NEWS: Will There Be Nudity in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?

It is likely that we will see The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power nude scenes, but I have not been able to divine the degree of gratuitousness at this stage, nor who the actresses that will be appearing nude are. It’s September 2, 2022 as I write, and the information I have at my disposal is that which has been made public, whether intentionally or otherwise, and the content of the first two episodes of the first season. That said, I intend to do my duty in following the series along as the episodes are released – just as I am doing with House of the Dragon and as I did with Becoming Elizabeth (the latter of which sadly went nowhere further in the nudity department).

For that reason, don’t be too disappointed by this limited news.
Instead, keep on scrolling.
All updates will be added to the bottom of this post.

This one actually snuck up on me a little bit because for some time now, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has had an age rating of TV-14 in the United States and similar and 13+ in countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the crucial global film and television market of Ecuador. I confess this says more about my laziness than anything else, but because of these age certifications, I’ve just not bothered to check up on whether there will be any nude scenes in Amazon’s latest Tolkien adaptation until now. I mean, this is an age rating shared with Stranger Things, and no one was under any illusion that Netflix’s flagship show was going to be full of nude scenes (except for that random women’s prison shower scene at Hawkins Infirmary).

But again, the deficit is clearly my own since people have been digging into this topic for a solid two years now. If we flip our calendars all the way back to October 6, 2020, the intrepid researchers at Tolkien gigafan site The One Ring had put together a comprehensive investigation into the questions of whether The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power would feature sex and nudity. The ember that started this conflagration was the find that Amazon were hiring an “intimacy coordinator” in New Zealand for a production that pretty much everyone agreed was their Lord of the Rings adaptation. Casting calls by local talent agency BGT Actors Models & Talent that called for “talent who are comfortable with partial or full nudity” were also found, and these too were linked to the production of the series.

Pop culture magazine NME picked up the story the very next day, echoing the findings of the team from The One Ring and adding a whole lot of discontent from Tolkien fans from social media. “Literally no one is asking for pointless sex & nudity in the Amazon LOTR series,” they quote one Twitter user. I’d like to add that if I was personally polled on this, her outcome would have been different.

Amazon nonetheless remained tight-lipped on the matter, and NME themselves revisited the matter on July 21, 2021, when they announced that a “spy report” had revealed that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will “include nudity but no sex.” When the era of Cold War espionage lay down to rest the long rest at the turn of the 1990s, who would have thought that it would be resurrected in the form of rabid fappers infiltrating Amazon to determine whether we’re going to be seeing elf boobs in upcoming Tolkien adaptations? Truly we’ve ascended as a civilization.

All of this aside, we still had no official word from The ‘Zon, but that finally changed on February 10 of this year, when showrunners Patrick McKay and JD Payne were interviewed by Vanity Fair. A whole lot of new information came out of that, and everyone was hoping it would finally answer the nudity question. A lot of people even walked out of it thinking it did, but funny enough, wildly different conclusions were extracted by said people, leaving us no further along at all.

What we did learn from it, however, is that some element of the production, or perhaps the entirety of the production, view The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power as filling the same niche as HBO’s Game of Thrones. At one point in the article, Game of Thrones is even labelled as a “spiritual successor” to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, so in a way, it’s almost like they’re seeing it as coming full circle. But where does that take us on the nudity question. None of the Lord of the Rings films had nude scenes, so that’s hardly a consistent thread that cannot be violated. And yet, Game of Thrones alumnus Bryan Cogman was reportedly working as an “adviser” to “get [The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power] off the ground” while Peter Jackson was not, so it’s perhaps not too much of a stretch to guess where the new show will be getting more of its influence from.

The showrunners did explicitly address the nudity question in the interview, but as with everything else we have had so far on the topic, the answer wasn’t as clear as most people, myself included, would have liked it to be. Patrick McKay had said that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power would not have “Westerosi levels of violence and sex.” Further clarification was given from the producer, saying that they wanted the show to be “for everyone, for kids who are 11, 12, and 13,” and even though the implication behind that seems to be that there would be no nudity whatsoever, such language was never actually used, nor even euphemisms thereof. It would have been very easy for McKay to simply say “there is no nudity” if there was none, operating under the full knowledge that no one (except for me) wanted it and that there would be nothing but positive feedback if such a thing was announced. Yet he didn’t.

No consensus on the matter was reached by third parties either. Somag News simply accepted that it’s a foregone conclusion that Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series “will feature scenes of nudity.” A similar conclusion was reached by George The Giant Slayer, who added a further piece of evidence – a still from the production of the series which shows Galadriel actress Morfydd Clark wearing a wet giant-underwear-gown-thing with the relief of her right nipple clearly visible. I’ll actually address this with a bit more information in a bit.

