Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series is primed to be one of the biggest (and most expensive) TV shows in history, promising to explore new eras and new characters in Middle Earth while staying true to the spirit of Tolkien’s classic. Well, mostly true. A new report from LOTR fansite TheOneRing.net sure makes it sound like Amazon plans to include nude scenes in the show.
TheOneRing.net found some casting calls for the show stipulating that actors should “be comfortable with nudity.” An entertainment website called Knight Edge Media linked to a casting call it says is for the series, saying the filmmakers “need Nude people based in Auckland — age 18 plus, all shapes and sizes.”
And then there’s Jennifer Ward-Lealand, who’s apparently been hired as an intimacy coordinator for the series. Intimacy coordinators are a booming trend in the wake of the #metoo movement — brought onto film sets for sensitive shoots involving nudity and sex scenes to help advocate for the safety and wellbeing of the actors involved and make sure that directors don’t push their casts into anything they’re not comfortable with. Ward-Lealand announced on her website that she’d been hired for “Amazon’s UAP.” UAP is apparently the working title for the Lord of the Rings series.
With Game of Thrones down for the count, pretty much every studio is on the hunt for a new contender. Lord of the Rings, with its warring kingdoms, fantasy flourishes and rich IP is certainly a contender for the crown. But it’s possible that filmmakers learned all the wrong lessons from Game of Thrones, focusing as much on that show’s penchant for gratuitous nudity as they are on strong storytelling and compelling characters (which the show did have, albeit with frustrating inconsistency).
Can nudity have a place in art? A brief survey of art history would certainly suggest so. But some families — particularly those with kids — hoping to sit down and enjoy a return trip to Middle Earth might not find this particular piece of art the ideal context to explore that tension. It’s hard to judge without knowing what the finished product is going to be but suffice to say, this is probably not going to be the Lord of the Rings energy a lot of fans grew up with.