The latest member of the Amazon exclusive series to offer up such a claim in support of the ongoing narrative that critics have rejected the series due to nothing more than racism, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power star Ismael Cruz Córdova recently claimed that ever since his casting was announced two years ago, he has been the recipient of a non-stop torrent of “pure and vicious hate speech” from dissatisfied fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings.
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Speaking to his role as the “elf of color” ranger Arondir during an interview given to Esquire ahead of the series’ premiere, Córdova told the publication that though his journey to portray the character saw him passed on by Amazon numerous time throughout the audition process, he refused to take their rejection lying down.
To this end, he recalled to Esquire Books and Fiction Editor Adrienne Westenfeld how he responded to his manager informing him of his first rejection by declaring “That’s not the answer I’m looking for. This is my role. It’s what I’m doing.”
He further noted that after learning that the role he was up for was that of an elf, he became “massively emotional”, leading him to “leave all my soul” in his next audition.
“Characters like this, it’s like they find you,” Córdova asserted. “I just always knew that this was mine.”
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The actor also confirmed that he did not approach the series with any intention of adhering to its source material, but rather saw Amazon’s altering of Tolkien’s story as being filled with “immense, endless possibility” for new characters and representation opportunities.
“I knew that I would have the eyes of the world on me,” he explained of his mindset during filming. “I needed to be undeniable, and to be the most Elven elf that I could be. And I needed my soul to shine through, too.”
Interestingly, though Córdova and the series’ production team as a whole have routinely argued that both Tolkien’s works and media as a whole needs more representation in order for ‘diverse’ audiences to identify with any given character or story, the actor told Westenfeld that rather than Arondir’s skin color, he actually more “identified with his groundedness—with what comes when you have to struggle so much.”
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“You become more precise, more economical, more humble,” he added, still making no mention of the Elf’s physical appearance. “You can tell that he’s willing to fight. He will fight and he will win.”
As the interview drew to a close, Córdova broached the topic of the many criticisms leveled against The Rings of Power’s race-swapping, claiming that such individuals had inundated him with “pure and vicious hate speech” ever since he was revealed as a series cast member in January 2020.
“I fought so hard for this role for this very reason,” said the actor. “I felt that I could carry that torch. I made sure that my elf was the most Elven, the most incredible, because I knew this was coming.”
“You can never use it as an excuse: ‘But elves don’t look like that,’” he concluded. “They didn’t, but now they do.”
It should be noted that, like the other claims of fan racism surrounding the series, Córdova provided no examples of or details regarding his alleged harassment.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
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