Benjamin Walker is best known for starring in the musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and films such as “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and “In the Heart of the Sea,” but his next role could shape up to be his most career-defining. The actor is a member of the ensemble cast for Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” television series, now shooting its first season in New Zealand. Walker recently told Collider he was initially hesitant to join the series. What changed his mind? A phone call with showrunner J.D. Payne that came from an unexpected place.
“It was a long audition process, and then I didn’t hear from them for a few months,” Walker said. “I mean the whole world was struggling to figure out what we were going to do next at that point. And then one of the showrunners, J.D. [Payne] called me and he pitched the part and pitched the commitment, which is large. And I could hear on the phone that there was a PA system and a lot of noise in the background, and I still wasn’t sure. And I said, ‘J.D. where are you?’ And he said, ‘I’m in the hospital.’ And I said, ‘Are you okay?’ and he goes, ‘No. My wife’s having a baby.’”
That Payne would be focusing on the casting of his “Lord of the Rings” series during a life event as momentous as the birth of his child put a lot into perspective for Walker. As the actor said, “He’s got the level of commitment you’re going to need to get this show to be where it should be. It would be a huge mistake to not take part.”
Signing on to Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” required Walker to get over any fear that came with agreeing to a multi-season commitment. “Yes. That is weird,” Walker said about accepting a role that could span years. “But again, with Tolkien, I was a huge fan as a kid, and still am as an adult. And it was kind of one of those where if you say no you might regret it for the rest of your life. It comes out and you go, ‘I could have been doing that?’”
Walker could not reveal any specific details about Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” series. He remains in New Zealand for now, and he has no idea when the first season will wrap, adding, “It is a bit nebulous at this point. We’ve been here a long time and they’ll let us go when they’re done with us.”
Expect “Lord of the Rings” to debut on Amazon sometime in 2022.
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