The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power actor Lloyd Owen, who plays Elendil in the upcoming Prime Video series, recently claimed that author J.R.R. Tolkien did not fully flesh out his character and others as much as he did characters in The Lord of the Rings.
Owen spoke with CBC telling the outlet, “The exciting part for me is that there are these signposts on the way that Tolkien has written, but he hasn’t actually fleshed out these characters to the extent that the other characters are in The Lord of the Rings books.”
He continued, “So just being given the opportunity to begin to imagine what he might be like, personify what he might sound like…”
Owen then added, “I’m just very excited where this character goes because he has to get to Middle-earth at some point, perhaps, we think. And forge the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. So that journey arc is an exciting one to go on.”
Owen is either incredibly ignorant about Tolkien’s actual writing or he’s outright lying in order to promote the show. Elendil is incredibly fleshed out as a character and his story is quite detailed by Tolkien in The Silmarillion.
Elendil is first mentioned as the son of Amandil and the father of Isildur and Anárion. Tolkien writes, “Amandil and Elendil were great shipcaptains; and they were of the line of Elros Tar-Minyatur, though not of the ruling house to whom belonged the crown and the throne in the city of Armenelos.”
Amandil was actually an advisor to Ar-Pharazôn, the king of Númenor, before he came under the sway of Sauron and was summarily dismissed. After being dismissed, Amandil and his family would withdraw to the city of Rómenna.
After Ar-Pharazôn’s plans to challenge the Valinor became known to Amandil, he set off with three of his aids in order to seek out Manwë in the hopes he could intervene and save Men from the machinations of Sauron.
However, before he left he told his son to prepare to leave Númenor and to gather the Faithful to depart the kingdom. And Elendil followed his father’s advice as Tolkien wrote, “Elendil did all that his father had bidden, and his ships lay off the east coast of the land; and the Faithful put aboard their wives and their children, and their heirlooms, and great store of goods.”
Elendil and his family would be spared death and destruction from the reshaping of the world when Ar-Pharazôn and his Númenorean fleet were utterly destroyed by Ilúvatar when they landed on the shores of Valinor. Tolkien wrote, “But whether or no it were that Amandil came indeed to Valinor and Manwë hearkened to his prayer, by grace of the Valar Elendil and his sons and their people were spared from the ruin of that day.”
Elendil and his sons would survive the cataclysm aboard nine ships and eventually found four kingdoms in Middle-earth. Tolkien wrote, “Elendil was cast up by the waves in the land of Lindon, and he was befriended by Gil-galad. Thence he passed up the River Lhûn, and beyond Ered Luin he established his realm, and his people dwelt in many places in Eriador about the courses of the Lhûn and the Baranduin; but his chief city was at Annúminas beside the water of Lake Nenuial.”
Among the treasures that Elendil and the surviving Númenoreans brought to Middle-earth were the Seeing Stones or palantíri. There were seven in total and Elendil took three of them. He set them “in towers in Emyn Beraid, and upon Amon Sûl, and in the city of Annúminas.”
In the tower at Emyn Beraid, Elendil “would gaze out over the sundering seas, when the yearning of exile was upon him; and it is believed that thus he would at whiles see far away even the Tower of Avallónë upon Eressëa, where the Masterstone abode, and yet abide.”
As Owen alludes to, Elendil plays a significant role in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. Following many years after their flight from Númenor, Sauron would reveal he had survived the destruction and let his presence be known as he rekindled the forges at Mount Doom and eventually led his forces against Minas Ithil, taking the city, and destroying the White Tree of Isildur.
Elendil would create the Last Alliance with Gil-galad where “they marched east into Middle-earth gathering a great host of Elves and Men.” They would lead their army against Sauron and face him on the Battle Plain that lay before the gate of the Black Land.
The day would be theirs as they drove Sauron and his forces back into Mordor. From there they laid siege to Sauron’s stronghold for seven years with Tolkien writing, “they laid siege to it for seven years, and suffered grievous loss by fire and by the darts and bolts of the Enemy, and Sauron sent many sorties against them.”
Finally, Sauron would wade into the battle and “he wrestled with Gil-galad and Elendil, and they both were slain, and the sword of Elendil broke under him as he fell. But Sauron
also was thrown down, and with the hilt-shard of Narsil Isildur cut the Ruling Ring from the hand of Sauron and took it for his own.”
Tolkien would not only detail the story of Elendil in The Silmarillion, but he would also provide it to Milton Waldman in letter 131 that he wrote to him in 1951.
The Lord of the Rings author wrote, “Elendil, a Noachian figure, who has held off from the rebellion, and kept ships manned and furnished off the east coast of Númenor, flees before the overwhelming storm of the wrath of the West, and is borne high upon the towering waves that bring ruin to the west of the Middle-earth.”
“He and his folk are cast away as exiles upon the shores,” Tolkien continued. “There they establish the Númenórean kingdoms of Arnor in the north close to the realm of Gilgalad, and Gondor about the mouths of Anduin further south.”
In letter 154 to Naomi Mitchison he also detailed, “ysically attainable Earth: the way west was open, but led nowhere but back again-for mortals. Elendil and his sons were the chiefs of the small ‘faithful’ party that took no part in the attempt to seize world-power and immortality by force, and they escaped the drowning of Númenor, and were borne east on a great storm, and cast up on the west-shores of Middle-earth, where they established their realms. But there was no going back for them or any mortal men; hence their nostalgic mood.”
In letter 156 to Father Robert Murray, SJ, Tolkien further detailed, “So ended Númenor-Atlantis and all its glory. But in a kind of Noachian situation the small party of the Faithful in Númenor, who had refused to take pan in the rebellion (though many of them had been sacrificed in the Temple by the Sauronians) escaped in Nine Ships (Vol. I. 379, II. 202) under the leadership of Elendil (=Ælfwine. Elf-friend) and his sons Isildur and Anárion, and established a kind of diminished memory of Númenor in Exile on the coasts of Middle-earth – inheriting the hatred of Sauron, the friendship of the Elves, the knowledge of the True God, and (less happily) the yearning for longevity, and the habit of embalming and the building of splendid tombs – their only ‘hallows’: or almost so.”
Clearly, Elendil’s role is quite fleshed out in Tolkien’s works. He plays key roles in The Downfall of Númenor and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. It’s also abundantly clear how he gets to Middle-earth and what he does upon arriving at Middle-earth.
What do you make of Owen’s comments?