While Gil-galad is a key person in Tolkien’s Second Age, the sparsity of the source material means there isn’t much out there that the author actually wrote to use when building a well-rounded, long-term adaptation of the Elven king. We asked Benjamin Walker how challenging it has been developing a fleshed-out character for a serialized show from the lofty and limited information available, and his response was much bigger than using Tolkien’s writings for research on a single individual. “Any time I feel stumped, I go back to the source material. You go back to the books, even if it’s not specifically about Gil-galad,” he said.
The actor went on to detail what drives his Tolkienian research: “You want to imagine what a war would be like. You want to imagine what immortality really means, which is the ultimate death of everyone you’ve ever known and loved over thousands and thousands of years on repeat. Then you have to ask the question, ‘How do you muster the strength to have hope in spite of that?'”
The Elven actor summarized these thoughts by emphasizing how much information and inspiration can be found in Tolkien’s writings, whether it’s directly or indirectly about his character. “Most people know [Gil-galad] from that song Sam sings, but there’s actually quite a bit that you can glean from the text. Like a religious text, you return to Tolkien and you get something new every time. That’s one of the selfish joys of it for me. But also it’s an infinite font of inspiration. It’s the perfect resource.”
“The Rings of Power” officially launched on Prime Video on September 2. New episodes air weekly throughout the entirety of its eight-episode first season.