‘The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim’ Unveils Its Heroine & Villain – First Looks

The cinematic world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is expanding once again with The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim. This new venture marks a return to animation for the famed series, embracing the style and storytelling dynamics of anime under the direction of Kenji Kamiyama, known for his work on Blade Runner: Black Lotus.

The War of the Rohirrim

The War of the Rohirrim explores the epic backstory of Helm Hammerhand, the legendary king of Rohan, whose name graces the fortress of Helm’s Deep. Producer Philippa Boyens, a pivotal figure in scripting Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, recognised the unique suitability of anime for this tale. “When they suggested anime, that’s when my brain really started whirring,” Boyens shared with Entertainment Weekly. She was captivated by the storytelling potential in anime to delve deeply into the rich, character-driven narratives that Tolkien’s world offers.

The narrative, derived from Tolkien’s appendices, delves into the lore of Helm Hammerhand, voiced by Succession‘s Brian Cox. Director Kamiyama is particularly fascinated by the story’s exploration of power and legacy. “This is the story of the most powerful king in Rohan’s history, someone who defeated his enemies with his bare fists,” he explains, “Why did his lineage have to end with him? I think there is a lesson in hubris there and also for a need for responsibility and awareness in their power. We live in an age where, all over the world, we face the reality of war again. What, then, is power? What is the responsibility of those who possess it? It is something they need to think about by thinking together with those who don’t.” 

The War of the Rohirrim

The anime will expand on lesser-known aspects of the lore, notably focusing on Helm’s daughter, Hèra, a character brought to life with a new depth and agency, voiced by Gaia Wise (A Walk in the Woods). Boyens and screenwriter Phoebe Gittins were drawn to the character’s unnamed significance in the original texts. “We know Helm has a daughter, and we know that she was central to the conflict that happened,” Boyens noted, underscoring their intent to explore her pivotal role in Rohan’s history. “We could feel the weight of being that unnamed daughter, which immediately piqued our interest: Who was she? How did she live?”

Another key character is Wulf, voiced by Luke Pasqualino, who challenges Helm’s reign, leading the armies of Dunlendings against Rohan. Unlike the dark lords and evil wizards of previous Lord of the Rings tales, Wulf’s humanity and realistic motivations present a different kind of antagonism, adding a contemporary relevance to the story.

The War of the Rohirrim

The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim is not just a nostalgic trip back into Middle-earth but a venture that promises to blend traditional lore with fresh narrative perspectives, enriched by the distinctive aesthetics of anime. This film is a testament to the enduring allure of Tolkien’s world, proving that even well-trodden paths like those of Middle-earth have new tales to tell.

Adding to the excitement, The Hunt for Gollum, a film directed by Andy Serkis focusing on Sméagol’s backstory, is slated for release in 2026.

The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim will open in cinemas on 13 December.