Rings of Power star reveals how his character almost changed LOTR history
Isildur failed to throw the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. But what of his father, Elendil?
We all imagine what we’d do with unimaginable power. Would we be benevolent and caring? Would we be selfish and exploitative? When the rules no longer apply, what guides our actions then?
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, absolute power takes on the form of the One Ring, a relic forged by Sauron during the Second Age to gain dominion over Middle-earth. The only way to destroy the Ring is to cast it into the fires it was forged: the fires of Mount Doom.
On paper, destroying the One Ring is simple. But in practice, its alluring power means it would take tremendous, Green Lantern-esque willpower to resist the Ring and destroy it.
But at least one star of Amazon’s epic prequel series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, believes their character would have been strong enough.
Actor Lloyd Owen, who plays Elendil in The Rings of Power, tells Inverse that Elendil — who begins the series as a widowed father and ship captain — may have been strong enough to cast the One Ring into Mount Doom if he had the ring. It’s in contrast to his son Isildur, who failed to follow through when given the chance (as depicted in the prologue to Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring).
“I posed the question to the [show’s] Tolkien professor,” Owen tells Inverse. “I asked him that question, whether he felt that Elendil, if he had the opportunity, would throw it into the fire. He said, ‘Yes’ immediately, and quite emotionally. Quite an instinctive reaction.”
Owen’s account is in contrast to what he told Collider prior to speaking with Inverse, where he said that Tolkien scholar Corey Olson said Elendil would still succumb to the Ring’s power. Now, Owen says Elendil might have had it in him to vanquish evil. But if he did, we wouldn’t have three amazing books and three dope movies.
“What would Tolkien say about anyone who puts that ring on?” Owen asks, rhetorically.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power strives to tell the story about the forging of the Rings of Power, including the all-mighty One Ring.
The saga famously ends at Mount Doom, when Frodo succumbs to the Ring’s power and has it bitten off his finger by Gollum, who carries it with him as he falls to a fiery demise.
But the saga could have ended earlier when Isildur, King of Arnor and Gondor, cut the One Ring off Sauron’s hand and had the chance to throw it into Mount Doom. The power of the Ring was too great, however, and Isildur never threw it in. Isildur later perished in an ambush, and the Ring would find a new owner in Sméagol (aka, Gollum).
Elendil, the father of Isildur and first High King of Arnor and Gondor, might have been someone who could have resisted the Ring’s power, says Owen. Often likened to the biblical Noah by Tolkien himself, Elendil, alongside Gil-galad, led the “Last Alliance” of Men and Elves against Sauron at Barad-dûr. After Elendil fell, Isildur used his father’s sword to slice the One Ring from Sauron.
Ruminating over the possibilities, Owen tells Inverse that he doesn’t know if it’s the Ring or the ring-bearer that decides its fate. “Is there something about Isildur’s personality that makes him not throw it? Is it the person? Or is it the Ring? Is it the combination of Ring and person?”
“I think Tolkien’s themes of human fallibility, susceptibility to ego, vanity, and power, would mean it’s an interesting question to pose. And it’s not one that needs to be answered by us.”
The Rings of Power won’t have all the answers, but Owen says he still found it a worthwhile question during filming. “Just in terms of me opening up this character, as a fully rounded human being, that felt like a good question to ask, about what's innate and what's put upon from outside,” he says.
Adds Owen, “There's no limit to the discovery of Tolkien. I heard someone else talking to a scholar and in the middle of a sentence [they were] stopping saying, ‘I’m not sure if this is right.’ Because the truth about Tolkien is that there’s always someone out there who knows more than you.”
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power streams new episodes Fridays on Amazon Prime Video.