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So I imagine this is just a ceremonial position?


A series of irreverent tales from my experience as a Tolkien-nerd working as an extra on the first series of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power television show.

A week on from my first costume fitting and I’m back at the studio for a follow up fitting. I get paid for these, but after tax it’s notably less than the money I spend on petrol to get here. And I’m paying off a joining fee from my casting agency too, so I’m not seeing any cash yet. Not that I’m in the slightest bit bothered about the financial aspect – I mean, I do need the extra income (ha!) but I would absolutely be doing this for nothing if they’d asked.

Penny is here again, with an assistant this time. They don’t have the full costume ready yet. What we do have is the same fetching dress/tunic combo from before – not forgetting my leggings/pantaloons (Pantalings? Legaloons? No. I refuse to speculate further on the word legaloons). Once again I’m surprised by how fantastic the dress feels, and how comfortable the heavy suede tunic is. I’ve never had the money to merit buying clothes that are tailored to my personal measurements before, but I’m beginning to understand the benefits. Frankly I would love one of these dresses.

I still have no footwear, but some plain plastic armour parts have arrived. First up are some protective guards, which are tied to my forearms. I want to say gauntlets, but that would seem to imply a glove as well. I’ve just googled this and according to an anatomy-of-armour picture on DeviantArt and another similar picture on Pinterest the word I want is of course vambraces. However it would be remiss of me not to mention that, on the same search, I also found a picture of the armour specifications of a Star Wars Republic Clone Trooper on starwarsrepublicclonetrooper.wikia – and they class them as wrist gauntlets. The troopers also get a crotch plate, but I never do. This is probably a good thing. Although they do get something called a flexible cushion, which sounds nice. Anyway, the vambraces are unpainted plastic and they look shit.

Anatomy of armour diagrams
In time I would look upon the stormtrooper’s ventilation system and flexible cushion with much envy.

I also get a pair of <googles again> greaves! These are a two-part deal – a shin/knee section that is tied on first, and then another section that is buckled on, to protect the calf. They absolutely scream “these will be really uncomfortable to wear all day”. Finally the main item – a shaped breastplate and backplate, buckled to my torso. Standing there in my unpainted plastic armour it all seems mildly ridiculous (apart from the dress, obviously), but Penny assures me it will look amazing when it’s finished, and who am I to doubt her? There is also a helmet to come, but it seems I’m not going to experience the full finished costume until day one on set. Oh well. Another quick photo session follows, and then I’m done.

There are a couple of other blokes here now that are getting the same costume, neither of whom were there at the first fitting. Once again, they fit the city guard mould of seen-better-days-and-could-do-with-a-bit-more-exercise. And, once again, they’re bearded. I’ve seen at least six or seven of us so far, and we all look ostensibly the same.

I’ve got a bit of wait time once I’m back in my normal-but-frankly-a-bit-boring-now clothes, so I take in a bit more of the scenery. On closer inspection there are lots of pictures of historical dress designs stuck to the walls around the costume department. Byzantine, Roman, Greek, Egyptian, all presumably serving as an inspiration for the costumes on the show. And I spot a few pointy-eared folk amongst the illustrations too – my first sighting of the elves! There are a few astonishingly ornate wigs on some polystyrene heads too, one of which has a brilliantly jewelled head-piece that just looks incredible.

These authentic Egyptian costumes were not pinned on the costume department walls for inspiration, for some reason.

I’m called through to make-up again and go through the same information as last time, but with two different ladies. I’m feeling rather nervous given the prospect of having to lose the beard, which is front and centre in my mind from the last visit to make-up. Are they going to shave me now? I decide to confront the issue head-on…

“So, um… do they still want to shave our beards?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Doesn’t say anything about that here. I’d better check though, thanks!”

Doh! I should have kept my big mouth shut. Make-up lady sticks her head out the door and yells, and moments later in walks the fabulous Freddie.

“Johnny says they were going to shave the guards’ beards, but I don’t have anything here on the notes about it?”

“Oh that’s right, they did say that”

Damnit, Freddie remembers. Well, he does now that I’ve reminded him. Oh God, what have I done!

“I dunno though, I think they look great with their beards. I hope they keep them, seems silly not to when they look so good. Let’s leave them as they are for now.”

Oh good man Freddie, good man.

I’ve learned very little about the show on today’s visit, which is a shame. I am of course still entirely in the dark when it comes to the story, and which era of Middle-earth we’re in, and nothing I’ve seen has given me any clues – I guess it will remain that way until I’m actually on set. All that has been officially released by Amazon thus far has been a few maps which seem to perhaps suggest a Second Age tale, including one of Númenor (the island kingdom of Men, home of the ancestors of Aragorn), and a few main actor announcements (but no details of who they are playing). If Númenor is involved then that’s pretty exciting in itself – but we’ve only really narrowed down the potential time period to some undetermined point in an Age that lasted several thousand years.

As it turns out, while I was at this costume fitting Amazon released a photo of a clapperboard from the show – with the name of the show on the clapperboard redacted, leaving just a couple of tantalising glimpses of letters visible. This sends the fan community into an enthusiastic burst of speculation as to what the show could be called, based on how long the redacted words must be. See for yourself…

Amazon clapperboard
The Amazon clapperboard, pictured here chilling out on the beach, that sent the fandom speculation machine into overdrive!

However, on a personal level all the signs are that my costume is shaping up to be pretty epic. And maybe I won’t have to shave after all. So I’m pretty happy with that. Next up will be my first visit to the set, woo-hoo!

2 thoughts on “So I imagine this is just a ceremonial position?”

  1. This is the version of the Silmarilion I’ve been waiting for.

    I’m enjoying this series – it produces a healthy rate of out-loud chuckling…

    “legaloons” 😀

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