Veteran British comedian turned actor Sir Lenny Henry applauds the decision by producers of The Lord of The Rings series to create a racially diverse cast.
Henry plays Sadoc Burrows, a harfoot (proto hobbit), in Amazon’s big-budget show, which launches this Friday, and which has diverted from both Tolkien’s original books and the Hollywood films with their mainly fair-skinned characters. Henry told The Times:
“That’s to do with it being the 21st century; people want to see themselves. Of course, if you go back, there’s going to be that thing that prevails because the books don’t say . . . although some of the characters are described as hard-skinned and darker in complexion . . . but that was then, this is now and we’re telling the story now.”
After decades spent campaigning for greater diversity in the entertainment industry, where he was one of the few Black faces on British television throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Henry is relieved that other stars like Idris Elba, David Harewood, David Oyelowo and Riz Ahmed have joined him in speaking out.
“I didn’t see anybody in charge of anything that looked like me for a very long time, so that is lonely,” he told The Times. “You’ve got all of these people now saying the same things that I started saying in 2000, which is ,‘The industry needs to change and can it hurry up, please.’”
As well as his role in The Lord of the Rings, Henry will be on screen in Netflix’s upcoming The Witcher: Blood Origin.