Transforming into a Middle Earth dwarf requires the weight of a newborn baby. And no, these are not ingredients for a “Lord of the Rings” spell.
Prime Video series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” uses awe-inspiring CGI and practical effects, including prosthetics, to properly capture the fantastical world of J.R.R. Tolkien. Executive producer Lindsay Weber revealed that the entire cast was tasked with completing a multi-hour course on tricks to make the dwarves and harfoots look smaller than elves. Production employed “scale ambassadors” to make sure everyhing was proportioned correctly, from costumes to props. “If a button on a jacket is the wrong size, it’s over,” Weber told Time.
Production tricks included oversized props, big hair and beards, and people wearing cardboard faces on top of their heads so their scene partners know where to look when delivering their lines.
Now, actor Owain Arthur admitted to wearing a “newborn baby”-sized beard on set. Arthur portrays Prince Durin IV in the series, streaming September 2. The Welsh actor revealed the beard came in 16 separate pieces, including neck-hair, an under beard, sideburns, split chin parts, a mustache, and nostril strands. The handmade beard wig was crafted from real human hair, angora goat, horse, and yak hair, strewn with copper threads to reflect light and give it texture.
“[It was] attached to my face so it would move but not pull,” Arthur told Variety, citing that it “weighs as much as a newborn baby.”
“[The] hook takes a lot of the weight. It’s also attached to the wig at the back,” Arthur added.
The makeup and hair team, led by Jane O’Kane, opted for Arthur to wear the beard lower on his face so he could “express” emotions and “not have the makeup be a hindrance” to his acting ability. Arthur worked with two artists for over two and a half hours each day to transform into the role.
Arthur’s character had to be “larger than life and to have a big presence in a room amongst the heightened elves,” as O’Kane noted. “It was an extensive jigsaw puzzle of facial hair,” she said of the massive beard.
And Arthur better get used to wearing that wig: Prime Video has already made a five-season commitment to “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” series, making for a “50-hour show” according to co-showrunner J.D. Payne.
“They knew from the beginning that was the size of the canvas…this was a big story with a clear beginning, middle and end,” Payne previously told Empire magazine. “There are things in the first season that don’t pay off until Season 5. We even know what our final shot of the last episode is going to be.”
For all the details on “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” click here.
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