The billion dollar budgeted LOTR: The Rings of Power drops today September 2nd on Amazon Prime: the star and cast hit the red carpet in a magical transformed Leicester Square in London for the World Premiere: amongst the cast is one of the UK’s much loved Kings of comedy and actor Sir Lenny Henry.
Henry who hit the comedy circuit as a teenager has many strings on his bow but is still excited to be a part of LOTR partly because in The Rings of Power there is a more diverse cast, “since I was eight I would read comics and books but I did not see myself” say Henry who plays Sadoc Burrows, a character who does not appear in the legendarium and was created for the show. Alt caught up with him on the red carpet.
ALT: With a career that spans several decades what would you say that still motivates you?
Lenny: I just love, love the idea of a new challenge, to be asked to be in something like this was extraordinary. I never expected to be in a Lord of Rings a Tolkien style story. So, to be invited, to come and film in New Zealand over a couple of years, because of a lockdown was amazing. I was made to feel welcome, and they really facilitated and made sure that we were made to feel welcome. And it was a lovely experience. I really can’t say anything bad about it, it was great.
ALT: How different is being in one of the biggest fantasy series out there compared to anything that you’ve done previously in your career?
Lenny: Well, first of all, we’re harfoots. We’re a nomadic hobbits we’re a thousand years before all those guys. So, we are nomadic, we’re tough. We are very much about survival, anything terrible happens in our neighbourhood we get a cart; we pick it up and we walk the 150 miles to the next place where there’s fresh water and trees with fruit on them. So, we are tough people. We don’t want to be in any trouble we want to survive. We just run if there’s trouble. But what’s great about Tolkien stories is eventually the little guys are gonna be involved in the big story and you’re gonna have to watch it, but it’s awesome.
ALT: You have done a variety of jobs from presenting to production why is that?
Lenny: I’m trying not to be a Jack all trades master, but I do love, I love working and I love to see what I can do and push myself. So, this was massive. This is a huge world, and I’ve wanted to be in a world like this since I was eight because I’d read comics and books and I’d not see myself. So, to see the Human Torch say flame on or to see Spiderman swing, I always thought, wouldn’t it be great to be able to do that. And finally, in the 21st century, people are going, you know what? These stories should look like the real world and how great is that?
ALT: Could you just tell us a little bit about the moment that you found out?
Lenny: It was amazing. We, me and my girlfriend had set up cameras in the kitchen phones on top of books and iPads on the broomstick, and then we did the audition and I kind of went well, you know, if anything happens great.
And then when they rang, I literally was in my pyjamas, and I did a dance around the kitchen. It wasn’t quite the candy dance, but it was trying to, it was literally that in the kitchen for quite a long time, without any music, I was literally making the music myself. It was joyful. We need some joy in our lives, right?
ALT: Was there any pressure because of you being black in this role?
Lenny: You know, what, even if it does these guys, didn’t make me feel like I was under any burden at all. It was hard work. Don’t get me wrong because being a harfoot is new, nobody knows what a harfoot is, how they talk. We had to learn all these new skills, movement, dialect the way we looked, and every aspect of this production made it like a gift here. Here’s your costume, here’s your, the way you look. And it was just glorious to be part of it. They made it really easy for us, but I’m very grateful for it.
ALT: What is it like being here in Leicester Square for the Premiere?
This has been a very strange day, but we’re loving it. All of us. We haven’t seen each other for months and, I’ve been watching it on film and going ha yeah, I’ve be doing that on film. So to see us all together and to talk about how excited we all are, is glorious. We’re loving it.
ALT: What was it like filming during Covid?
You know, what was wonderful was they made resources available, costumes, set, design, everything was done to make us feel comfortable on set. It was still tough because we’re doing an acting job. And, we worked really hard and we got up at three o’clock in the morning every morning I was in make up four and a half hours, five hours every day, but it was worth it.
What is your character’s motivation and what are some of the challenges or joys of this character?
Challenges? Keeping the Harfoots together. He’s the elder of the village. he’s supposed to keep everybody out of trouble and when there’s trouble, it’s his job to make everybody gather their carts and move 150, 200 miles away to the next place. And we walk everywhere, which is why we have got big feet and because this is the beginning of a new cycle of stories, what happens is change. He sees that change is coming for anybody else, and it’s basically his job to make a decision. Do we run and hide or do we stay? And of course the big thing is to run and to go someplace else, the trouble follows them.
ALT: As an advocate for diversity, how does this production stand up because this are one of the things that you wanted for Lord of Rings to have a more diverse cast?
Lenny: It is so great to see Sophia Nomvete and Ismael Cruz Cordova, and to see all the people of color in the show, and also to see women playing on the front foot role in this show, you know,
We want to be in things, and we want to create things where kids can be at home, whoever they are, whatever gender they are, and they can go, I want to do that. I could do that. And I think this is the beginning of the whole thing. If you, if you can’t be it, you can’t see it. This is the beginning of the reverse of that. You know, if you see Ismael with a bow and arrow kicking butt, you know, kids at home are gonna be, oh, I want to do that? And that’s really exciting.
And Lenny, how would you describe Lord of the Rings in three words?
Spectacular, exciting moving.
Thank you so much for talking to ALT A REVIEW.
For the first time, the events that lead to the forging of the rings in J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous Lord of the Rings series is to be told in Amazon’s new live-action series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, premiering Sept. 2 on Prime Video