Amazon Prime Video's recently released billion-dollar TV series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, features a line-up of graduates and staff from Unitec’s School of Creative Industries in the cast and crew of series one.
The eight-episode first series, based on JRR Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings, is currently screening worldwide. Filmed in New Zealand, the series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Unitec Performing and Screen Arts graduates to feature among the cast include Bridie Sisson (2018) who plays The Dweller, a mysterious creature who leads the trio in search of The Stranger, who appeared to crash into Middle-Earth in the meteor.
The actress previously appeared in the Netflix series Cowboy Bebop, web series Touch Wood, soap opera Shortland Street, and the film The Justice of Bunny King.
Bridie credits her time at Unitec for the depth of learning she was able to draw on for her role. “My training at Unitec has a very special place in my heart,” she said. “I’m continuously grateful for the embodied technique, curiosity and self-reflection that my three years at the School of Performing and Screen Arts sparked in me. Particularly for Lord of the Rings, I found myself reverting back to accent and movement work as inspiration and guidance in developing my character of The Dweller.”
Fellow Unitec acting graduate Kip Chapman (2002) plays Rían, an Elf of Lindon. He is known for his film appearances, including Top of the Lake (2013), The Hothouse (2007) and 6 Days (2017), as well as for creating numerous stage shows and interactive live experiences.
“My role was a career highlight and I was constantly in awe of everything that was created, from the incredible costumes to the mind-blowing sets,” said Kip. “It was a huge team effort and I was a proud to be one of the hundreds of Kiwis working on the experience.”
In addition, Unitec acting graduate Shelley Waddams (2017), plays an elf attendant.
Nearly 20 Unitec graduates feature in the crew who worked on series one, including movement coaches, prop makers and casting assistants. Former and current Unitec staff members also feature in key crew roles, including costume design and voice production.
“Our School of Creative Industries is so thrilled to see the successful work of our Performing and Screen Arts alumni come to life in Amazon’s epic series,” said Dr Vanessa Byrnes, Head of Unitec’s School of Creative Industries. “It’s a significant achievement to have both past and present staff and graduates creating such dynamic work across several departments. All of our people who played a part are to be celebrated for their talent, insight, skill, and creative brilliance to bear on this vast international production.”
Unitec graduates among the crew include:
- Rose Worley (Props Buyer)
- Michael Bowerman (Crew)
- Nick Rowland (Crew)
- Tallulah Holly-Massey (Movement Coach)
- Renee Te Pairi (Senior Scenic)
- Elliot Jackson (Prop Maker)
- Jason Hodzelmans (Casting)
- Thomas Sutcliffe (Assistant Set Dresser)
- Lisa Dunn (Props Buyer)
- Rose Morgan (Costume Assistant)
- Jadin Leslie (Assistant Location Coordinator)
- Luke Ripley (Lamp Operator)
- Mel Bailey (Onset Production Assistant)
- Jade Tannen (Set Decoration Assistant)
- Rosie Abel (Safety Officer)
- Hope Healy (Hand Finisher)
- Zephir Delamore
- Ryan Fisher
- Katie Paterson
Current and former Unitec staff among the crew include:
- Michael Craven (background voice)
- Erin O’Neil (Costume)
- Anna Graves (Buying Coordinator)
- Shirley Fary (stitcher)
- Duncan Milne (Set Decoration Swing Gang)
- Age Pryor (Trade Assistant)