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‘The Rings of Power’ Showrunners Explain Show’s Connection to Tolkien: ‘This Story Isn’t Ours’

"We feel like deep roots of this show are in the books and in Tolkien," said co-showrunner Patrick McKay. "And if we didn’t feel that way, we’d all be terrified to sit up here."

The Lord of the Rings The Rings of Power Amazon Prime Video series orcs

“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”

Ben Rothstein / Amazon Prime Video

Few upcoming shows have higher expectations attached to them than “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” Amazon’s upcoming fantasy epic isn’t just the most expensive television show ever produced, it’s also based on one of the most popular book series of all time. On top of that, Peter Jackson’s first trilogy of “Lord of the Rings” movies set the standard for fantasy filmmaking, so “The Rings of Power” will inevitably be compared to that as well.

That’s a lot of pressure for showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne. They’re dealing with the high expectations by placing all of their trust in J. R.R. Tolkien, focusing on making the show as true to the books as possible. When a reporter at the Television Critic Association’s press tour on Friday noted that the show was “vaguely connected” to Tolkien’s books, the showrunners pushed back (via The Hollywood Reporter).

“I just want to sort of quibble with the ‘vaguely connected,’” said Patrick McKay. “We don’t feel that way. We feel like deep roots of this show are in the books and in Tolkien. And if we didn’t feel that way, we’d all be terrified to sit up here. We feel that this story isn’t ours. It’s a story we’re stewarding that was here before us and was waiting in those books to be on Earth. We don’t feel ‘vaguely connected.’ We feel deeply, deeply connected to those folks and work every day to even be closer connected. That’s really how we think about it.”

“We think about [Tolkien], his life’s work was creating this world. This is Tolkien’s Middle Earth and regions beyond Middle Earth and we just wanted to be true to that,” he added. “Tolkien’s work is endlessly applicable across cultures and across across times, and we feel really grateful to be able to bring it to life in our time.”

The comments come after Peter Jackson recently revealed that he was asked to consider working on the show, but never received the scripts Amazon offered to send him. At the time, THR reported that his ghosting may have had something to do with the fact that the Tolkien estate was closely involved with “The Rings of Power.” Tolkien’s children were famously opposed to Jackson’s films, so many felt that it made sense that they would not want the Oscar-winning director working on the project. All signs point to the series having an even stronger Tolkien influence than previous films.

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