During San Diego Comic-Con 2022, actress Sophia Nomvete discussed becoming the first woman Dwarf in J.R.R. Tolkien’s adaptation. Nomvete stars as Disa, wife of Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), a Second Age ruler and bearer of one of the rings of power.
Nomvete revealed she auditioned for the role just two days before giving birth. During production, the seams in the shoulders of her costumes were crafted so she could remove the outfits easily to breastfeed as a new mother.
The prequel series is co-created by showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay using appendices and footnotes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels to focus on a fresh story in Middle-earth, set thousands of years before the events of “The Lord of the Rings.” The co-showrunners, who were both present at 2022 SDCC, previously said that they had no interest in doing a spinoff series.
“We wanted to go way, way, way back and find a story that could exist on its own two feet,” McKay told Entertainment Weekly. “This was one that we felt hadn’t been told on the level and the scale and with the depth that we felt it deserved.”
The large ensemble cast includes Peter Mullan, Benjamin Walker, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, and more. However, the diverse series has already sparked racist backlash for its casting choices.
“It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like,” Lindsey Weber, executive producer of the series said. “Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together.”
But not everyone is set on the casting of the elves. When the studio originally released a photo of its multicultural cast, Amazon was immediately met with vitriolic online trolling, as fans took to social media to slam certain roles based on race and gender.
“Obviously there was going to be push and backlash,” Tolkien scholar Mariana Rios Maldonado told Vanity Fair, “but the question is, from whom? Who are these people that feel so threatened or disgusted by the idea that an elf is Black or Latino or Asian?”