SPOILERS ALERT: Don’t read if you haven’t seen the two-episode premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”
At the conclusion of the first episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, one of two episodes released by Amazon Prime Video on the series launch day, young Harfoot Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh) follows a fiery object, who has shot down from the skies of Middle-earth and finds a mysterious, scantily clad man unconscious in the center of a flaming crater carved into the earth. At the end of the second episode, Nori and her best friend Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) watch as the tall man, played by Daniel Weyman and referred to only as “The Stranger”, throws fireflies into the sky to create what Nori one holds maps of specific stars that he’s trying to find – before those fireflies burn out and fall to the ground.
Who is this person, why do Nori and Poppy not understand his language, where is he from, why did he come to Middle-earth and what is his goal? These are the questions Rings of Power fans will be asking until the third episode comes out next week. But to bridge the gap until then, Lord of the Rings stars Kavenagh and Richards had some breadcrumbs to feed them diversity about Nori and Poppy’s mysterious relationship with The Stranger and the apparent threat his proximity to the Harfoot community could pose.
“Daniel Weyman, who plays The Stranger, which is just wonderful and brilliant – I remember we sat down together and we kind of figured out together who The Stranger was. Not just as characters, but as actors,” Kavenagh said. “Like, what does it mean? Who was this being? Why did he give the impression that they needed help? what is their relationship What is their connection, the dynamic? It was amazing, it was the most incredible exam I’ve had the privilege of doing. And I had the privilege of doing it with Daniel.”
She continued, “It’s just been a constant workshop and we’ve been cooking dinner and talking about it and improvising a lot over dinner, which is really weird because, as you know, he’s the stranger. But it was incredibly helpful to be able to do that with someone so receptive. He’s amazing. What you have seen is just the beginning of a truly believable and compelling performance from him. there [was] often on set where I found it difficult to be fully present because I just admired him as an actor.”
Meanwhile, Richards had a very different approach to The Stranger, as her character Poppy is incredibly concerned about getting involved with this “giant” who she feels has no place near her, and Nori’s community of little Harfoots who hope to protect themselves from the dangers of The Outside World.
“When things get mixed up, Poppy doesn’t like it because the rules are there for a reason and the Harfoot community lives in a very specific way and it works for them,” Richards said diversity. “It happens so often that Poppy says, ‘I don’t want to help you, why should we help you? No.’ She says that all the time. And because of the loyalty she has to Nori, and also because Poppy can be a bit naughty at camp and Nori has some stuff with her, she’s going along with it. Poppy’s relationship with The Stranger is very special. Poppy takes a very long time to trust other beings, even beings within the community, and she is so strong-willed and so determined that she is constantly torn.”
Behind the scenes, Richards says, she, Weyman and Kavenagh worked through the physicality of this trio’s dynamics in an exercise that might not immediately come to mind, in preparation for the adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s work.
“Markella and I improvised with Daniel Weyman very early on [in ‘The Rings of Power’ production], in a park,” Richards said. “And what we discovered is that Nori and Poppy’s relationship is very much like a rubber band. So we tied an elastic band around each other, one of those yoga bands, and when “Nori” would pull, “Poppy” had to either fling or pull back because of the elasticity. So we kept exploring and discovering that. But Poppy is also growing a lot, and she learns so much from Nori throughout the series. Their ideas about change are also beginning to develop.”
https://variety.com/2022/tv/features/rings-of-power-stranger-explained-nori-poppy-1235354381/ Rings of Power: The Mystery of the Stranger Explained with Nori and Poppy