Showrunners and John Howe reveal more about Rings of Power
As September 2 approaches, we’re seeing more and more glimpses of what’s to come in Prime Video. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Most fans will have already seen the stunning images and read the interviews in the latest edition of EMPIRE magazine – including artist John Howe’s incredible snow troll sketch, which features on the cover of the special edition of EMPIRE. subscribers.
In early May, when staff members Justin and greendragon were invited by Amazon to join a group in London, to see footage of power rings and to speak with showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay, John Howe was also part of the gathering. There were gasps of delight from many onlookers when it was introduced; all were delighted to have the chance to speak with such a legend. It was also reassuring to hear, from his own mouth, that Howe is actively involved in the design and creation of this new adaptation of Middle-earth.
That same day, Prime Video also gave us a closer look at three costumes from the show. Stay tuned to greendragon for more on what we saw and heard that day; we will also share posts from other sites, YouTubers, tiktokers and fans who were there. To start, here are Justin’s thoughts:
[Continuing the high levels of secrecy around this show, there were no phones or recording devices allowed; therefore all quotations are paraphrased from notes & recollections.]
As the lights came on from the very first glimpse of power rings images (some of which we’re expecting in the first proper trailer released at SDCC) the jitters in the air were thick; not only from the thirty or so fans gathered, but also from showrunners Payne and McKay. Will we like them? Are we two?
“We were all with you, refreshing TheOneRing.net daily for the latest Peter Jackson movie news!” McKay told us. These lifelong, Ivy League Yale-educated, church-bound fans might be closer to JRR Tolkien than any filmmaker who came before them. They study every book, review, note, letter, and interview Tolkien shared, to understand his motivations and inspirations. It is this deep knowledge of Tolkien’s background that has inspired the trust of so many of Tolkien’s influencers.
As the showrunners wrapped up the open-ended Q&A, the biggest surprise of the trip to London happened – artist John Howe walked out with a sketchbook in hand. He explained how he got involved, how much work went into power ringsand answered questions from a cast of amazed scholars, fans, and podcasters.
“They kept asking me to draw things they were considering. There are 40 sketchbooks filled with drawings for this show. Howe then opened his sketchbook to the original Ice Troll drawing. I find it very curious that our very first leak of the ROP set was pictures of an icy mountain set, then leaks of a snow troll (instead of a cave troll), which continued up to the Super Bowl teaser featuring the troll, and now John Howe Sketch. Did Amazon leak the photos of the freezing set in the first place, part of a long marketing game? Or is Prime Video responding to leaks out of control and only revealing what has already been suggested? Howe did not turn the page to show other drawings.
When asked how he separated this new work from the award-winning (and trademark-protected) work with Peter Jackson, John Howe responded with incredible awareness and insight. “We are all professionals here in the room. You all understand how to run your business. Whether I’m designing movies, book covers, or a streaming show, there are creative briefs to answer. But those responsible also know what they take away from all my previous work. Howe went on to explain that the real creative separation in Jackson’s films is actually the INSPIRATION in the new places this show visits. “We have never seen the ocean areas of Middle-earth, and it is incredibly exciting for me to discover the great seas and areas that have not been explored. This is the real change from what that happened before.
While John Howe had a plane to catch, showrunners Payne and McKay hung out with fans for social conversations in the lobby, where three actual costumes were on display. Both guys held their own in deep conversations with several doctors, such as “The Tolkien Professor” Corey Olsen and Dr Una McCormack. At any fan event filled with world-renowned expert podcasters, there’s a tendency to weed out inauthentic creators with deep lore questions. Again, Payne and McKay held their ground. There’s a reason the reaction a few weeks ago was unanimously favorable to the showrunners: they know their Tolkien and they know the lore.
power rings Showrunner Patrick McKay suddenly confronted me in the lobby, as his conversation circle moved to catch up. Matt (Nerd of the Rings) was shocked by some of the things we talked about – secret things that I’m still hesitant to reveal. McKay wanted to know how I felt about the images. He was extremely interested in my honest opinion. He cares about what we think, about our response to hard-earned work over the past three years, whether we feel he’s doing the right thing for Tolkien and for the fans. My direct response was that the pictures “looked like they should” as I wrote a few weeks ago. It wasn’t the overwhelming enthusiasm I think he wanted, but it’s the legacy this whole show faces: The most awarded films in entertainment history set a high bar set by New Line Movie theater.
In closing, here’s an exclusive comment I’ll be sharing today: McKay was adamant that this sword (below) is NOT Narsil, despite our early reports of spying on people who have laid eyes on scenes featuring this sword. We will find out what is true on September 2; but I can’t help but remember how adamant JJ Abrams was that Cumberbatch was NOT Kahn. The only job these showrunners had in Hollywood was working for JJ Abrams, before landing that dream gig in Middle-earth…