Owain Arthur On Tolkien Liking Interpretation, His Rings Of Power Dwarf Makeup, And His Robert Aramayo Bromance [Exclusive Interview]

Major spoilers ahead for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power." 

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is a sweeping epic fantasy story set thousands of years before the Peter Jackson film trilogies for "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit." Though we're watching major events that will change an entire world, the heart of the show is its friendships. One of the loveliest belongs to Prince Durin IV of the Dwarves (Owain Arthur) and Elrond of the Elves (Robert Aramayo). These two have been friends for many, many years, but as Elves live far longer than most, Elrond hadn't been back to see Durin for 20 years, something that hurts him deeply. The two make up, though, and with the sharing of the mithril that Durin's wife Disa (Sophia Nomvete) discovered, they change the course of the future. 

Not only is Durin's friendship a delight to watch, but we get something with this Dwarf that we rarely see, particularly in high fantasy; a happy marriage. I recently attended an event in Los Angeles where I got to sit down and chat with Arthur about his role, Durin's bonds, Tolkien actually liking interpretations of his work, and not being able to read his lines correctly without his beard and nose. We also spoke about the bromance between both Durin and Elrond, as well as the real-life friendship between Arthur and Aramayo.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

'[Tolkien] loved that his work could be interpreted in many different ways'

I'm a huge fan of the show [and] a huge fan of Tolkien in general. I'm also a Tolkien fan who likes changes and things ...

Really? Because that's what he wanted. Everything was up for interpretation. And this has come from the Tolkien estates. 

Did they tell you that?


Did you talk to them?

Who was it that talked to them? I can't give you ... One of the cast spoke to Simon [Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien's grandson, a director of Tolkien's estate, and a series consultant], I think.

Oh wow.

And he said, after watching episodes one and two, this is exactly what he would've wanted. Listen, and I want to get it down in print that, that was an official, it was a quote.

I will put that in print. 

Yeah. That he wasn't precious. He loved that his work could be interpreted in many different ways. And, of course, he would. Of course, he would.

I love it, and the fact that they gave you a wife who is amazing. 


It's actually one of the things I wanted to ask you about because you see love stories, and you see just the beginnings of things, but you never really see a marriage that's good, in the middle, and you have kids. What's that been like [to play]?

Yeah, it's absolutely beautiful. Isn't it great? I love that. Usually, when relationships are portrayed on TV or in film, there's a divorce, or there's an affair, or it's the falling in love part. It's never this strong life, day-to-day passion that they have for each other, for their children, for the kingdom, for the mountain. And it really is easy to do that with Sophia [Nomvete] because from the moment we met, we clicked into place in terms of, it was so easy. I think we share the same mischievous sense of humor that we can break into and share together so easily. And I love that we get to show this domestic side of the dwarves. And also just to portray a domestic relationship in a TV show that's working, that's indestructible.

That makes me go "Aww' every time I see it. 

It really is. It really is! And they're so open and passionate with each other, and they clearly fancy the pants off each other.

And they're funny together! 

It's kind of like, "Aww, wouldn't you love to have that person in your life?" 

I think one of the things that I love so much about Durin is that he's funny, and he seems like someone who would play practical jokes, like the tables.

Uh-huh. [laughs]

I'm just curious, are you someone who does that on set? 

[laughs] I feel like you're asking this question and you know what the answer's going to be. 

I might have the answer, yes!

I am, yes. I am mischievous. I was the class clown in school. I love humor, and yes, I do push the boundaries of where that humor can go. So I do shoot myself in the foot now and again, but it's all in the name of comedy.

'We know the line of Durin, and Durin the Deathless, and what it means'

You guys have a crazy set [Khazad-dûm]. How much of that is built, and how much is CG?

I'm looking back at [it]. I'm trying to think back through the entire season now to tell you. So Durin's house is all practical. The tree, the light that comes down on the tree, the water feature, the fire that's behind the table, the fire when Disa was knocking the devil out of a piece of metal — all of that is there. It's practical, all of it. The only bit that — the lift in the second episode, when I escort Elrond out of Khazad-dûm before he persuades me to introduce him to Disa. And so the lift itself is practical. They built that. We were stood on that lift. But obviously, there's a shot that pulls back where the lift goes up a thousand-foot wall. They didn't build a thousand-foot wall. Surprise, surprise ... but maybe for season 2 they will. 

