On the occasion of The Rings of Power season finale, I spoke with Benjamin Walker, who portrays Gil-Galad, High King of the Noldor in the Prime Video hit show, who is also one of Middle-earth’s most beloved and powerful hero.
Benjamin Walker On Gil-galad In The Rings of Power
Diving into the character of Gil-galad from The Rings of Power, I asked Benjamin Walker if there was a specific moment in the life of the last High King of the Noldor that he really wants to bring on screen in the future seasons of The Rings of Power.
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“Oh, you are slowly nudging me into real dangerous waters here,” he said, laughing. “Well, I’ll say this: If you know Gil-galad, you know he has Aeglos, the mythical orc-killing spear, basically a nuclear weapon of this time, and he just kinda keeps it under his bed. So it’s one of the things that it’d be a real shame to waste. Did I stay vague enough but also answered your question?” he asked laughing, potentially teasing the much-anticipated sequence of The Battle of the Last Alliance (I might be reading into it, but it would a real gift for Tolkien’s fans and scholars.)
For the record, Aeglos is Gil-galad’s powerful weapon, greatly feared by the enemy. During The Battle of the Last Alliance, Gil-galad uses it to defeat Sauron alongside Elendil. By taking down their enemy, both Kings die. But even if this battle appears in The Rings of Power series just as it appears in Tolkien’s writings, it’s very unlikely that it will happen any time soon in the next seasons of The Rings of Power.
“I’m glad that people like Gil-galad; I feel honored to wear his crown.”
Benjamin Walker also mentioned how he handles the pressure of being part of such a beloved and complex story:
“Pressure is how you make a diamond; I don’t mind the pressure. No one puts as much pressure on me as I put on myself in terms of how much respect and dedication you have to pay to Tolkien’s vision. That’s the job. I also really love these characters; they are part of my psychic because I grew up with these books. It was my gateway to fantasy. My brother (…) gave me my first big boy book, which was The Hobbit. I like living in that imagined world. It’s quintessentially about light and dark and good vs. evil, finding your place in a chaotic world. I’m glad that people like Gil-galad; I feel honored to wear his crown.”
“He understands that though things may be dark now, to give up on the potential of hope is the death of dreams.”
“Even darkness must pass,” the powerful speech given by Samwise Gamgee to Frodo, really inspired Benjamin Walker in how he portrayed Gil-galad. He explained:
“What I love about Gil-galad is that he’s always playing the long game of hope. You kind of never see him panic; he’s constantly anticipating the inevitable resurrection of the evil. He understands that though things may be dark now, to give up on the potential of hope is the death of dreams. And that’s the kind of leader I wish we had more in our days, someone who is invested in the future. (…) When we come together, we can overcome the worst aspects of life. “
For the actor, being part of Middle- earth has to come with a great amount of respect for the original material. He declared that J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay absolutely demand dedication and knowledge of the source material in order to create a series that will satisfy all types of audiences.
“I was nervous when I got offered the job, and J.D. called me to talk about the character and their vision of the show,” said Walker. “I couldn’t hear him over the phone; there was a lot of noise in the background; I said, ‘J.D. I’m struggling to hear you. Where are you, man? ‘ He said: ‘ I’m in the hospital. I said: ‘Oh my god, are you okay?’ And he said: ‘Yeah, my wife just had a baby. But the thing about Tolkien is…’ And I thought: ‘Well, he’s definitely devoted.’”
Answering if he knew who Sauron was in The Rings of Power while so many fan theories circulated online, Walker declared:
“Well, I do know, but like a good Whisky, it’s worth the wait!”
He added: “The fact that people are excited is a testament to Tolkien and a testament to the show. The more we can preserve [the secrets], the better. But if anything, that’s the greatest compliment that we can have, that people care enough to speculate. (…) It’s worth the wait, I promise.”
“All the things you love about the books are going to be in it. And then a little bit more…”
Speaking about the future of Gil-galad in The Rings of Power and his relationship with Elrond and Elendil in the next seasons of The Rings of Power, Benjamin Walker said:
“What’s great is that they have the right to the appendices. This beautiful blueprint of what Tolkien intended. For example, Celebrimbor, in the appendices, is just a sketch. Charles Edward gets to fill in with his understanding of the lore and his creative spirit. So all the things you love about the books are going to be in it. And then a little bit more…”
Benjamin Walker On His DIAGEO Partnership
Walker also talked about his new partnership with DIAGEO for the Special Releases collection of 2022 Single Malt Scotch Whisky. These “Elusive Expressions” are inspired by the mysticism surrounding these legendary distilleries. Artists Ken Taylor and Kevin Tong designed the gorgeous labels celebrating the fantasy world.
Opening one of these bottles for the final episode of season 1 is the best way to celebrate, for whisky/ fantasy lover Benjamin Walker, who said he would “100%” enjoy it when episode 8 is released.
“It’s an interesting partnership because what I do, is story. And a good whisky is an illustration of time and craftsmanship over time. And that’s how our best stories and fantasies and myths have developed. (…) We come together, we tell stories, and we drink something really nice.”
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For Benjamin Walker, there is an interesting parallel between the DIAGEO Special Releases and The Rings of Power, particularly in episode 8. I told the actor that fans were going to read between the lines.
“I know, exactly!” he said, laughing.
“A bottle of Talisker will go great with episode 8; that’s all I’m saying,” he added later.
“The ocean plays such a huge part in our show, particularly with Númenor and where Halbrand and Galadriel meet. With Talisker, you can literally taste the ocean, and where the scotch was made, it has so many different layers. It does feel a little bit like the show: As soon as you think you understand what’s happening, something else happens! I am going back over my words. I think I’m okay,” ended Walker for fear of spoiling the final episode.
The Rings of Power season 2 is already in production, and Benjamin Walker was already back in Middle-earth just a few hours before our interview with him. While showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay stated last week that we would probably have to wait two years before we can finally watch season 2, you can now enjoy the epic finale of The Rings of Power (with a glass of Talisker by order Gil-galad, High King of the Noldor himself).
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