Watch: Maxim Baldry discusses role as Isildur in The Rings of Power
Maxim Baldry says it was a ‘gift’ to be able to work with the showrunners of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power to create the legendary character of Isildur.
Mentioned briefly in The Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson‘s film trilogy, Isildur was a King of Gondor who cut the One Ring from the hand of Sauron only to later lose it.
The Rings of Power, set thousands of years before the original trilogy during the Second Age of Middle-earth, introduces Isildur as a Númenórean sailor who rises through the ranks.
His character has been described by the showrunners in the past as being akin to Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone in the Godfather trilogy.
“When I found out I was playing him, I was like ‘oh my God, he was in the movies’ and I rewatched that beat. It is a pivotal moment that connects the Second and Third Age together,” Baldry told Yahoo Entertainment UK.
He added: “Tolkien wrote signposts for certain characters, but you didn’t really know much about them as humans.
“We had the gift of creating this character from the ground up and finding out what he was like as a young sailor on the cusp of adulthood.
“That has been lovely to do and find out certain things about him that I didn’t really know and didn’t get from the movies.”
Baldry is aware that playing a character with such an important place in the canon of JRR Tolkien‘s work means fans will have passionate opinions about his performance.
“People have a sense of ownership, I think, over the characters they’ve grown up loving,” said the 26-year-old British star.
He added: “They have an affinity towards them, but I think it’s important for us to do it with the respect that it deserves. I think we did that.”
That affinity now stretches to actor Lloyd Owen, who revealed he has become “obsessed” with Tolkien’s wider material since cracking open The Silmarillion in researching for his role.
Owen plays Isildur’s father Elendil, who will ultimately go on to fight Sauron in hand-to-hand combat, and said The Rings of Power strikes a balance between fan service and letting new viewers into the world.
He said: “We all recently watched the first three episodes and I thought that was a testament to [showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay’s] brilliance that they never patronise the audience.
“There’s plenty for you there if you want to go deeper, but it doesn’t get in the way if you’re brand new. That’s quite a delicate balance to have pulled off, so I was really impressed with that.”
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres on Prime Video all over the world on 2 September, with weekly episodes released thereafter.
Watch: Trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power