TV & Movies

Lenny Henry: Lord of the Rings star opens up on career change

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power trailer from Amazon

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Comedy actor and presenter Sir Lenny Henry is best known for his sitcom performances and for hosting some of the most iconic live shows in television history. He has now delved into the fantasy genre with Amazon Prime Video’s brand new Lord of the Rings prequel, The Rings of Power, and Express.co.uk had an exclusive chat with the star about what drew him to the ambitious project at the series’ London premiere.

Actor and comedian Lenny revealed he has enjoyed his transition from comedy to drama in recent years.

Originally known for comedy series Tiswas, The Lenny Henry Show and Chef!, the actor has more recently been seen taking on some weighty dramatic roles.

Having starred in the likes of The Syndicate, Broadchurch and The Long Song, he has now turned his attention to the fantasy genre for Prime Video’s new Lord of the Rings series.

In The Rings of Power, Lenny portrays Harfoot elder Sadoc Burrows, and Express.co.uk recently caught up with him to find out what attracted him to the project.

“What’s surprising about that? Of course, I want to be in this show!” he said of his latest role.

“The writing [drew me in]. JD [Payne] and Patrick [McKay] sent me pages and said, ‘Learn this, and just put something on tape for us on your phone.’ So I spent a lot of time learning it thinking, ‘What is this world?’”

Showrunners JD and Patrick have taken JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth saga back thousands of years to the mysterious Second Age described in The Silmarillion and appendices.

Lenny portrays a wise yet eccentric Harfoot, or Hobbit, whose wisdom helps his small community evade the larger denizens of their dangerous surroundings.

“These people are very nature-based, they’re at one with nature,” Lenny explained.

“They protect each other. They’re a community, they’re a little family. And [I] get to be the wisdom, [I] get to be the elder.”

Lenny went on to reveal he has enjoyed shaking up his acting career after his credits were dominated by comedy for so many years.

He continued: “More and more of these parts are coming my way these days and I like it, I kind of like not being the doofus!”

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“Sometimes it’s nice to be the person that has wisdom. Also, since 2010 I’ve been doing more and more drama.”

The Rings of Power star again credited JD and Patrick and their impressive scripts for the prequel’s first season for drawing him in.

It’s unclear whether Lenny will remain in the cast beyond the first season, but fans can expect plenty more from the Harfoots as plans are already being made for the second instalment to film in the UK.

“It’s lovely to receive a script where you get excited,” Lenny added.

“Usually in comedy, you’re in a room making it up yourself. Whereas with this, JD and Patrick are such good writers and creators that you want to be in that world.

“So I really thought, ‘Why wouldn’t I want to be in that world? Lenny, you’ve been waiting to do this since you were eight! Go for it!’

“Some swords? Yes. Orcs? Yes. Big ears? Yes. Rubber feet? Yes. Do it!”

Beyond his adventures in Middle Earth, Lenny has clearly taken a liking to the fantasy genre, as he’ll also soon be seen in Netflix’s upcoming spin-off The Witcher: Blood Origin.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continues Fridays on Amazon Prime Video.

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