But in the meantime, speaking of giant underwear, our Mormon friends over at Deseret News have taken a considerably more measured approach to analyzing the limited information, which is to say that they have no idea. To give them credit, at the time that article was written (and still as I write now, for that matter), that is the only fair assessment. Considering, however, that the article is titled “Can your kids watch Amazon’s new ‘Lord of the Rings’ series?” and the subtitle includes the text, “but will it feature sex, nudity and violence similar to HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’?” I’m still a little disappointed that there was not actual answer to all of that. But then who am I to speak when I’m basically doing the exact same thing… unless this post has already been updated with new information at the bottom by the time you’re reading this…

As late as August 26, a mere week before the pilot episode was to release on Amazon Prime, people were still humming and hawing over whether there will or will not be nudity and sex scenes in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. For a series that allegedly cost $462 million to create – and that’s the first season alone! – I’m surprised there’s so little solid information out about it. I suppose keeping the mystery helps generate hype. Free marketing and all that.

But enough about the background. Let’s have a look at what’s actually in the first two episodes in terms of nudity.

Season 1, Episode 1: A Shadow of the Past

Galadriel, played by Welsh actress Morfydd Clark, is on a ship with a bunch of elves who are sailing to Elf Valhalla or Disneyland Paris or something. They undergo some sort of bizarre ritual undressing (kinky) where each of the elves are stripped down to their baggy underclothing by others. Bras and panties aren’t really a thing in Middle Earth, so, counter-intuitively, we don’t actually see any more skin from Galadriel after she gets stripped down to her undies. That’s it for this one.

Season 1, Episode 2: Adrift

Galadriel is still in her giant Mormon underwear, but having spent an indeterminate amount of time swimming through an endless ocean, her undies are just a little bit wet. We had reference to this earlier in the post with regard to the still from before the first episodes aired where you could see Morfydd Clark’s nipple – or the relief of it, anyway.

Well, in the episode itself, there are no outlines of Galadriel’s nipples visible – not in any shot and not from any angle. I don’t know whether the shots were reshot from the time the stills were taken or whether her nipple bumps were digitally removed (imagine having that absurd job), but they’re just not there. To make things more confusing, not only does it not look like she’s wearing anything under her gown insofar as no outlines are visible, but when the wet cloth is on her skin, the color you see is distinctly a skin color too. That skin color just carries across over where her nipples should be as well. The whole thing reminds me a bit of when Hollywood went through a phase of compositing digital nipples over actress’ real nipples so that their nude scenes would be… less obscene? Who the hell knows. Oh well, at least Galadriel’s thigh gap was constantly visible as the light shone through her wet undergarment.

That’s all we’ve got now, but given that all of the evidence suggests that there should be nudity in the show, I will be keeping up with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power every week so that when we do get that nude scene – or, even better, nude scenes – you all are going to be able to find them right here, captured and color corrected for maximum pleasure.

And that takes us to the final point: Who could the possible future nude scenes be from? Based on the casting call mentioned earlier, we’re going to be seeing extras naked, but hopefully, given that the producers are willing to swing that, there will also be nudity from one or more of the main characters. Let’s look at our options.

Galadriel is sort of kind of the main character of the show. Sort of. Kind of. Played by Welsh actress born in Sweden (the village just north of Merthyr Tydfil, not the country) Morfydd Clark, the elvish warrior and resident conspiracy schizo is the prime candidate for a nude scene for two reasons. The first is her prominent role in the show and its promotional materials. The second is because Morfydd Clark has done a nude scene before. It wasn’t the most graphic of nude scenes unless you’re a hardcore ass man, but a nude scene, it was. I’m referring to her role as Maud in Saint Maud.

Nori Brandyfoot is another candidate. Played by Australian actress Markella Kavenagh, she operates on the periphery of what could be a comic relief role. The harfoot hobbits seem to exist in what is for now anyway a rather chilled out storyline, so plenty of opportunities for lewdness, I guess. Though I don’t know how it’s supposed to work with Nori being made to look about two foot tall thanks to camera trickery. Markella Kavenagh herself has not yet done a nude scene, but she did have a lewd scene that involved a bra, a pair of panties, and another girl in 2020’s My First Summer. Then she had another lewd scene in the same movie where she’s taking a soapy, bubbly bath with another girl, both of whom are completely naked (none of which is visible, sadly). Then she had another lewd scene, again in the same film, where she’s making out with another girl. I wonder if that trend is going to carry over to some lesbianic hobbit shenanigans in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

The final candidate is Bronwyn, played by Nazanin Boniadi. Why? Because she has a prominent role and because the actress had a very tame sex scene in the Starz series Counterpart. Normally I don’t mention Starz without going into a tirade about how they’ve gone from nudity-fests like Spartacus to one-nude-scene-per-season stuff like Becoming Elizabeth, so I’m going to save everyone the boredom by just stopping here.

Check back on this page for any updates. Everything will be appended to the end of the post as it’s added, so scroll right to the bottom if you ever want to see if there’s anything new.

UPDATE – Sep 9

Episode 3: Adar aired today. There was no nudity. There was a perfect opportunity when Galadriel was presented as a prisoner on the island kingdom of Númenor. She’s dressed in her nasty rag see-through underclothes (which are sadly no longer see-through) and is either given a dress or steals one for her escape attempt. This undressing and redressing was not shown on screen. Boooo, Jeff.

Speaking of Jeff Bezos, I’m going to use this update to bring up something I missed when I wrote the original post. I’ve personally not seen any video nor heard any audio recordings of Jeff Bezos talking on the topic, but it keeps on being pushed that the Amazon founder himself was gung ho about the company making a show that pretty much is Game of Thrones in every way other than the story.

