NYCC Interview: Felicia Day Talks ‘The Official The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Podcast’ [EXCLUSIVE]

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Prime Video

One of the most highly anticipated new series this year is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The prequel covering previously un-adapted territory from the work of J. R. R. Tolkien has been a huge hit for Prime Video, marking the first time a series from the streamer has debuted at number one on the Nielsen chart. Alongside the series, Amazon Music and Prime Video are launching the new companion podcast, The Official The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Podcast. The podcast, hosted by Tolkien super-fan and actress Felicia Day, will feature in-depth interviews with the team behind making the show.

As part of New York Comic Con, Nerds & Beyond had the opportunity to chat with Day about her love for Tolkien, how the podcast format enables her to go deeper into the lore for fans, and what her reaction to The Rings of Power was as a fan!

Note: Answers may be edited for clarity.

Nerds & Beyond: One of the things that makes you so relatable from a fan perspective is that it seems like you genuinely “nerd out” about everything you do. Because of that, what was it like when you first got the call to do this podcast as a Tolkien fan? How did it originally come about?

Felicia Day: When I got the call to do the podcast, I was so excited. I am sort of a go-to fan woman in the nerd area, but I have also turned down quite a lot. I really don’t wanna do something that I genuinely don’t love because a) it’s not fun for me, and b) there’s gonna be somebody who’s better at doing it if they love it. For example, I will never host anything horror. [laughs] I’m sorry! It’s just not my genre, not my passion. And I would never want to fake that because fans could tell a mile away. But as somebody who dreams of medieval bars and going over beautiful landscapes on a horse, that is literally my jam!

Whether it’s in a video game or a book, or a movie, or TV, fantasy is where I live. It’s what I love. And to be able to cover the show in depth, which I had been looking forward to anyway … I mean, I had already started reading The Lord of the Rings to prepare for the show! So I was already mid re-read when I got the call. [laughs] It was a dream come true. And the process of working on it has just been a joy. It was my portal into revisiting all the works of Tolkien. So not only did I re-read all of The Lord the Rings, I re-read The Silmarillion, which later in life now has clicked a lot more for me [laughs], The Unfinished Tales; I read everything because I love reading it and the depth of world-building is so stunning in the world of Tolkien. And there really is no limit to it.

Having re-read all that fresh, I know that I’m just scratching the surface of where I could go if I re-read and read more, and more, and more. And the wonderful thing about this show is that having done that much research and being able to see the episodes once or twice and then also speaking to the cast and crew, I realized what dedicated fans of the Tolkien world the showrunners are and how they are layering so much that I don’t even think you can appreciate on a first watch.

Nerds & Beyond: Yes, absolutely. And what was it that brought you to Lord of the Rings in the first place? What was your first introduction to it?

Felicia Day: I read The Hobbit when I was a little girl. My mom and dad read it to me, and then I read it later. And, you know, The Hobbit not having a prominent female character was a little bit tough, but then I got into The Lord of the Rings during college. I mean, any person with a sword is going to attract me [laughs]. I was obsessed with Wheel of Time as a a kid too, and for me, I don’t geek out when I meet actors and directors. I geek out when I meet authors. So when I first met George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Juliet Marillier … I do genuinely get a little bit breathless.

So this is like the perfect combination. You have source material being brought to life with a lot of question marks in the actual lore that they’re really filling in. Of course, they do have to make some changes to compress things into a television format. You only have an hour, and you have 200 pages. But at the same time, they are so conscious of honoring the source material, and I really appreciate that about them.

Image of Felicia Day
Staff Photographer Kayla

Nerds & Beyond: And getting to interview them in an audio format, I’m sure it was really great because you can take your time and really get a lot of your questions answered. What do you feel is specific to the podcast format that really lets people express themselves a little bit more, especially with these behind-the-scenes shows?

Felicia Day: These are longer interviews. So rather than an interview like what we are doing, I get 40-45 minutes with the actors, the showrunners, the composer, and the director. For me, we’re not saying that this is the Tolkien expert podcast; it’s not here for the hardcore people. Those fans are going to take more from it about the personality of the people behind the scenes. [The podcast] is really more for someone who is brand new to the world.

