Star Morpheid Clark Defends Galadriel As Action Hero In “The Rings Of Power”

With a record-breaking budget spent on recreating J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth during the Second Age and a cast of nearly two dozen series regulars and dozens more featured players deployed to enact its sprawling tale of the rise of Sauron, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” is as big a TV show as TV shows have ever been.

However, Galadriel is the show’s central character in every word. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” novels and Peter Jackson’s “Rings” series, in which Cate Blanchett plays Galadriel, have an important character who is so old she was born before the moon and the sun ever blessed Middle-earth.

In “The Rings of Power,” which takes place thousands of years before “The Lord of the Rings,” a youthful Galadriel is not yet the peaceful and wise co-ruler of the Elven kingdom of Lothlórien. Instead, she is obsessed with tracking down Sauron, the evil mastermind who killed Galadriel’s brother but has suddenly disappeared. Galadriel is a tired old lady in “Rings of Power,” having lived for millennia but she is not yet the fearsome old lady she will become in the Third Age.

Morfydd Clark (“Saint Maud”) succeeds in capturing every nuance of the character. “Tasked with making Galadriel equal parts voice of reason and battle hero,” writes Variety writer Caroline Framke, “Clark proves the series’ most steady constant” because of Clark’s “arresting gravitas.”

Tolkien fans her whole life, Clark has always known the value of Galadriel. When asked how her friends would characterize her, she told Variety, “My friends are all great ‘Lord of the Rings fans and I have to tell you, they describe her to me a lot.” She is a living legend. She is a story come to life.

Clark reveals that she didn’t find out she was cast as Galadriel until after she agreed to join “The Rings of Power” and landed in New Zealand in the fall of 2019 to shoot the first season. The showrunners are J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay.

The pandemic extended the journey to nearly two years, during which time the now-33-year-old was challenged far beyond her perceived limits. She spoke with Variety about how she prepared to do all of Galadriel’s stunts, how her Welsh heritage helped her with Tolkien’s Elvish language, what it was like to spend so much unexpected time in New Zealand, and what she would say to Tolkien fans who were shocked to see Galadriel as a badass warrior.

At What Point Did You Realize You Had A Shot At Playing Galadriel During The Audition Process?

When I first arrived in New Zealand, I had no idea I would play Galadriel. At the time, I was aware that my character was an elf of some sort. It was obvious to me that we were in the Age of Two. After reading it all with my sister, I was confident that I was Celebran, her daughter since I couldn’t believe that the author was Galadriel. It seems crazy now that I have traveled to New Zealand without knowing who I would be playing. As a group, the actors all played along. We all sort of dove into this mayhem simultaneously and ran into each other underground. The character I was supposed to portray wasn’t revealed until I got there, so I had to adjust my performance accordingly. I still can’t believe who I’m describing.

The Rings Of Power
The Rings Of Power

Before Playing Galadriel, How Essentially Did You Know About Her History?

I read “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” When reading “The Silmarillion,” I had done very little. I had no clue what she had done. Tolkien writes that Galadriel wears a crown made from plaits as she goes into combat. Wow, I can’t believe how many doors this has opened for me.

Furthermore, Tolkien evolved his views on Galadriel which adds depth to her character. Why did Tolkien require Galadriel to be that? I kept asking myself. There’s some elasticity to her personality because, as he matured, he became more and more in love with her.

Did You Prepare? What Was It?

Every day would begin with three hours of stunt training which included general strength and flexibility, before progressing to the swords. Once upon a time, there would be around twenty of us there and we’d learn a sword battle together, all the same and then execute it like a group of elves which was great fun. Matt, our fantastic personal trainer, was someone I occasionally disliked. Yet, I consider that a necessary trait in a competent fitness instructor.

I got to do a lot of climbing, which I enjoy doing. Having at least one area of study in which you have some preexisting competence is excellent. If not, you may feel some hopelessness. Then we went swimming. I foolishly thought I could swim before taking my first class and realized I belonged nowhere near the ocean. But thanks to Trent Bray, I learned how to swim.

The Rings Of Power

How Did You Feel About Adding Elvish Dialogue To Your Act?

Now, I attended a school where the medium of instruction was Welsh and I can attest to the fact that it is indeed possible to learn everything. Because of its phonetic nature, Welsh is ideally suited for the dyslexic. In the third year of school, I started taking English classes and remember thinking, “What is this?” My mother, a Tolkien fanatic always made sure we knew that the author drew heavily from Welsh culture. Since the Welsh have an unusual fixation on all things Welsh, reading his works has given me a sense of pride. The opportunity to portray a character who could speak two languages was a blast. And I believe it helped me a great deal.