventually loses it in the River Anduin, where it's picked up years later by Smeagol — a.k.a. Gollum. (If you've seen the prologue to Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring, you've heard Isildur's story.)

Isildur is also the direct ancestor of Aragorn, and his legacy looms large throughout the original Lord of the Rings. But when The Rings of Power begins, he's still a young man living on the island of Númenor with his father Elendil (Lloyd Owen) and his sister Eärien (Ema Horvath).

"You see Isildur as a young man at a crossroads, wanting to pursue his father's shoes and become a ship's captain, but there's also something that's pulling him away from that and pulling him into this romantic view of life outside of the city," Baldry teases. "There's something new out there. There's an emptiness in him, and he's grieving his mother. He wants to find himself, and it's a beautiful story of a young man trying to find his way in life. He makes mistakes along the way. He's not a well-rounded character yet, but there's a lot of love in him for his sister and his family."

Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards)

Charles Edwards as Celebrimbor in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

The Crown and Downton Abbey alum Charles Edwards plays another legendary Tolkien character. This elf is brilliant with a hammer and forge, and his reputation stretches beyond the elven realm of Eregion and throughout Middle-earth. Descended from legendary First Age craftsman Fëanor, who forged the three Silmarils, Celebrimbor is a brilliant artisan who strikes up a friendship with the dwarves in nearby Khazad-dûm. Eventually, however, he's manipulated into crafting several rings of power — which helps kickstart Sauron's inevitable rise.  

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