Orcs and VFX are both at the center of the Lord of the Rings films, but they’re going to play an even bigger role in the upcoming Prime Video series Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power–and they’ll be a lot more real, according to a new preview from IGN.
“I love Orcs,” said Jamie Wilson, head of the show’s prosthetics department. “I love creature design, so I’m very happy to talk about this stuff. JD and Patrick, the showrunners, the very first page of their [show] bible was about Orcs. They have a real passion for them, they love practical prosthetics and design, and they felt that they needed exploration given that this is the Second Age and thousands of years before the events of the Third Age [and the existing Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films]. It was really important for them to treat them as their own culture and explore the world on its own two legs in its own right.”
In general, the showrunners are trying to bring the orcs a more three-dimensional life than they were in the films, where they served less as a character and more an overwhelming obstacle for the protagonists.
“We spent a lot of time talking about what it would mean to be an Orc in the Second Age,” said executive producer Lindsey Weber. “It felt appropriate that their look would be different, part of a wilder, more raw Second Age Middle-earth, closer to where the First Age ends. As we meet them, they’re not yet organized into armies, they’re a little more scattered, and they’ve been scavenging. So it’s just a different time in their total story.”
As part of that, they’re looking to broaden the idea of what it means to be an Orc and what Orcs look like.
“There’s some female Orcs that I truly loved,” Weber said. “But there’s one Orc in particular, who’s very, very tall and strong, who has a particularly enjoyable fight with one our Elven characters that I suspect will be, or hope will be a favorite among fans.”
While the Orcs should be identifiable by even casual Lord of the Rings fans, they’ll look a bit different.
“It’s a bit like these are the baby versions,” Wilson explained. “They’re not actually babies, but it’s them coming out from the darkness. So this is early on. If you go to past films about them, you see them and they’re quite battle-damaged… This is kind of before the next range of big battles. They’re not so battle-scarred, but they are dealing with some skin conditions because of their exposure to the sun.”