Patrick McKay, one of the showrunners of Prime Video’s forthcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, halted a panel at the Television Critic’s Association in Los Angeles on Friday to make a key correction, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
A reporter referred to the series, which debuts on September 2, as only “vaguely connected” to the work of author J.R.R. Tolkien, unlike Peter Jackson’s celebrated film trilogy which was, as the trade outlet puts it, “based on actual printed materials.”
McKay was quick to make an interjection. “We don’t feel that way. We feel like deep roots of this show are in the books and in Tolkien,” he said.
“If we didn’t feel that way, we’d all be terrified to sit up here,” he continued. “We feel that this story isn’t ours. It’s a story we’re stewarding that was here before us and was waiting in those books to be on Earth. We don’t feel ‘vaguely connected.’ We feel deeply, deeply connected to those folks and work every day to even be closer connected.”
The Rings of Power is not an adaptation of any specific Tolkien work, but drawn from elements in the Unfinished Tales volumes published by Christopher Tolkien after his father’s death. The new series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years prior to the adventures from the more familiar films. (This does not mean there are not some shared characters, however!)
In addition to defending the new show’s “connected” bonafides, McKay also commented on the fact that HBO is launching another big budget high fantasy prequel series, House of the Dragon, part of the Game of Thrones continuity, just two weeks prior.
“It comes up and and we totally understand where where the question [of a perceived rivalry] comes from,” he said. “We don’t think of the show in terms of what genre or other shows that might be out there. We think about [Tolkien], his life’s work was creating this world. This is Tolkien’s Middle Earth and regions beyond Middle Earth and we just wanted to be true to that,” he added.