The Rings Of Power's Markella Kavenagh On Harfoot Feet, Tom Bombadil, And Visiting Númenor [Exclusive Interview]

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" has completed its first season, and production on season 2 is currently underway. In the Prime Video series, we meet the Harfoots, the precursors to the Hobbits from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Harfoots are the heart and soul of the show and of Middle-earth. Unlike the Hobbits we meet thousands of years later in the Third Age, the Harfoots are travelers who are constantly on the move. Despite this, they still stick with their small communities. 

One Harfoot, however — Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh) — has an adventurous spirit, much like her future counterpart Frodo Baggins. In season 1, she and her friend Poppy (Megan Richards) come upon a mysterious Stranger (Daniel Weyman) who has shot to the earth in what appears to be a comet. Nori strikes up a relationship with the Stranger, and by the end of the season, the two have more of an understanding of each other and — without getting into spoilers yet — clearly have more adventures ahead of them. 

I recently spoke to Kavenagh at an event in Los Angeles, where she talked about playing a character who is new to the franchise, whether or not the Stranger could have ended up bad if Nori wasn't there, what it's like to wear those feet, and who she'd like to see join the cast in the future of the series.

This interview contains major spoilers for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" and was lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

'It's her wanting to help the Harfoot community and wanting to help them find a home'

How has it been playing a role that's not in the books?

It's been incredible because it's a great balance between having a lot of creative freedom and then also respecting the lore and having that context as well. It was a great kind of middle ground and a great balance to have. I was just really grateful to be a part of it.

The finale made me sob like a baby. But now that Nori's gone off — well not by herself, but without her family, without her support system — how do you feel? I mean, I know you can't spoil things, but how is that going to change things for her?

Well, I think she's, in a way, been preparing for it the whole time. She just needed that final bit of support from her family. I think she might have done it anyway, but to have that kind of little final shove was what she needed to have confirmation she was doing the right thing.

It's incredible because I really do think for her, it's not just her doing it out of a selfish interest in the unknown — it's her wanting to help the Harfoot community and wanting to help them find a home.

It's funny, I was talking to [season 1 finale writer] Gennifer Hutchison, and I asked her about whether or not the Stranger could have gone bad without Nori. And she said it's certainly something to speculate on. So I'm curious — do you think he would have gone a different way?

It's so difficult to say, but I do love that question. I think that it just might have taken him longer to get there. But I do think that he, at this point at least, has good intentions and a good heart. I trust that.

Everything is shaken up going into the new season, in terms of who's going off with whom. How is that going to affect you all as actors? Who is somebody that you would want to work with that you haven't?

We were all in New Zealand together, and also we couldn't go home [because of the pandemic lockdown], and so we all got to know each other so well. I was saying earlier that Rob Aramayo and I never interact in the season, but we're really good friends because we got to know each other.

And same with Morfydd [Clark] and Charlie Vickers, and everyone in the cast. I would just love — I remember one day on set, I was filming in the same studio as Númenor. The actors were so lovely, and the showrunners let me go onto the set as a Harfoot. And I was like, I would love to be a Harfoot in Númenor. Put me in Númenor. 

I'd watch that show.

Yeah. I would love to meet them. I would love to interact with Ismael [Cruz Códova]. I would love to be with all of them.

'I think they are on a journey to find their own home'

It's always interesting to me to see what people think about other sets. Because the Harfoots have wagons and snails?

We do, we do.

And trees.

We do.

But Númenor, what was it like walking on that set?

The work of the crew just completely blew me away. They were so detailed, and everything was so intricate, and the imagery was so alive. It really took a village of amazing, passionate, dedicated creatives — to witness that in real life was beyond.

I talked to Cynthia [Addai-Robinson] and she was saying there was a bird poop wrangler on the set. 

There literally was? Wait, I didn't know that! Wow. Cynthia!

I also am curious  — the Harfoots are travelers, but when they become Hobbits, they have Hobbiton. And people are speculating if that's a thing that we'll see in this series. Is that something you'd want to see? That transformation into a settled people?

Yeah, because obviously the Harfoots do become Hobbits and have the Shire and have that home. I would love to see that happen. I think they are on a journey to find their own home. We'll see where that takes us.

I read that you said Tom Bombadil is your favorite character.


Now, I also love Tom Bombadil. People are obsessed with Tom Bombadil, and obviously, he was not in the films. Is that a character you would like to see show up?

I would love to see Tom Bombadil realized on screen. He genuinely — that would make me so happy. I would love that.

Who would you want to see cast?

Oh my goodness, what a question ... gosh, it could be so many. I actually can't even think of someone right now. I do know that I want Charlotte Rampling in the show. I really, really want her to be in the show.

Who would you want her to play?

I feel like she would be amazing in Númenor. Or one of the Elves? Or maybe someone evil? I don't know. She would just be brilliant, I think. And I just love her work so much.

'We had slippers to help get into character'

I am curious about wearing the feet and what it's like — how long does it take, how do you deal with the whole thing?

It's like a big flipper that comes up to just above your knee.

Really, that high?

Yeah. The prosthetics team was amazing — at the end of the day, you'd have 300 sets, pairs of feet just hanging in the prosthetic tent, just dangling at the end of the day. I felt so bad for the prosthetic team as well because you'd sweat in them, and then they'd have to clean them. But they took maybe 20 minutes to get on, and they were fun. They are such an important part of the character, so I couldn't imagine doing it without them.

They definitely affect the walk. Just the moment in the trailer when we could see all of you walking, you could really see the difference. Does that bring you into the character? 

Yeah, absolutely. Earlier on, before we had them, we had slippers to help get into character, these big long slippers. It was so helpful.

The first season of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is currently streaming on Prime Video.