Charles Edwards on Filming the Creation of the Rings
Rings of power star English actor Charles Edwards says “True creation requires sacrifice.”
With an extensive career in theatre, TV, and film, most notable for playing Michael Gregson in Downton Abbey, Dr Alexander McDonald in The Terror, Sir Martin Charteris in The Crown, and Lord Celebrimbor in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of PowerThe Rings of Power were twenty magical rings forged in the Second Age, intended by Sauron to seduce the rulers of Middle-earth to evil and the actor reminisces about filming of the hit TV series.
The Rings of Power were Rings created by the Elves of Eregion, nineteen Great Rings (and many other lesser rings) with knowledge obtained from Sauron, and several of them with Sauron aiding the creation. Sauron forged the twentieth Great Ring, called the One Ring or the Ruling Ring, secretly in the fires of Mount Doom
Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for The Rings of Power With The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season finale now streaming on Prime Video, I recently spoke with Charles Edwards (Celebrimbor) about the spoilers of the first season. During the interview, he talked about filming the creation of the rings in the finale, his reaction seeing the Balrog as a viewer, Celebrimbor’s storyline, the fan speculation on who Sauron and The Stranger are, Tolkien’s writings, Season 2, favorite moments from the first season, and why he couldn’t take home any mithril from set.
Check out what Edwards said below.
I want to start with congratulations on the series. I’m blown away every week. I love the show so much.
CHARLES EDWARDS: I’m very happy to hear it. Thank you for saying so.
And I’m very happy we can talk specifics.
EDWARDS: Yeah, me too.
So how early on were you told all the secrets for the show?
EDWARDS: Not early on at all. They managed it very well, actually. They sort of gave out little snippets here and there, but nothing that you could build on or make any assumptions on. I mean, while you’re making it, it’s quite frustrating. But looking back, I’m glad they played it that way because it’s been a huge ride for all of us. Genuinely not knowing what the other people are up to, what our friends and colleagues have been working on really. But also you’re in these different worlds. You just simply don’t see each other, other than socially, and the whole secrecy around the thing kind of builds in a guilt if you say anything about what you’ve been doing that day, kind of just so you just don’t, which is rare in a group of actors. But everyone was very well behaved in terms of sharing so-called classified information.
But for example, episode eight was hugely under wraps right up to the last minute. And scripts were sent out, which had large portions blank. So particularly concerning the ring making. So no one genuinely, for a time knew what we were doing. So it kind of creates a buzz within the company, which is quite fun.
So you’ve actually been watching it as a fan each week as it’s been going, or I’m sure they’ve sent you the episodes.
EDWARDS: No, no. You’ve got to wait and watch them, which has been great actually. You genuinely do not see— I mean they gave a screening for us for the first three episodes way back for San Diego Comic Con. And they did a screening of the first three. Since then, it’s just been each week along with everybody else. Which has been great.
That’s amazing. Were you told when you signed on that your character’s arc was going to be for the five years, for two years? Because the truth is, you don’t know what can happen with your character. I mean from the books there’s a lot that happens, but who knows what’s going to happen in the show.
EDWARDS: Who knows? They’ve left it, they’ve kept it loose. They know what they’re doing. But yes, there is, as far as I’m aware, Celebrimbor— but also I’m loathed to speak too much about it because there are even Tolkien, some Tolkien fans like myself — I’m more than a casual fan now — but I didn’t know who Celebrimbor was but I was obsessed with Lord of the Rings when I was younger. But I don’t really want to preempt what does happen. I mean, it’s there in the books so.
EDWARDS: You can go and find out. But for those who don’t know, I don’t really want to talk too much about it. But you know what happens to him. I do. And as an actor, assuming that they engage that material, it’s very juicy stuff for you.
EDWARDS: Yeah, it is. It is. So I’m very much looking forward to receiving some scripts.
Have you been following along? Because a lot of people have been speculating who is Sauron and who The Stranger is. Have you been reading online and paying attention to what fans are saying?
