How Meerkats Helped Influence The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power [Exclusive]

There are many elements of Middle-earth and the "Lord of the Rings" movies that have become part of popular culture, including the way elves and dwarves look, or the existence of ents. But while people love their elves and ancient human kings, there is no Middle-earth without hobbits. 

Out of all the creatures that inhabit Arda, there is nothing quite like hobbits. As Gandalf once said, hobbits really are amazing creatures. "You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch."

Indeed, where would the Fellowship of the Ring be without the hobbits? Would the ents have attacked Isengard without Meriadoc Brandybuck convincing Treebeard to have an Entmoot to decide whether to get involved in the war? Would the army of Rohan have made it to Minas Tirith without Peregrin Took? Would the ring have been destroyed had it not been for Frodo and Sam?

There is no separating Middle-earth from hobbits. This is why, even when turning back the clock for "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" to thousands of years before the rest of Middle-earth discovered what a halfling was, the show is still introducing a proto race of hobbits, referred to as harfoots. We don't know much about how the harfoots will play into the story, but we do know one curious influence on how harfoots act.

Just be a meerkat

/Film's own Jeremy Mathai talked to the cast of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" about bringing Middle-earth back to our screens, and how harfoots stand apart from the hobbits we know and love. 

For Megan Richards, who plays Poppy Proudfellow, that meant focusing on movement. "We had an incredible movement coach, Lara, and she gave us a couple of references at the very beginning. And one of them that really stuck with me was to walk like a five-year-old child," Richards said. "That was the basis of half of the movement, as well as meerkats. Meerkats were a big one too, and sort of the sharpness and that literal [popping up] movement, too [laughs]."

Of course, a meerkat is not the first thing that pops to mind when you think of the pipe-weed-smoking, beer-drinking hobbits, but there's more to it than just standing upright. 

"That was the basis, and then building up from there and putting in obstacle courses and going, 'Okay, now you are running away' or 'Now you're running to' or 'Now you're hiding,' and all this stuff. And that was also character-building, too, because you're figuring out what Poppy would do in those circumstances. And for me, that was how I was able to really build her from the ground up. So that was sort of how I got into it."

Get ready to fall in love with halflings all over again when "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" premieres September 2, 2022 on Prime Video.