Do you like knowing — do you know where you're going? I mean, because obviously your character, out of the three people here [Markella Kavenagh and Ismael Cruz Córdova also attended], is the only one who we do know something about.

Yeah, not a lot, but we know he exists. And we know the line of Durin, and Durin the Deathless, and what it means. And that he has, there's a status to the name, and a respect to the name. That's, sorry, no status, but there's a respect to the name. Correct.

Do you bug them to give you ideas about where you might be going? 

I try to, but I don't make it life and death. I respect [that] they are writers. They have a process. They will show me their work when they're happy to show me their work. And therefore, I will go, "Cool. This is now what I have to work with." I'll never go, "Well, how do you expect me to play this moment without knowing what's happening in eight hours' time?" I will never put that pressure on the boys. I've done enough TV dramas to kind of understand that you play the cards you're dealt with. 

So, of course, but they have outlined the overall arc of where we're going. That helps. And there will be moments in particular scenes. For instance, there is something that's coming up in season 2 that I wanted — that could have an effect on possibly seasons to come. Just a small moment that kind of goes, "So how would Durin react to this happening in his life? Would he be brave, or would he be scared? And is it a part of his journey to know what's happening to him?"And they said they'd get back to me. So I'm still waiting for the answer to that question. But now and again, there are moments that I will ask for something that could have an effect on a future storyline. It's a collaboration, right?

'Owain and Rob have a bromance as much as Durin and Elrond have a bromance'

Your character is a character that everyone would want to go drinking with.

That's true, yes!

And you've got this great relationship with Elrond. So what did you and Robert do to just get that bond going? Because it's really palpable on screen.

You know what? I can't help but smile when people talk about mine and Elrond ... It's a fine line. I sometimes say mine and Elrond's relationship; sometimes I say mine and Rob's relationship, or Durin and Rob's relationship. It's a muddy line. But it does make me feel warm inside when people have picked up on this so much because that's all we worked on for the entire season. Yes, things happen, things are discussed. My father, the king [Peter Mullan], is part of the equation. But ultimately, our work was based on our friendship, and him being my brother, me being his brother. And it was a bromance, without a doubt. And I'm telling you, Owain and Rob have a bromance as much as Durin and Elrond have a bromance. It's really special. And I've never experienced anything this special with a co-star before. So that's what you're seeing.

Oh, I love that!

Yeah, I miss it.

He's shooting right now, I'm assuming?


I'm hoping we're going to see you guys together again ... I've asked Cynthia [Addai-Robinson] this, and Markella [Kavenagh] — I want to know if anybody went to Hobbiton. Have you guys been to Hobbiton?

I didn't. I didn't go, but Markella did, I think.

She said she almost made it, but she hasn't gone yet.

Oh! I'll tell you why I say that, because ... the first week that we were out there — I'm getting my phone out. [scrolls through his phone] When would that have been? That would have been October ... so we were in Auckland [New Zealand], and this was the 9th of November 2019. [Shows me a picture of Kavenagh hiding under her coat in front of a ferry sign to Hobbiton.] 

That's Markella. We saw the sign for Hobbiton and look at her little smile ... we were at a ferry port in Auckland and kind of going, "Where should we go for lunch?" And then we were like, "Uh, let's go to Hobbiton." And I was like, "Oh my god, Markella, quick! Hide, because you're a Harfoot!"

Oh my god! That's amazing. But the nice thing is, you guys don't really look that much like the characters we see ... so you can probably — maybe for that much longer.

Listen, I could go anywhere and not be noticed. [laughs]

'I can't speak Scottish without a massive beard and a huge nose on me'

[Your makeup] takes three hours, right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah ... two-and-a-half, but three hours but when you add in breakfast breaks, it's three. 

That's a lot. And does it really help the character though, once you're in it, or does it feel like a thing you have to overcome?

So I have been rehearsing recently without the beard and all that stuff just on set, just so that we can work on scale work and all that stuff ... 

I was speaking Durin's lines without the beard, without the nose, and it felt wrong. It just felt wrong. So I mean, Durin doesn't, I can speak like Durin does now, but it would mean nothing to you. It would mean nothing to me. It would feel weird. I can't speak Scottish without a massive beard and a huge nose on me. And a wig on the top of my head.

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