EDWARDS: I don’t delve particularly online. I skim the sort of latest but I don’t, I’m not active particularly on social media, so I don’t go looking. But there’s a lot of chat on the cast WhatsApp group about the latest theories. And so some of which are… but I do love, if I’m simply an audience member, I really enjoy engaging in that kind of thing. But I’ve been very interested about various people’s theories, but theories that come from well versed people who are really into it. Great. I love that. And people who are really noticing little Easter eggs and points and crumbs that have been left along the way to increase the mystery, then great. But yeah, there have been a few of them.
What was it actually filming the creation of the rings? Because obviously some of it is the director doing closeups of whatever it may be. And then there’s obviously sequences with you actually filming it, which is a big thing for fans.
EDWARDS: It was a huge thing for all of us too because this is the moment and I loved where we were. I loved my workshop. I just thought the whole thing was so cool and so beautifully designed. And it was done very sort of reverently actually, because we knew it had to be done with detail and with care. So everyone, there was this sort of air of hush and everyone was very calm and we were just doing it and it was all very intricate. The moments with the extraordinary where the metal separates and all just very gentle, like an operation, kind of like a hospital in an operating room. It was very exciting and we were just thrilled to have reached that point. And it was the last few days of the shoot too. And it had been a long, long shoot. And to end with that, that was sort of ideal.
I’m assuming that basically no one was allowed on that set except for the key people.
EDWARDS: Yeah, that’s true. It was very, very secretive and a lot of people had gone home by then as well or weren’t called. It was just the core elves really, who were there.
The show takes place in the second age. Once you got cast, how much did you say, I need to really learn as much as I can because I will go to conventions and I want to be able to talk about this? Or do you accept you will never know as much as the hardcore fans?
EDWARDS: I totally accept the latter without a shadow of a doubt. I do love talking about it. I love being corrected. We’ve had many meetings with members of the One Ring for example, that go, “No, no, no, actually it’s blah blah blah.” And I’m totally ready for that because I’m never going to know what they know. And I love to learn from people too, but I know enough and will continue to learn more. But in any role, the first thing I will do is to seek out whatever there is about the role and about the context of the role.
But with this, there was a sort of balance of, okay, well, because we didn’t have any scripts and I knew there were issues with rights and things. So you go, well, but if I read too much, for example, in The Silmarillion, then they’re not allowed to do that, then I’ll be disappointed. But as it’s turned out, all has gone according to plan so far. I’m touching wood as I say that. And the research I’ve done has been thorough and certainly thorough enough to talk about it, but not thorough enough to continue to learn.
I wasn’t sure when they were making the show, if they were just going to be exploring this little part of the Lord of the Rings universe that sort of wasn’t connected. And then when I found out it was going to be about the creation of the rings and everything it’s going to be touching on, I was like, oh, they have the rights to it all.
EDWARDS: Yeah. Well I’m not sure of the specifics, but I know that there are things that they do not have the rights to. So yeah, there are some things, and as we know, Tolkien had two or a couple of versions, for example, Celebrimbor’s story. So before we started, I wondered which, in one version he’s in love with Galadriel. He said, but you were with Celeborn of the Trees, is it called? Celeborn, sort of full name. And he says to Galadriel, “Because I loved you, but you went with Celeborn of the Trees.” So that’s another, that’s a whole other series.
The thing that I find for me, and while I am fan, I’m also accepting this as a TV show and I guess I’m in the minority that I just think that the books are never going to go away. You’ll always have them. This is just one version of the story.
EDWARDS: Totally. Totally. And any tale over time, like Brothers Grimm or fairy tales, as we know, Tolkien was fascinated by, adjusts, morphs slightly depending on the age it arrives in. And as Tolkien said, whatever his quote was about new hands taking on my work. And inevitably it will shift. And according, due to the rights issue, there is stuff, if they had the rights to The Silmarillion, they would make The Silmarillion. But it’s not that. So it’s inevitable and welcome.
