There are few epic stories so timeless What The Lord of the rings. This universe of hobbits, elves, dragons, humans and magic has already had several adaptations, and we always want more. This September 1, a long-awaited one arrives: The Rings of Power, a kind of prequel based on Tolkien’s writings (but not on a particular book) and brings a super special cast, including Puerto Rican Ismael Cruz Córdova.
Your presence is important for several reasons. The first is that he is a multi-talented artist, appearing not only in film, television, and theater, but mastering comedy and drama (and now, Tolkien’s mix of both as well), and was also a champion swimmer. and makes music and visual arts.
The other is that, for the first time in a live-action adaptation of Tolkien, we will see more diversity in the world of elves, who have traditionally been played by white actors, but Ishmael fought hard for this role.
Who is Ismael Cruz Cordova?
The actor was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, in 1987, and left the island in 2006 to study theater in New York. One of his earliest roles was in Sesame Street. Since then she has participated in series such as Ray Donovan Y SMILFas well as appearing in a film directed by Oscar winner Ang Lee.
He is super close to his family (in a 2016 interview with Interviewwas accompanied by his mother, his father, two of his three sisters and his nephew, whom he described as his favorite person in the world).
In that same interview, he commented that, although he was always an artistic person (he tells us that he liked to draw a lot), his goal was to have a “safe” profession with which he could help his family, and that is why he decided to be a pediatrician. He tells us that she always liked to draw a lot
Later, he won a scholarship to a private high school and began acting there. He tried to go to a university in NY, but he didn’t have money to travel to audition, so he wasn’t accepted. When he finally made it to town, he auditioned for NYU and entered its famous Tish School of the Arts. There, he worked 3 jobs while having his academic load and spent 4 years living on other people’s couches.
Our conversation with the star of The Rings of Power
Most fantasy stories take place in a very white world, even though there is the freedom to imagine anything. How do you feel about playing an elf in LOTR?
Many people ask me if I felt intimidated, scared or anxious, but what I really feel is that I am ready, responsible and very determined.
Since I was little I was touched by racial and socioeconomic prejudice, I grew up in a very poor family, without access to education or other basic things. When I was able to buy a television and a DVD player, I rented The Lord of the rings. All the elements impacted me, but especially the elven world, its relationship with nature, being from the mountains, I felt very close to them. Since then I wanted to be an elf.
They wanted to teach me a very big lesson “you cannot be an elf, there are no black elves, there are no Latin elves, elves are not like you”. It made people very funny, I went through a lot of humiliation for that dream. I convinced myself that there was no room for me in this story, but I secretly kept that flame burning a bit. I wanted to give people like me a voice.
He had an immense desire to experience life outside the barriers that were imposed on him like me. They told me that poor people, of black and indigenous descent, should not have access to something else, but I am a rebel. I knew we had the right to be seen, to be heard, and to have a voice. My goal as an artist was to find that voice.
That is why I was very determined to create a character that represents that sensitivity, that beauty, that connection with the ancestral.
Your character was created specifically for this series, tell us more about him
Arondir was created for this series, he is a wood elf who is tasked with watching over the residents of the southern lands, people whose ancestors sided with evil in past wars. So the elves colonize this area and watch over them for hundreds of years to prevent them from realigning themselves with evil.
He is different from other elves and falls in love with a human, one of the residents of the southern lands. He is a very sensitive character, of few words, more than actions and looks. He is very observant and has a great curiosity about nature and life, but at the same time he is fierce in protecting it.
He is the first color elf in the LOTR franchise, which makes him stand out and more universal in many ways. He is a pride for me.
Were you already a fan of Tolkien’s work or what interested you about this project?
I was already a fan, but I came here because of the Peter Jackson movies. I did not grow up in a community of readers, and I have a reading disability, I have always learned in an audiovisual way.
In addition to being part of Tolkien’s magical world, I wanted the opportunity to create an original character that was a black and Latin elf and is also a very beautiful character, who fights and whose goal is love, curiosity and the protection of the other. It’s something I wanted to explore and felt aligned with my life experience.
How was the experience of being part of such a complex production? I know you’ve already worked on Star Wars, but this is a bigger role.
The experience is almost indescribable. Not only because of the budget, but because we were in New Zealand for almost two years working on this, during the pandemic. That made it more special and more difficult, being so far from my family, in an unknown land, but which became my second home.
I connected a lot with the indigenous community of New Zealand, the Maori. They have elvish qualities in many ways. His spirituality is tied to the conservation of the land.
Being on these sets was a great experience as an actor and as a person. Normally it’s done on green screen, but sets were made here, almost everything you see in the series was actually built, the costumes are in immense detail, each person was a high-caliber artist. These are things that help you deepen as an actor.
You also work in music and visual arts, do you see a difference in each medium or is it all part of your self-expression?
I think the arts are a cycle. There are things that cannot be spoken, they must be sung or written. There are things that cannot be explained and you have to paint them or dance them or do a mixture of everything.
Human beings are more complex than a single thing cannot contain everything we are, we must use everything as artists to attempt the impossible task of externalizing what we are, what we have in our hearts.
And in my character there is musicality, there is aesthetics, movement, interpretation, a texture that derives from more than one art.
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