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Welsh Mabinogi myths inspired Lord of the Rings star in new Amazon series role

15 Feb 2022 4 minute read
Morfydd Clark and the Lords of the Rings title

Wales’ Mabinogi myths inspired the star of the new Lord of the Rings series which is due to be released on Amazon this September.

Welsh speaking actress Morfydd Clark takes the main role as Galadriel in the series which is said to have cost over half a billion pounds.

A trailer for Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings series prominently featuring two Welsh speaking actors has debuted during the Super Bowl in the United States.

Morfydd Clark told S4C’s Heno that inspiration for the role had come from acting 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.”

Blodeuwedd is part of the Fourth Branch of Mabinogi legends, and tells the story of a woman created out of flowers as a wife for Lleu Llaw Gyffes who was cursed with never being able to marry a mortal woman.

However, Blodeuwedd falls in love with another man, Gronw Pebr, who conspires to kill Lleu. Lleu kills Gronw Pebyr and Blodeuwedd is turned into an owl.

‘I miss speaking Welsh’

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.

Morfydd Clark added: “I’ve been very lucky with my jobs that they’ve gradually got bigger, but this year has been quite ‘wow’.”

The actress had previously spoken out about how lucky she felt to have gone to a Welsh language school.

“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.”

“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.”

Owain Arthur and Trystan Gravelle are also listed as part of the cast, and she 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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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 years ago

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit would not exist if it were not for Welsh Mythology. Yes, a bold statement to make , I know. But it’s the truth. Tolkien , CS Lewis (Welsh father), Terry Pratchett (Welsh parents) and others authors were greatly influenced by Welsh mythology In particular Tolkien & CS Lewis, who were friends and while at Oxford who gained much of their material from the tales in the Mabinogi and from figures from Arthurian legend. And it’s from these Welsh cultural foundations of Britain that created the fantasy & sci-fi genre that swept… Read more »

Shan Morgain
2 years ago

The Four branches of the Mabinogi are famous as legends, mythology. It is far less well known that this was the pioneering first to use prose instead of poetry to tell its stories. So this is the ancestor of all the stories, novels, films, gaming we enjoy today. But not only is this a pioneering work of literature, it’s a work of genius. It can be enjoyed by young children. But as a postgraduate scholar I have studied it in depth for ten years – and I am still discovering new aspects of its marvellous intricacy. Yet this complexity never… Read more »

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