What was your reaction when you saw the Balrog in the mines?
EDWARDS: Really, really excited. Really excited. The leaf. Oh I love the leaf. That whole thing with the leaf was brilliant and the mithril next to the leaf and it’s just so exciting that stuff to see it all so beautifully realized, flawlessly. It’s the most extraordinary TV show, I think. Episode six for example, normally there’s something you go, “Oh yeah, that doesn’t look very,” but it was flawless. It was just happening in front of you and really, really amazing to witness it. But that little, the gentle moment of the leaf and then there he was, brilliant.
Yeah, I’ve been trying to tell people that it’s literally an eight-hour movie. This is not a TV show, it is movie level, especially episode six, that just rocked me. I just couldn’t believe the spectacle.
EDWARDS: Yeah, I know. But I think that that was a wonderful thing about the secrecy within the company. We all went, “Oh my, wow.” And then Cynthia [Addai-Robinson] was telling us over the weekend in New York about how it was, and they were literally standing there and action and boom, they just had to shake a little bit. And she said, “Oh God, we felt so silly.” But now you look at what they’ve put behind them, it’s just extraordinary.
I definitely have to ask you, and again, I don’t know, but have you read any Season 2 scripts?
EDWARDS: Not yet.
Are you a part of Season 2?
EDWARDS: I’m assuming so. I’ve kept myself free.
I’ve read that it’s basically started filming or it’s about to start filming.
EDWARDS: Yeah, I think they’re expecting me at some point.
Did you have a favorite of the eight episodes from Season 1?
EDWARDS: I was very, very thrilled to watch Episode 1, simply because I felt the opening of that was absolutely beautiful. That music, the kind of quite haunting choral music that Bear McCreary has made and the kids by the river, and the swan, the paper swan becoming a thing on the stream. I thought that was absolutely beautiful. And I love Morfydd’s voiceover because she’s so brilliant. She just casts a sort of ethereal magic over everything she does, whether it’s voiceover or acting, I think she’s just absolute knockout. So that for me, that was the thrill, Episode 1. However, Episode 8 today has really excited me as well.
Did you happen to steal any mithril from set?
EDWARDS: There was only one nugget of mithril getting around and that was the one that you thought everybody handled and it was kept in a sort of special pouch. And when it was your turn to have it in a scene, it was presented to you in a very kind of religious, almost religious way. And no, that’s probably in a safe somewhere. I don’t know where it is. But I wish I could have done. But there might still be opportunities. You never know.
Yeah, I always go back to the first movie, the extended edition when Gandalf, I believe, says that the mithril armor is worth more than the Shire and how this all connects to the mithril.
EDWARDS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I love that shot of them leaving into the mine the other night when it just goes down and down and down. Really, it’s really astonishing telly. I love it.
With the filming of the first season, which scene or sequence ended up being like a pain in the ass to get right? Whether it be because of camera moves or because everyone was laughing or because of whatever reason?
EDWARDS: I can’t remember any. I mean, I’m sure if you ask people who are involved in endless battles, which Celebrimbor isn’t, I’m sure there’d be different answers. But all my scenes are quite domestic and quiet and conversational, which I like. And so often it, I mean, Rob finds me very funny. So occasionally there’d be issues with giggling and that. But pain in the ass, nothing really, because you’ve got, in my workshop there’s so much space and so you could actually play large chunks of scenes without having to stop and start and change the camera position. And again, the actual forging was all kind of very carefully choreographed. So it’s just a question of listening and getting it right. And so I had no issues with stuff that had to be done and done again. But I’m sure, or the orcs, ask the orcs, I’m sure they’ll tell you a very different story.
A hundred percent. I’m just going to say it’s a pleasure to talk with you. I love the show so much.
EDWARDS: I’m very happy.
I wish you nothing but the best.
EDWARDS: Thank you so much. Pleasure to talk to you too.
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