‘The Rings of Power’: Markella Kavenagh on Finding the Right Tone for One of Nori’s Most Powerful Lines of Dialogue

Markella Kavenagh already had a handful of experience and credits to her name before jumping into The Rings of Power, but Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings series is about to send her star soaring in a very big way.

The show takes place before the events of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings film trilogies, during the Second Age. While there is some that view it as a time of peace initially, Galadriel, played here by Morfydd Clark, senses evil brewing. While she sets off to face it head-on, Kavenagh’s Nori is living the nomadic lifestyle of a Harfoot. Even though Nori is very dedicated to her family, friends, and the community overall, she feels pulled towards bigger things, and that pull becomes especially strong when she encounters a mysterious stranger played by David Weyman.

With the first two episodes of The Rings of Power now available on Prime Video, it’s time to get to know Kavenagh a bit better. During our Collider Ladies Night Pre-Party interview we retraced her steps from first recognizing her eagerness to become an actor to scoring a role in one of the biggest franchises in pop culture history, and that roadmap included a little insight into what Kavenagh loves most about her craft. Here’s what she said when asked for her absolute favorite part of the acting process:

“I think for me, it’s the costume and the makeup. I think that’s when I fully feel like I am the character because beforehand, the preparation that you do or the research that you do or the backstory that you do, that’s all well and good, but then to actually have the other layers come together. It also just brings you closer to the heads of department and to the crew because they’ve all had a hand in making that.”

If we’re asking for a favorite, we’ve got to cover the least favorite as well! Here’s what Kavenagh went with when asked for a part of the process where she sees room to grow:

“I think almost when you finish a scene. It sounds really strange, but it’s so easy to overthink literally everything that you’ve done, and so when you finish and you’re done for the day, and then you just go back and forth and go overthink. So I think I definitely want to get to a place where I can just feel some kind of closure on a scene at the end of the day and just go, ‘It is what it is. We’ll see what happens. You’ve done what you can do,’ and trust that a bit more, because it’s very easy to get into your head.”

Kavenagh can certainly trust what she did in the first two episodes of The Rings of Power. Not only does Nori’s spirit leap off the screen, but the push-pull she’s experiencing regarding respecting Harfoot tradition and going after her personal dreams is one of the most compelling storylines of the series thus far.

While Kavenagh did put a good deal of time into preparing to bring Nori to life on screen, she couldn’t have access to one instrumental asset in that process until she hit the set in New Zealand. Here’s what Kavenagh went with when asked for an aspect of Nori she wasn’t able to fully tap into until filming:

“The leaps and bounds from audition to character is the crew. I keep mentioning the crew, but it is true. It’s the costume and it’s the makeup and it’s the directing and it’s the actors that you get to meet. So I think a quality to her was probably how much she cares for her family and her community, and I think that that was just helped because I really did care about the people that I was working with. So there was a chemistry there, hopefully that will resonate with people, that people will feel connected to that was purely because I felt close to the other actors.”

The Rings of Power features the work of a massive team of exceptional creators, but when asked to name an unsung hero of the production, Kavenagh went straight to someone who’s vital to creating the Harfoot lifestyle:

“Anton from the green team. He was amazing. Basically he was in charge of organizing whether we needed more grass or more mud or this or that, and there’d be days where he would set all that up and then would see one of us slip and come up to us and go, ‘Do you need solid ground?’ And then all of a sudden, there’d be like five people coming in to add more grass so that you didn’t slip and trip over. I think it was that. And he was always so joyful and positive, and he was working ridiculous hou

While it’s easy to get caught up in focusing on the stunning sets in such an expansive show, if you’re looking for a smaller, more intimate example of how Kavenagh’s able to go above and beyond with the material she’s given, you can find just that in Episode 2. In a mere four words of dialogue, for that matter.

In the midst of a rather tense encounter with The Stranger, Nori shouts, “I’m just a Harfoot!” Based on how she’s carried herself thus far in the show, it’s quite clear that Nori doesn’t actually think she’s just a Harfoot — or just any one thing for that matter. So how exactly did Kavenagh go about finding the right tone for such a line so that it reflects self-doubt even when Nori is well aware of her truth? She explained:

“Our wonderful director of that episode, J.A. [Bayona], we were trying to find the right tone for that because she thinks she’s meant to be doing something else, but then at the same time, she’s got such insecurities about that. There was meant to be a bit of humor to it as well, which is like, ‘This is ridiculous! Look at me! I can’t help you,’ and so we just kind of workshopped it a lot and did so many different takes. Tonally is was kind of everywhere for a while. But I think the important thing was [it’s] almost like she’s regurgitating what she’s been told so many times. And it’s that thing as well where, if you feel like you failed, you say what you’ve been told that you are, and for her it’s, ‘You’re just a Harfoot, so just stay in your place.’”

Looking for more from Kavenagh on her journey to The Rings of Power and her experience working on the Prime Video series? You can find just that in our full Collider Ladies Night Pre-Party conversation in the video at the top of this article or you can listen to it in podcast form below:

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