Welsh language a big advantage when taking on the role of Galadriel, says star of new Lord of the Rings series
The Welsh language was a big advantage when taking on the role of Galadriel, the star of Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings series has said.
Morfydd Clark who is from Penarth said that the emphasis on the arts in Welsh language culture gave her a leg up into the acting profession and a different perspective on Tolkien’s world.
Amazon has confirmed Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will make its world premiere Friday, September 2.
Morfydd Clark stars alongside fellow Welsh actors Owain Arthur, Trystan Gravelle and Lloyd Owen in the series, and told the Telegraph that Welshness had been an advantage in taking on Tolkien’s world.
“I had no appreciation of what it meant to be bilingual,” she said. “You have access to so many more feelings. Your humour is different.
“Tolkien was obsessed with language. I was proud when my mum told me he based his language on Welsh.
“You can be very romantic and effusive in Welsh in a way that, in English, people would be like ‘oof, chill out’. It opens up a different part of you.”
She added that attending a Welsh language school had also pointed her in the direction of acting for a living.
“I had done a lot of plays compared to an English person,” she said. “When I got to drama school, people told me they’d been bullied for doing drama. Not in a Welsh language school.”
It’s not the first time Morfydd Clark has praised her Welsh language school in interviews with the press, saying last year that she was “lucky” to be sent to a Welsh language school as it put her on the road to being an actress.
She told i-D that she struggled with dyslexia and ADHD growing up, and felt “overwhelmed” and “burnt out”.
“Luckily, I was sent to Welsh language school [where] the arts are so respected,” she says. “There’s a right to be a performer in Welsh language and in society, and I really wasn’t good at anything else, really couldn’t put my mind to anything.”
After leaving school, Morfydd auditioned for the National Youth Theatre and Welsh Youth Opera.
She went on to play the title role in Saunders Lewis’ play Blodeuwedd with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. She also appeared as Sister Clara in the Cardiff-made His Dark Materials for the BBC.
“I really do feel that I needed access to the arts, whether or not I became an actor,” she says. “[It’s] just this place where I could be myself, really… then it happened to work out.”
She had previously told the Hollywood Reporter that she had the Welsh language to thank for inspiring her to take us acting.
According to the magazine, she credited Wales’ “proud cultural heritage and huge focus on the arts” for her early inspiration, and her first experience came from taking part as a schoolgirl “in the annual Eisteddfod Welsh-language music and poetry competition and festival”.
“That set me up for it all,” she said. “But I really got into acting because I was really bad at schoolwork.”
Morfydd Clark also told S4C’s Heno that inspiration for the role had come from Welsh legend. She had acted in Blodeuwedd, a play based on Welsh mythology, and also reading the Mabinogion.
“What has really set me up for Lord of the Rings was doing Blodeuwedd with the Theatre Genedlaethol as that’s the kind of world and magic, so I’m reading a lot of the Mabinogi at the moment to kind of inspire me,” she said.
“I didn’t know how lucky I was when I was at school doing the Urdd and everything else. I had moved to London to do drama school and I realised, ‘oh, not everyone does this’. I was so lucky.
“And also as a Welsh person, I would have been part of the arts even if I hadn’t done it as a job.
“Coming from Wales, people tell you that you have the right to do these things, and I’m so lucky to have that.”
‘Wales on steroids’
She had previously also said that having Welsh speakers on set had made her feel less homesick on the other side of the world.
“I’m very lucky there are two people in the cast and a costume designer who speak Welsh. But I am missing speaking Welsh,” she told WalesOnline.
“Being bilingual also helps in terms of learning lines and going to Welsh language school you do so much singing and reciting..
“As well as my dad singing Irish folk songs to us. It sets me up well for Shakespeare and stuff.”
She said that the fact that New Zealand looked like Wales had been helpful in that regard, too.
“It’s like Wales on steroids – it feels familiar but enormous. It has the dark green hills and grey sky, the Kyffin Williams colours, which I find very comforting,” she told i.
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