In everything I do, I’ve always wanted to provide an entry point for people. When I created The Guild, it was to show people what gamers were. When I co-created Tabletop, it was to show people how wonderful board games were, D&D and Magic the Gathering. All the shows I used to produce were about entry points for people. And so the podcast is really formatted to that. Again, if you are a hardcore Tolkien person, you’re probably going to be drawn into learning more about the personalities behind the show. But then, if you are newer, I’m hoping to open the door to you further exploring the lore, further appreciating what’s on screen, and then being able to see more layers to what has been put into the show.

Nerds & Beyond: Going off of that, were there any behind-the-scenes tidbits that were unexpected that you were excited to learn about by doing the show?

Felicia Day: Well, I was able to get an hour with the showrunners. The showrunners speak a little bit in every single episode, but then I got an hour in-depth interview with them for the finale. And I can’t tell you how much I admire J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay now because they have a reverence for the source material and for the fans’ love of the source material, and they want to do it right. It is amazing to hear about the attention to detail, the depth of their knowledge, and also the Easter eggs. I actually found out a couple of Easter eggs I didn’t appreciate before I interviewed them. One of them made me squee, and I’m sure it’s been surfaced by somebody, but it is not probably well known. And it made me squee! I don’t wanna go into detail, but it is a certain object [laughs].

And every single actor has such interesting background. All of these actors are very professional, they’ve worked a lot, but they don’t have such a high profile that they would be super recognizable on the street. And now they’ve been vaunted to a place where everybody in the world knows them. So hearing their journey and their process of just getting the job and working on a set like this was really fascinating. And it made me want to visit that set more than anything.

Nerds & Beyond: Absolutely. And speaking of things that make you squee, when you were watching the show for the first time, were there any moments that really stuck out to you as a fan where you said, “Oh yes, they absolutely nailed this; they’ve got this”?

Felicia Day: I loved seeing things like in episode six, spoiler alert when we see the origin story of Mordor. That was like, “whoa, whaaaaat?!” [laughs] I mean, I kind of suspected, but not really! But when you rewatch it, you realize how much they layered it in going up to then. The palantír, seeing that in episode, I think three or four. We’re talking about the Second Age, which is thousands of years before the Third Age. But there are some things from the Third Age that you recognize a little bit of in the show, like a wink. You know you’re going somewhere, but you don’t really know how we’re gonna get there. It makes the journey that much more exciting.

Nerds & Beyond: I do have one final question as we wrap up here. As a Supernatural fan, and especially as a queer Supernatural fan, obviously, your character Charlie meant the world to us. You’ve been so publicly supportive of Robbie Thompson, who created that character, in his new endeavors in the Supernatural universe with the prequel The Winchesters. Why do you think he was the right choice to run that project, and what are you looking forward to seeing as a fan now rather than an actor within the world?

Felicia Day: I’ll be transparent with you. My last major acting job was Supernatural. And there’s a reason for that. I stepped away from it because I didn’t really didn’t trust that there was any role like it out there again for me. And now, two years later, I’m actually thinking about, “Okay, next year, I’m gonna get back into it; I’m gonna have faith in the system!” But it is so very rare to have a character like that; that’s such a gift. And I didn’t want to have a letdown. I didn’t want to just go to another job. The things I do are my passions.

For me, Robbie created that character, and Charlie really is him; she is Robbie Thompson in a lot of ways. And he is a genuine, incredible, inclusive, considerate, thoughtful, and creative person. He loves Supernatural. He really does have a love for that show. And so combining all those things, I think it’s gonna be a different approach, and I’m excited to see that because we don’t want to see a repeat of what the boys did. I mean, they’re iconic. They already did their thing.

It’s a parallel with The Rings of Power. They’re filling in some blanks that we only know some vague things about. And so we, we have some benchmarks that we can put our hooks into lore-wise, but we’re gonna learn a lot. And I have immense trust in Robbie that we’re gonna learn some things that are super exciting and modern and inclusive.

The Official The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Podcast will be released on October 14 on Amazon Music for free to coincide with the season finale. For more information, check out our announcement post!

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By Jules
I am a nurse and dedicated nerd from Boston, MA. When I'm not at work, I'm rewatching old favorites like Supernatural or discovering my new obsessions (too many to count!). When not fangirling, I can be found reading, writing, or listening to a true crime podcast. You can find me on Twitter @juleswritesblog for more nerdy nonsense.
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