Amazon Original’s highly anticipated series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, faced an alarming wave of racist backlash, leading the production to take significant measures to support the cast.
Scheduled to premiere exclusively on Prime Video in September 2022, the series boasts a diverse ensemble cast, which unfortunately sparked immediate racist backlash targeting colored actors. The objection to the presence of people of color within the Middle-earth universe prompted Prime Video to respond firmly, denouncing the threats, harassment, and abuse directed at the cast.
Ismael Cruz Córdova, who portrays the elf Arondir in The Rings of Power, opened up about the severe impact of the backlash in an interview with Variety.
The pointy ear elf revealed that the production went as far as hiring an on-set therapist to provide support for the actors. Córdova expressed his appreciation for the therapist’s presence, even when they didn’t engage in conversations.
“You need support when this happens because the voices are so loud and they’re coming at you from so many places… I loved seeing her there, even if we didn’t speak. I knew there was someone there seeing me completely. It wasn’t just as an actor… It hurt. It had a psychological and mental health impact. That’s something that I’m very, very open about so that people understand that what they do and say online really hurts people, really has an impact on us… My phone got hacked. I had bank account attempts of being hacked. My PayPal got hacked. My friends got messages. I got death threats. I got things mailed to me. People found out my address. It was a lot of that,” he expressed
The intensity of the backlash extended beyond online vitriol, as Córdova shared deeply disturbing incidents, including his phone being hacked, attempts to compromise his bank accounts, and receiving death threats.
The situation escalated to the point where the elf actor’s personal information, including his address, was discovered and exploited.
About the Racist Backlash
The debut of The Rings of Power, Amazon’s highly anticipated series, was met with both overwhelming support and a disheartening wave of racist backlash. Ismael Cruz Córdova, who passionately donned the role as the elf Arondir, braced himself for the hate, recognizing the significance of enhancing visibility and representation.
Despite the intense backlash, numerous influential voices stepped forward to show solidarity with the cast, including Whoopi Goldberg, the Star Wars franchise, and original Lord of the Rings actors Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, and Sean Astin.
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The Rings of Power is not alone in facing a racist hate wave in recent years due to diverse casting choices.
Moses Ingram, The inquisitor Reva in Obi-Wan Kenobi, encountered similar vicious attacks and even received a prior warning from Lucasfilm about potential harassment. Like Prime Video, Lucasfilm offered support to Ingram and denounced the abuse. HBO Max’s House of the Dragon series also faced comparable issues.
While Córdova anticipated some backlash, the overwhelming magnitude of the hate directed at the cast was deeply distressing. Nevertheless, it is encouraging that the studio provided support to the actors and took a public stand against the backlash.