She has no special powers, no super-human fighting skills, nor a millenia-spanning life expectancy, but Nazanin Boniadi’s “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” character Bronwyn is an inspiring woman of great inner strength, who as we’ve seen over the season so far, will find a way to hold her own in any situation.
“I truly felt exhilarated playing Bronwyn,” Boniadi tells TheWrap over Zoom, during some down time from filming.
Indeed, since we first met healer and single mom Bronwyn in the “Rings of Power” series premiere – one of the humans living in a community under the watchful eye of the Elves – she’s been continually surprising. She’s raised a teenager, Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin), through tough and lean times who’s turning out to be a good if sometimes rebellious young man, and though initially cautious about publicizing it, she was willing to form a romantic attachment with the elf Arondir (Ismael Cruz- Córdova).
Outside of her personal relationships, she’s a woman who fought like a warrior to save her son and herself from the blood-thirsty Orc that emerged from under the floorboards. And she brought his head to the local tavern, slamming it down on the bar countertop as proof to convince the doubters that it was time to flee the village.
Most recently, though, she stepped up to help lead her people – despite her lack of royal pedigree, as she mentioned – giving a rousing speech to encourage them to stand up and fight against Adar and the orcs, who are determined to oppress them.
“There’s a couple of scenes that really resonate deeply with me – one of them was one of my audition scenes, which is a speech. And it’s because I can relate to this woman who wants to liberate her people. It connects so deeply with me on a personal level with my activism for my homeland, Iran,” Boniadi, who was born in Iran and grew up in England, told TheWrap (her comments were made about a week before Iranian women began protesting over the suspicious death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested on accusations of improperly wearing her hijab). “I remember channeling that as if I was talking to my compatriots – the Iranian people. I’m like, ‘Let’s do this,’ and it just felt very much connected to my core essence. And there’s nothing quite like bringing to screen something that strikes you deep down and resonates with you on such a deep, human level,” Boniadi said. “And then, of course, I love that she goes from being sort of this motivational figure in speaking to people to getting down and dirty and actually using the physical prowess to get done, whatever it takes.”
When Boniadi, best known for her roles in “Homeland,” “Scandal,” and Starz’s canceled-way-too-early series “Counterpoint,” found herself up for the role of Bronwyn in the Prime Video production, she was hungry for change.
“I was at a point in my career when I got this where I was looking for something I’d never done before – a challenge,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that I knew what I was going to do, and I tried to get as much information as I could. And the promise of Bronwyn was really exciting. I was very keen to play this character that they told me would do incredible things, and that she wasn’t one dimensional. … She was multifaceted, and she had agency and that she was a healer, yes, and she was also a single mother to a rebellious teenage son, and [had] a forbidden romance with an elf and all those things. But .. the thing that was a pleasant surprise to me [that] was hinted at from the beginning – was her inner strength, the unlikely leader, the person who is nurturing on the one hand, but bold on the other and that those things could coexist in a woman on screen, because we know that that exists in women in real life.”
Boniadi puts Bronwyn’s inner strength down to what comes from her character’s heart. “She’s hugely motivated by love – love for her son … love for Arondir, but also a deep sense of purpose in liberating her people from the shackles of their past,” the actress explained.
Across the two years it took to film her role in the series, Boniadi got close with her co-stars, spending downtime with Muhafidin and his mom (they had on-set sing offs, and even went to Hobbiton while in New Zealand on a day off). She also felt an immediate kinship with Cruz-Córdova, who plays Bronwyn’s elfin love interest Arondir, with the two actors quickly bonding over career parallels behind the scenes, while onscreen found a palpable chemistry.
“We’re really lucky we found each other. I think when you work opposite a really good actor you bring something out of each other, you know, you can make each other better. I know he did that for me, and hopefully I did that for him,” Boniadi said.
“And we have a deep connection because we have both worked in the industry for such a long time,” she continued. “And with that comes a certain amount of humility in the work because the number of times we’ve both been told, ‘This is going to be it for you; This is going to be the one’ – whether it’s awards, or accolades – and you have to shut all of that out and just say, ‘This is about the work, and in this moment, it can’t be about anything else,’” Boniadi explained. “And so the journey of getting to this point and both of us being people of color, both of us knowing what it means to be the underdog and winning these roles. And also, what this sort of biracial romance means even in the sense of the elfin/human of it all, you know? And then, that we get to play these roles and have a deeper connection to what that means and the forbiddeness of that on many levels resonates with us. But also, what that means as far as bridge building and our off screen activism that we both do, and our family values, and it goes on and on. But I think all of that lends itself to being able to bond in the roles.”
So far the journey on “Rings of Power” has been well, a meaningful one for the actress, and a powerful one for her character. But following that fiery ending in Episode 6, hold on tight for Bronwyn and the rest of our “Rings of Power” heroes heading into the final episodes of the season and beyond
“I think we should steel ourselves for the rest of the journey,” she said noting these characters face the questions “how do we overcome and where will the next obstacle come from?”
New episodes of “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” drop Fridays on Prime Video.