London, New York, Tokyo: there is not a great city in the world that, in recent weeks, has not been invaded by an army of advertisements power rings, Prime Video’s new series on The Lord of the rings. From large billboards to the sides of buses, at the heart of this marketing campaign is the figure of Galadriel -character originally played by Cate Blanchett-, whose long blonde hair and steely gaze became instantly familiar. “I still can’t believe she was going to be so famous,” he says. Morfydd Clark, the new Galadriel, lounging in a chair in a London hotel. “I can’t think about it too much, because I don’t have a vision. It’s very strange.”
The welsh actresswho has previously starred in acclaimed films such as Saint Maud Y The Personal History of David Copperfield (plus supporting roles in dracula for BBC and series His Dark Materials), it has gone from relative anonymity to total ubiquity in the blink of an eye. In recent weeks he greeted hundreds of fans of J. R. R. Tolkien at San Diego Comic-Con and appeared on several late-night talk shows on American TV.
And yet it shines fresh. “I feel like we’re all somehow constantly on drugs,” she explains. “There will be a period of reflection in which we will be saying ‘What happened in the last three years?'” Ready or not, the journey she’s embarked on is about to turn her into trademark. This is no small thing, given that its name requires that every interviewer go looking for dubious pronunciations on YouTube, where robotic voices try to articulate their automated tongues with the double “dd” of the Welsh alphabet.
“I feel weird talking about this,” she says when asked if her native language is an endangered species. extinction. “When I was a teenager, I was more like ‘Welsh is a shitty language, Welsh is a dead language. Why do you even bother talking about it?'” Clark grew up in Penarth, one of the southernmost towns in Wales, close to the cosmopolitan center of Cardiff. “People are much more excited now. It still has a long way to go, because what we’re seeing as a Welsh experience is very white, whereas Cardiff is a very diverse city. It’s a good time for all the small groups.”
Describe Clark as “elvish” would be objectionable laziness, given that her role in the series is precisely queen of the elves, the so-called “Lady of the Forest” of Lothlórien. But just as Martin Freeman spent much of his career waiting for the call to play a Hobbit (there is something in his face that makes you imagine him barefoot, smoking a pipe and wandering through the fields), Clark has a angular Beauty, at times both innocent and austere, seeming to shout “elf!”
“I thought I was much more likely to be a hobbit than an elf,” he says, a very nerdy form of modesty. “I think I have a slightly unnerving face. I can come off as quite extreme and a bit evil. Which, I guess, is a bit elvish!”
In his adolescence he went to see the films of The Lord of the rings with his family. “My parents love books”, remember. “My dad read me The Hobbit… I watched the movies wishing be in Middle-earth.” The “community,” she says, resonated strongly with her as a group of fictional characters rather than a potential career. ‘” he says. But it wasn’t until he reached the 30 yearsin 2019, which was cast in her own Tolkien adventure.
Before that, he attended the now closed Drama Center in London, whose roster of alumni included Michael Fassbender, Colin Firth and Anne-Marie Duff. “Drama school is very particular,” she says. “Very, very strange.” Winning a place in a prestigious educational institution, as all aspiring actors know, it is not a guarantee of success. “I think you realize how much luck has to do when you go to acting school, because you’re with an incredibly talented group of people, and the prognosis is that It won’t happen for everyone.”
So what was your lucky moment? “First, I am Welsh, and had just come out Gavin and Stacy (a popular BBC series about two families, one English and one Welsh), so that was a lucky break. The other part is that I had a family that really supported me, and was able to do it emotionally and financially, if I needed to. And another thing, I’m white and conventionally pretty.”
None of that seems particularly lucky; perhaps the best slice of luck came in being cast in the critically acclaimed psychological horror film Saint Maud (by Rose Glass), and in Armando Iannucci’s charming return visit to David Copperfield, released in 2019, when the fantastic leviathan of Amazon Prime Video.
The filming schedule The Rings of Power required that he move to New Zealand, the cinematic home of Middle-earth, between October 2019 and August 2020. In that time, certain world events threw production into chaos. “We had to close everything, like everyone else,” he says. “New Zealand, in a very fortunate or very strategic way, reacted in a very particular way. there was no covidso we kept working, but no one could go out.” His friends and family in Britain were not so lucky. “I had Zoom parties with all my friends, at 6am NZ time, and they worked out the woes drinking.”
This bubble in the antipodesSeparated from the world far more than Clark could have hoped for when she signed her contract, she changed the nature of the process. “Often you don’t meet the people who are in a movie or a series with you,” she says. “And that it felt much more like a theatrical work. We were all in Auckland, crossing all the different story lines.”
And the series has many threads, from Galadriel’s monomaniacal pursuit of the dark sorcerer sauron (known to viewers as the great flaming eye from the original trilogy) to the new character of Eleanor Brandyfoot -who cares for a strange, heavenly creature-, going through the work of Elrond building a suspicious giant forge. If the makers of game of Thrones they are tired of their show being defined as “The Lord of the rings for bigger people”, it seems fair to rebalance the scale and say that this feels like “Game of Thrones for the entire family”.
the rings of power it is the most expensive television series in historythe first to cross the billion dollar line. Amazon spent 250 million just to acquire the rights, an agreement that allows him to produce 50 hours of content taken from the appendices written by Tolkien. “My grandfather introduced me to Tolkien,” he said at the premiere. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and one of the richest people on Earth. “I fell in love immediately.” This enthusiasm gave the creators a blank check to develop a amazing new vision of Middle-earth.
But outside the luxury suite where the interview takes place, the streets are full of newspapers with headlines about energy pricesthe increase in inflationand even from Amazon workers protesting for a pay rise. How does Clark deal with the cognitive dissonance of starring in such a lavish production at a time like this? Is it a form of what might be called an appropriation of Tolkien, a cynical use of those beloved books to reframe the narrative around the world’s second largest company?
“I think we should listen to the workers, and that people are being very brave right now,” he offers diplomatically, as a PR rep fidgets. “You have to constantly reevaluate, and think about what you’re doing and the effects it’s having. And I think, particularly as actors, it’s important not to forget that we’re part of bigger things in this crazy world.” The antidote? “I listen to a Phoebe Bridgers record a lot, Punisher. Is about have a good time at the end of the world.”
“Going back to Wales… all the film studios that have opened there have made a huge difference to the work,” he continues. “I think art and movies are becoming things that people can spend a trillion dollars on, which is hard to understand. And then, at times I prefer to go to my little elven world.”
* Of The Independent From great britain. Special for Page 12.