'Lord of the Rings' Adds 20 to Sprawling Cast for Amazon Series

Augustus Prew, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Lenny Henry
Amazon

From left: Augustus Prew, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Lenny Henry

Amazon's highly anticipated Lord of the Rings TV series is coming together.

On Thursday, Amazon announced 20 new castmembers who will join the previously announced 15 set to head to Middle-earth as filming on the drama remains underway in New Zealand.

Joining the cast are Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Power, The Accountant), Maxim Baldry (Years and Years), newcomer Ian Blackburn, Kip Chapman (Top of the Lake), Anthony Crum (The Wilds), Maxine Cunliffe (Power Rangers Megaforce), Trystan Gravelle (The Terror), Sir Lenny Henry (Broadchurch), Thusitha Jayasundera (Broadchurch), Fabian McCallum (You, Me & The Apocalypse), Simon Merrells (Knightfall),​ Geoff Morrell (Rake), Peter Mullan (Westworld), Lloyd Owen (Viva Laughlin), Augustus Prew (The Morning Show), Peter Tait (Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), Alex Tarrant (Filthy Rich), Leon Wadham (Power Rangers Beast Morphers), Benjamin Walker (Jessica Jones) and Sara Zwangobani (Home and Away).

"The world that J.R.R. Tolkien created is epic, diverse and filled with heart. These extraordinarily talented performers, hailing from across the globe, represent the culmination of a multiyear search to find brilliant and unique artists to bring that world to life anew," said showrunners/executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay in a joint statement. "The international cast of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series is more than just an ensemble. It is a family. We are thrilled to welcome each of them to Middle-earth."

Amazon's LOTR will explore new storylines preceding Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring. The 20 new castmembers bring the swelling cast to a whopping 35, with additional announcements expected to come as production continues in New Zealand. Character details are not being revealed as Amazon continues to keep specifics surrounding its take on the beloved fantasy drama under wraps. (Click here to see the rest of the cast.)

Announced in November 2017, Amazon landed global TV rights to The Lord of the Rings and handed out a multiple-season commitment to the series. The drama is being produced in-house at Amazon Studios alongside the Tolkien Estate and Trust, publisher HarperCollins and Warner Bros. Entertainment's New Line Cinema. (The series was technically renewed for a second season, which is basically a formality.) Sources estimate Amazon's megadeal for LOTR is to be for five seasons — plus a potential spinoff. Insiders put the price tag for global rights alone to the series at $250 million and believe once things like budgets, casting and visual effects are factored in, the price tag could hit $1 billion. (Yes, $1 billion for a TV show.)

Based on J.R.R. Tolkien's iconic fantasy novels, Payne and McKay (Star Trek 4) serve as showrunners on the series. J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) is set to direct the first two episodes and will executive produce, along with his producing partner Belén Atienza. Writers Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad), Jason Cahill (The Sopranos) and Justin Doble (Stranger Things) are also EPs, as are Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Callum Greene (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) and former Amazon head of genre Sharon Tal Yguado. Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones), who served as a consulting producer on season one, has departed to focus on development. EP Gene Kelly has also departed the series.

A premiere date for LOTR has not yet been determined. Pre-pandemic, Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke told The Hollywood Reporter that the "hope" is that LOTR will be on the air in 2021. As part of the LOTR deal, the show must be in production within two years of the original pact. It's unclear if the production delays prompted by the pandemic will impact the show's timeline.

Updated 9 a.m.: Explained why Cogman left.