Get Your First Look At The Proto Hobbits, The Harfoots, In The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

You can take the Middle-earth out of the hobbits, but you can't take the hobbits out of the Middle-earth, as the old adage goes. Does that sentence make any sense? Not really. Is it a thing I just made up as pretext to talk about Prime Video's series "The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power?" You betcha!

It's been known for a while that "The Rings of Power" wouldn't feature any hobbits proper. The show takes place in the Second Age of Middle-earth, which is thousands of years before a pack of dwarves party-crash Bilbo Baggins' hobbit-hole in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" and the ensuing events of "The Lord of the Rings." That also means it picks up at a point in Middle-earth history when hobbits have yet to do anything of major significance (besides smoking Pipe-weed and chillaxing, which is perfectly significant in my book) and haven't even settled down in the Shire.

In fact, the hobbits in "The Rings of Power" aren't technically hobbits at all but a type of proto-hobbit known as a harfoot. Their ranks include a pair of characters played by Megan Richards ("Wanderlust") and Markella Kavenagh ("My First Summer"), along with a fellow who goes by the very hobbit-y name of Sadoc Burrows (Sir Lenny Henry). It's the latter who is featured front and center in an image shared exclusively by Empire.

Along with the image, Henry provided some insight into what the harfoots are like on "The Rings of Power:"

"We're a nomadic tribe, moving with the weather and the fertility of the crops. We have big caravans on wooden wheels and we're very good at hiding things, because humans are much bigger than us and bring trouble."

'We're the traditional Tolkien little guy'

A notable British actor, comedian, singer, and writer (hence the "Sir"), Lenny Henry is the co-founder of the British charity Comic Relief, and has been acting since the mid-1970s. He recently starred opposite Jodie Whittaker on the "Doctor Who" two-parter "Spyfall" and will co-star in not one, but two fantasy prequel series in 2022 in the forms of "The Witcher: Blood Origin" (where he plays Chief Druid Balor) and "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

Describing Sadoc and his fellow harfoots as "the traditional Tolkien little guy," Henry noted:

"Traditionally, the little people in this world provide comedy but also get to be incredibly brave. You're going to see us run the full gamut of emotions and actions in this adventure."

With their simple, pastoral attire, cloaks, and thick hair, the harfoots share a lot in common with their hobbit descendants, save for the obvious fact that they're not all white like in Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" film trilogies. Middle-earth, in general, will be more inclusive than it has in the past on "The Rings of Power," which has already led to the predictable racist outcry from a vocal segment of the franchise's fanbase.

Far from being concerned with this (as well he shouldn't), Henry is just happy to be part of an ongoing effort to make the fantasy genre more diverse:

"If you can't see it, you can't be it. Finally, in this show, kids are going to see people of color taking up space in the center of a fantasy series. We're very visible in this world and that's very exciting."

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on September 2, 2022.