You can find material going back as far as 2017, as is this article from Insider, talking about how “Jeff Bezos wants Amazon to get its own Game of Thrones,” citing the company’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s alt-history masterpiece The Man in the High Castle as a sort of proto-example. That one didn’t have any nudity to my memory either, though. There were certainly no Alexa Davalos nude scenes in it, although we do have her heart-stopping nakedness through Feast of Love to make up for it, I suppose.

Fast-forward to 2021, and you’ve got articles like the one from ScreenRant talking about Jeff Bezos allegedly presenting his executives with a list of 13 elements that are integral to Game of Thrones and rejecting everything that does not meet all of them for a flagship Amazon Prime show. The source for this information is one Brad Stone and what he had shared in an interview with TheWrap. I’m not going to vouch for any veracity here because no real proof is given unless there is some juicy information behind the paywall of the last article, but I can say the following with absolute certainty:

If a list was genuinely created of 13 elements that are integral to Game of Thrones and its roaring success, the merciless onslaught of gratuitous nudity is either one of them or the list was written by an idiot.

We are now up to episode 3 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and don’t seem any closer to getting any nude scenes out of it, and that’s in spite of the constant fear-mongering that preceded the show on that front.

For what it’s worth, as recently as this year, Brad Stone’s book was still being referenced on the matter, including in this piece by InsideHook, which starts with a supposed quote from Jeff Bezos: “I want my Game of Thrones.”

UPDATE – Sep 16

Episode 4: The Great Wave of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was full of full frontal nudity and elf sex scenes.

Just kidding. There was absolutely no nakedness on show.

Galadriel did get imprisoned at one point, but Jesus Franco was too busy being dead to guest direct an episode where Morfydd Clark plays an elf in a women’s prison setting that gets falsely accused of prostitution by a corrupt Númenor judge and has to endure a sadistic lesbian prison warden. Oh well.

In the closest news I can relate to nudity, I finally clicked as to where I recognize Queen Regent Míriel from. Cynthia Addai-Robinson played the second incarnation of Naevia in Spartacus. After Lesley-Ann Brandt left the role following Gods of the Arena, which is in story chronology the first but in release chronology the second season, Cynthia Addai-Robinson picked up the role for Vengeance and War of the Damned. Both actresses had nude scenes in the role.

Does this mean that we’re going to get a nude scene from her in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power? Let’s be honest – at this stage, probably not. But a man can dream.

And dream, I must, because if you haven’t been keeping up, House of the Dragon finally delivered on what we’ve been waiting for since the pilot episode – Milly Alcock, who plays Rhaenyra Targaryen, had a nude scene in the fourth episode.

Hanging onto that thread proved to be fruitful, and it is for that reason that I will continue to hang onto this one.

Admittedly, House of the Dragon set the stage a bit more confidently with its nude scene from Sonoya Mizuno in the pilot episode, but with all of the talk of how much nudity The Rings of Power is supposed to have, I feel just as teased, if a whole lot less fulfilled.

UPDATE – Sep 23

Episode 5: Partings is completely devoid of nudity or anything approaching. At this stage, if they show an ankle, I’m sure it’ll cause an uproar from the change in tone alone.

I did a very brief surface dig to see what other sources are commenting on the matter. You know, considering the near-consensus before the show aired was that it would be Game of Thrones reborn, steady stream of gratuitous nude scenes and all.

One source is primarily based off of the first episode of the series with a hint to keeping track of future episodes, which may or may not have materialized. Either way, they haven’t missed much, and their note of a “mostly nude male body” with “something covering his genitals” pretty much sums up the extent of the nudity in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Another article took a more interesting approach. It talks about how the showrunners had already “debunked” the theories that any nudity or sex scenes would be appearing in The Rings of Power before the show even aired. Now, I had linked to what I’m assuming is the same interview with Payne and McKay that the author is referring to earlier in this post, but I’d interpreted it very, very differently, and it seemed like a whole lot more people did than didn’t.

Certainly, I’m not the only one a bit confused (dare I say dismayed?) by the scenario. Will from Naturist Fiction had a good bit to say about the stolen nudity in The Rings of Power. I’ll let you hear it from him for the full story, but I will highlight one of the examples he gives, which is Galadriel’s long swim through the high seas while she’s wearing a heavy gown. Anyone who has ever had to swim wearing a lot of clothing knows exactly how this goes.

The reason that specific scene set the stage for what will almost certainly be no nudity for the rest of the series (though I do sincerely hope I’m wrong) isn’t because it would have been an easy excuse to shoehorn a nude scene in, which is what titty shows usually need and do. Rather, it’s because if the show was real (suspension of disbelief and all that), the nudity in that situation would be a given. Meaning that the showrunners had to explicitly remove nudity from a situation in which it was expected – and not just from coomers but from people hunting for realism as well.

At this stage, I’m wondering whether all of the “leaks” from before the show aired that seemed to indicate it would be full of nude scenes were just a very clever marketing ploy from Jeff Bezos. Well played if so, Jeffrey. Well played.

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