Showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay say they had some invaluable assistance in creating Prime Video's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power from Simon Tolkien, the grandson of The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien. Simon Tolkien is a novelist himself, known for his Inspector Trave novels and No Man's Land, and is the eldest child of Christopher Tolkien, who became the custodian of J.R.R. Tolkien's work after the author's death. With The Rings of Power, the showrunners say Simon brought the unique perspective of someone who grew up surrounded by his grandfather's works to the production.
"The first time we met Simon Tolkien, we had to pinch ourselves — here we were, sitting across the table from the grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien himself," McKay tells Entertainment Weekly. "And that was only the beginning of what has proven to be an extremely enriching and rewarding dialogue. His insights, attention to detail and passion for both the characters and the overall architecture of The Rings of Power are woven throughout the pages of our story. Working with Simon has been the experience of a lifetime."
In a statement, Tolkien added, "I have enjoyed assisting Amazon Studios in connection with the series, and in particular providing input to JD Payne and Patrick McKay on matters including my grandfather's original writing."
Tolkien has had a complex relationship with his grandfather's work. His father famously advised all members of the Tolkien estate "to avoid any specific association with the films" (he was not a fan of Peter Jackson's vision of Middle-earth). Simon broke ranks with his father's edict, offering to assist in the production, though he later discussed how the blockbuster success of those films took a toll on his mental health. He and his father's relationship also became strained, though he has stated previously that this was not a direct result of his willingness to be involved with the films, and the two reconciled before Christopher's death in 2020.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set thousands of years before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, during Middle-earth's Second Age. It begins during a time of relative peace following the defeat of Morgoth, Sauron's master. The series chronicles the lives and adventures of its ensemble cast and promises to visit the Misty Mountains, the forest elf-capital of Lindon, and the shores of the island kingdom of Númenor.
Prime Video already renewed The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power for a second season. The series premieres on Prime Video on September 2nd.