The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power star Robert Aramayo, who plays Elrond, explains how scenes were filmed to make Dwarves look smaller.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power star Robert Aramayo explains how the Dwarf scenes were filmed, utilizing a similar technique to a prior adaptation of the novels. Premiering earlier this month on Prime Video, the show is based on the beloved fantasy novels by author J.R.R. Tolkien and takes places thousands of years before the events of Peter Jackson’s acclaimed The Lord of the Rings trilogy, depicting the rise of dark forces during more prosperous Second Age of Middle-earth. Although featuring an entirely new cast of actors, several familiar characters return, including Elrond (Aramayo) and Galadriel (Morfydd Clark).
In addition to Elves, The Rings of Power features many of the races that fans of The Lord of the Rings will already be familiar with, including Dwarves, Men, and Hobbit ancestors known as Harfoots. In episode 2, Elrond travels to Khazad-dûm to see his old friend, Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), but doesn’t get the warm Dwarf welcome he was expecting. Instead, Durin challenges Elrond to a rock-breaking competition as Dwarves chant and cheer around them. Despite being larger in size, Elrond loses the competition before ultimately mending his friendship with Durin and setting up additional adventures in future episodes of The Rings of Power, and one star is reflecting on how they brought this epic sequence to life.
In a new interview with Vulture, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power star Robert Aramayo explained what it was like to shoot the rock-breaking scene and provided a peak behind the curtain at how he was made to look bigger than the Dwarf characters around him. The actor reveals that much of it came down to the background actors that were used in the scene, with the actors behind him specifically chosen and positioned to make him look bigger, while the actors behind Arthur were used to make Durin look regular Dwarf size. Check out Aramayo’s full comment below:
“Especially in certain sequences! Owain Arthur, who plays Durin, would work with background actors who were around to make him look the same size as the dwarves around him. I would work with background actors who were around to make me look bigger than the dwarves around me. In that rock-breaking sequence, for instance, Owain is an enigmatic and incredible man to be around, so when he’s breaking rocks, everyone was really onboard with him doing it and cheering him on like they were in a beer hall. Then the energy was very different with a whole bunch of new people who came in for my coverage and didn’t like me as much. So sometimes it was really useful for the acting.”
Aramayo’s comment is reminiscent of how Jackson handled different race sizes in The Lord of the Rings movies. Instead of relying heavily on CGI, the director would use scale doubles and different-sized sets to create the perception that certain characters were either big or smaller than who they were sharing the screen with. While Jackson would ultimately opt to use more visual effects during The Hobbit trilogy when it came to the size of Dwarves versus the size of men, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power evidently attempted to use more practical methods to sell the difference in size between Elrond and the Dwarves around him.
With The Hobbit trilogy earning more mixed reviews than The Lord of the Rings due in part to its heavy reliance on CGI, many fans are likely thrilled that The Rings of Power has leaned into in-camera effects and clever perspective tricks to convey different character sizes. According to Aramayo, it also sounds like using real sets and real background actors benefited his performance during the scene. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is obviously heavily reliant on visual effects to create Middle-earth’s massive cities and certain environments, but it’s also interesting to hear about the work that goes into crafting what seems, at least on the surface, to be a relatively straightforward scene of two men breaking rocks.