Amazon were pitched Lord of the Rings TV shows on young Aragorn and a Gimli spin-off

(Image credit: New Line)

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, the upcoming Prime Video series, takes place in Middle-earth during the Second Age, a few thousand years before the events of The Hobbit. However, when the streamer initially fielded pitches from potential writers, there was no set period they wanted to explore. At the time, rumors swelled that a show about a young Aragorn was a contender, something that J.D. Payne, the co-showrunner on The Rings of Power, confirms. 

"When we first went up for the job, we were told there were literally dozens of other people who were also throwing their hat in the ring, and everyone was coming in with different things," he tells Total Film in the new issue of the magazine, which features Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on the cover. "Amazon bought the rights to the trilogy, the appendices, and The Hobbit. They said the field was wide open – any story within that material, you could tell. So you had people pitching the Young Aragon show, or the Gimli spinoff, or other kinds of things."

Along with fellow writer Patrick McKay, the duo set about planning something that would be ambitious and whet Amazon's appetite. 

"They wanted to make something that felt worthy of Tolkien," Payne continues. "And as we really thought about it, and culled through the material, and saw all different kind of stories – that story of the Second Age, so the Dark Lord Sauron, and the Fall of Númenor, and the fight against Sauron at Mount Doom. That arc of the major Second Age events felt like such an amazing, untold story."

The pair set about planning the show's arch, looking at the "trail of breadcrumbs" that author J.R.R. Tolkien left behind, as McKay puts it. "I dare say that if something clicked, it’s that the stories are good because they are from him," he adds.

Read more from the cast and crew behind the series in the new issue of Total Film, featuring our huge TV preview on The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, House of the Dragon, Andor, The Mandalorian season 3, and so much more. 

The magazine reaches shelves on July 26 and will be available to order through this link. Or subscribe and never miss an issue again and receive magazines with exclusive cover images and insider secrets. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is streaming on Prime Video from September 2. 

Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.