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Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power star Sophia Nomvete: ‘Everyone could benefit from thinking like a dwarf’

In challenging times, Sophia Nomvete believes we all need the strength, hope and loyalty of a Princess Disa – and she also explains why dwarves have Scottish accents

Sophia Nomvete plays Princess Disa in Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Photo: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

Sophia Nomvete plays Princess Disa in Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Photo: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

Tolkien’s tales were always about much more than precious jewellery or hordes of gold. His Lord of the Rings stories set in Middle-earth explored good and evil, friendship, fear, loyalty, courage and community.

In the overwhelmingly beautiful and ambitious new adaptation, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, the story goes much deeper than it seems on the surface.

Sophia Nomvete plays Princess Disa, the first female, and first black dwarf seen in the Lord of the Rings world.

“What’s so great about the show is that every single audience member, no matter their background, or knowledge of Tolkien, or the movies, will be able to take something from this,” she tells The Big Issue.

“The overarching story is about the sleeping and waiting of an everlasting evil, that I think follows around the world always. And what it looks like when different races and cultures around the world experience an evil and how we handle that and deal with that.

“And, of course, looking to friendships and love and greed and power – just navigating a world through the lens of Tolkien’s endless fantasy.”

The episodes trace a new but familiar threat creeping over Middle-earth. While we live in a very muddled earth of our own, with increasing threats to our own lives – from pandemic to the cost-of-living crisis – Nomvete thinks we could benefit from being more like a dwarf to overcome the big issues we’re facing.

“Everyone could benefit from thinking like a dwarf,” she says. “They are quite a working-class culture. They are loyal and gregarious and formidable and strong. And they have a lot of hope and loyalty.

“We see within this season looking outside of the community in order to gain strength and solidarity at a time that that feels like it could get a bit shaky.

“For my character, Princess Disa, she is all about her voice and her empowerment which lives within her. A lesson I take from her, that I hope ripples out for audience members, is that ultimately that that razor sharp instinct and internal voice that we have can always be trusted.”

Speaking of voices, Princess Disa and her husband King Durin III, played by Welshman Owain Arthur, have Scottish accents. The harfoots talk with an Irish lilt, elves are very properly spoken. What’s the thinking behind the accent choices?

“I know that J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, our showrunners, are not only incredible with story and text, but they have this poetic, quite musical mind,” Nomvete explains. “And so we wanted to find, in a sense, the music of each race.

“I think the way that we speak and the way that we use our voice is our own music within society, our own rhythms. And it just felt like your incredible Scottish accent was the most powerful way we could deliver the dwarven text.”

Nomvete apologises if her accent isn’t totally spot on – though I think it’s pretty decent.

“I’m working on it. If there’s any mistakes, I’m really sorry. We felt like it provided a great musicality and strength behind the words.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is available to watch on Prime now with a new episode weekly

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