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First Looks: ‘The Rings of Power’ Season 2 Debuts Beloved Tolkien Character Tom Bombadil

In a groundbreaking development for The Lord of the Rings franchise, the beloved but often overlooked character Tom Bombadil is set to make his live-action debut in season 2 of Amazon Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Vanity Fair recently released first-look images of actor Rory Kinnear (Men, Penny Dreadful) embodying this enigmatic character, marking a significant moment for Tolkien enthusiasts.

Tom Bombadil

Tom Bombadil, a mystical figure from J.R.R. Tolkien’s expansive Middle-earth lore, is renowned for his absence from prior adaptations, including Peter Jackson’s acclaimed The Lord of the Rings film series and Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated version. This character, known for his vibrant attire and jovial nature, has remained a favourite among readers for his deep connection to the natural world and his whimsical, song-filled interactions.

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The Rings of Power introduces Bombadil in a context that diverges from his traditional setting in the valley of the Withywindle in the depths of the Old Forest. Instead, images depict him in a cottage at the edge of Rhûn, engaging with the character known as the Stranger, played by Daniel Weyman, who is speculated to be a younger version of Gandalf. This adaptation situates Bombadil in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before the events of the original trilogy, aligning with the show’s timeline which explores this lesser-detailed epoch.

Tom Bombadil

Rory Kinnear, whose casting as Bombadil was initially shrouded in mystery, has now been revealed in full costume, complete with the character’s iconic look. The show’s decision to include Bombadil addresses long-standing debates about his omission from previous adaptations. His role, often considered superfluous to the central narrative due to his neutral stance in Middle-earth’s conflicts, here finds a new purpose.

Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay shared insights with Vanity Fair into Bombadil’s integration into the storyline. They describe a version of Bombadil who actively seeks to understand the devastation of Rhûn, aiming to prevent its spread to his beloved lands.

“He nudges the Stranger along his journey, which he knows will eventually protect the larger natural world that he cares about. So I’d say our Tom Bombadil is slightly more interventionist than you see in the books, but only by 5 or 10 per cent,” Payne explains.

Tom Bombadil
Tom Bombadil in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books

McKay further elaborates on Bombadil’s character, describing him as “whimsical and magical, and almost verging on silly” yet imbued with “the wisdom of the ages and the music of the spheres.” This balance of light-heartedness and depth is intended to contrast with the season’s darker tones, making Bombadil a beacon of light in the narrative and promising fans a fresh interpretation of one of Tolkien’s most intriguing characters.

The Rings of Power season 2 premieres on Prime Video on 29 August.