Owain Arthur interview: ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’
“There’s a joy I think, to the dwarves, that I get from the source material,” explains Owain Arthur. The actor played the dwarven Prince Durin IV on Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” He dug through the many texts from J.R.R. Tolkien in order to discover as much as he could about the race of stout mine-dwellers, and felt determined to find where the joy existed in Durin. When Arthur arrived on set in New Zealand, he soon unearthed that joy not just in his own character study, but in the chemistry with his costars. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
As luck would have it, the dwarf kingdom of Moria, located deep within the Misty Mountains, provided a perfect way for the actor to relate to dwarf culture. “There’s a working class element to them that I can connect to,” reveals Arthur. He grew up on the side of a mountain, within a working class community in Wales. He immediately recognized the tough, often toxic, exterior of these laboring men and brought that knowledge to Durin’s perspective. Arthur explains that Durin is an exception to the rule when it comes to dwarfs. “He’s in that world, but he’s wise to it,” notes Arthur, “He can look outwards as opposed to blocking the outside.”
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The most obvious example of Durin’s willingness to look beyond the confines of his own community is in his friendship with the elf Elrond. It’s an enduring bond, and one that Arthur mimicked in real life with Elrond actor Robert Aramayo. “He’s a thinker, like I am,” describes Arthur, noting that he and Aramayo had similar approaches in the way they analyzed character motivations. “We just got excited about each other’s characters and the friendship that we were forming. For both Owain and Robert, and Durin and Elrond.”
This friendship between dwarf and elf leads to one of the greatest sources of tension in the series. Durin chooses to defy his father King Durin III (Peter Mullan) by handing over a precious ore from their mountain which has the power to save the entire elven species from extinction. “It’s a real push and pull between the right and wrong thing to do,” explains Arthur of Prince Durin’s conundrum. “Do you follow tradition or the future?” Ultimately, Durin makes the choice with his heart, and it’s a moment that leaps off the screen thanks to the chemistry built between Arthur and Aramayo. “It’s just that pure love and enjoyment of being with a friend that you can say anything to,” says the actor of the friendship.
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Arthur confirms that he also “clicked instantly” with Sophia Nomvete, who portrays his wife Dissa. “We were comfortable enough in each other’s company that we were able to push boundaries,” he notes, claiming that the couple is “collectively a force of nature” because of how fully they support one another. “I think it’s just lovely to play opposite a lover or a wife, in a marriage that’s working. I don’t think you see that often,” he says of their drama-free relationship.” Their connection, their love for each other, is unbreakable.”
Arthur admits that his only obstacle in connecting with these scene partners was the massive amounts of prosthetics, and the giant beard, which were required to transform into Durin. “It exhausts you,” he admits, “At the end of every day I feel like I’ve completed a marathon.” Not only did he arrive on set at 4 o’clock in the morning for a three hour session in the makeup chair, but the extensive hair and makeup changed how he moved. Simple actions, such as eating or raising an eyebrow, required rehearsing. Though it required extra effort to discover how to break through the makeup with the character, Arthur still describes the process as a secret blessing. “It’s another discipline that I’ve had to master,” describes the actor, “It’s a long day, but a very rewarding one.”