London, New York, Tokyo: there isn’t a great city in the world that hasn’t been in recent weeks invaded from an army of ads power rings, Prime Video’s new series is on 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 blond hair and steely gaze immediately became familiar. “I still can’t believe I was going to be so famous,” she says. Morfid Clarke, the new Galadriel reclining on a chair in a London hotel. “I can’t think too much about it because I have no vision. It’s very strange”.
The Welsh actresswho has previously acted in famous films like St. Maude Y The Personal Story of David Copperfield (plus supporting roles in Dracula for BBC and series His dark materials), went from relative anonymity to total omnipresence in the blink of an eye. In recent weeks, he has greeted hundreds of fans of J. RR Tolkien at San Diego Comic-Con and appeared on several late-night talk shows on American television.
And yet it shines fresh. “I feel like we’re all kind of constantly on drugs,” he explains. “There will be a period of reflection where we will say “What happened in the last three years?” Ready or not, the journey she embarks on is about to turn her into trademark. That’s no small thing, given that his name demands that every interviewer go looking for it doubtful pronunciations on YouTube, where robotic voices attempt to articulate their automated languages with the double ‘dd’ of the Welsh alphabet.
“I feel weird talking about it,” she says when asked if her native language is an endangered species. disappearance. “When I was a teenager, I was more like “Welsh is a rotten language, Welsh is a dead language. Why are you even bothering to talk about this?'” Clarke grew up in Penarth, one of the southernmost towns in Wales, close to the cosmopolitan center of Cardiff. “People are much more excited now. There is still a long way to go because what we see as the Welsh experience is very white, whereas Cardiff is a very diverse city. This is a good time for all small groups.’
Describe Clark as “elven” it would be unacceptable laziness, given that her role in the series is precisely the queen of the elves, the so-called “lady of the forest” of Lothlórien. But just like Martin Freeman spent much of his career waiting for the call to play a The Hobbit (there’s something about his face that makes you imagine him barefoot, smoking a pipe and wandering the fields), Clark has angular beauty, at times both innocent and stern, as if shouting “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 bit of a nervous face. I can come off as quite extreme and a bit evil. Which, I suppose, is a bit elven!’
In his youth, he went to see the films of Lord of the Rings with his family. “My parents love books,” i remember “My father read me The Hobbit… I watched the movies willingly be in Middle-earth.” “Community,” she says, resonated strongly with her as a group of fictional characters rather than as a potential career.” he says. But only when he reached the 30 yearsin 2019, who starred in her own Tolkien adventure.
Before that, he attended the now-closed London Drama Centre, whose alumni list includes Michael Fassbender, Colin Firth and Anne-Marie Duff. “The tomato school is very specific,” he says. “Very, very strange.” Gaining a place at a prestigious educational institution, as all aspiring actors know, not a guarantee of success. “I think you realize how much luck you have to do when you go to acting school because you’re among an incredibly talented group of people and the prognosis is that It’s not going to happen for everyone.”
What was your happy moment? “Firstly, I’m Welsh and I’ve just come out Gavin and Stacey (a popular BBC series about two families, one English and one Welsh), so that was lucky. The other part is that I had a family that was really supportive and could do it emotionally and financially if I needed it. And one more thing, I’m white and conventionally beautiful.”
None of this seems particularly lucky; perhaps the best luck came in starring in the critically acclaimed psychological horror film St. Maude (by Rose Glass) and in Armando Iannucci’s charming revisit David Copperfield, released in 2019 when the fantasy leviathan of Amazon Prime Video.
The shooting schedule The Rings of Power requires him to relocate to New Zealand, the cinematic home of Middle-earth, between October 2019 and August 2020. During that time, some world events threw production into chaos. “We had to shut everything down like everyone else,” he says. “New Zealand, in a very fortunate or very strategic way, responded in a very particular way. there was no covidso we kept working but no one could go out.” His friends and family in the UK were not so lucky. “I was doing Zoom parties with all my friends at 6am NZ time and they solved the drinking problems.”
This bubble in the antipodesSeparated from the world far more than Clark could have hoped when she signed her contract, she changed the nature of the process. “You don’t often meet people who are in a movie or a series with you,” he says. “And this it felt much more like a piece of theater. We were all in Auckland crossing all the different storylines.”
And the series has many threads, from Galadriel’s monomaniacal pursuit of the dark wizard sauron (known to viewers as the big flaming eye from the original trilogy) to the new character of Eleanor Brandyfoot -who cares for a strange, celestial creature-, going through the work of Elrond building a suspicious giant forge. If the creators of game of Thrones they are tired of their show being defined as “Lord of the Rings for bigger people,” it seems fair to balance the scale and say that’s what it feels like “Game of Thrones for the whole family”.
the rings of power it is the most expensive television series in historythe first to cross the billion dollar mark. Amazon spent 250 million just to acquire the rights, an agreement that allowed him to produce 50 hours of content taken from the apps 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 immediately fell in love.” This enthusiasm gave the creators a blank check to develop a an amazing new vision for Middle Earth.
But outside the luxury apartment where the interview takes place, the streets are full of newspapers with headlines about energy pricesthe increase of inflationand even from Amazon workers are protesting for a pay rise. How does Clark deal with the cognitive dissonance of being involved in such a lavish production at a time like this? Is it a form of what might be called Tolkien appropriation, a cynical usage of these beloved books to reshape the narrative around the world’s second largest company?
“I think I should listen to the workers, and that people are very brave right now,” he offers diplomatically as a PR rep spins. “You have to constantly reevaluate and think about what you’re doing and the effects it has. And I think, especially as actors, it’s important to remember that we’re part of bigger things in this crazy world.” The antidote? “I listen to a lot of Phoebe Bridgers, Punisher. Is for have a nice 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 work,” he continues. “I think art and movies are becoming things that people can spend a trillion dollars on, which is difficult to understand. And then sometimes I prefer to go to my little elf world.”
* On The Independent From Great Britain. Particularly for Page 12.