Elves - a whole lotta white people?

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
Maybe it's inevitable, but the casting for Elves so far, even though it has been discussed as being possible otherwise, is pretty much 100% white folk.

I think if I was the producer, and had a professional casting agency at my beck and call, I'd probably make a sweeping pronouncement "OK, for this adaptation, the Teleri are going to all be actors of African descent - go find me some cast". Much less easy to do for us, for sure, because we don't have binders full of headshots and bios to flip through...
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
There's also character descriptions from the books, you know. And a lot of the Elves are practically described as caucasian.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
I know. And Tolkien had a whole lot of white people as good guys, and not-white people as bad guys. That's a good look in 2017 lol.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
i said right from the beginning thar i would like to see elves from other ethnicities... ar least for the avari.

i know tolkien describes most elves as fair but he also DID mention that some noldor had dark hued skin and maeglin was more swart than was generally common in his folk.he alsi described sime noldor as having a more ruddy skin.i know that these quotes do come from the lost tales... but if you actually WANT to cast actors with darker skintones you can justify it on that, the elves may be imagined far more heterogenous than we usually think.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
i already proposed quite a number of actors from other backgrounds than europe...nurwe, morwe, eol, maeglin and quite a number of noldor..
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
It was to the guy who wrote the original post; if he's going to complain, does he have any alternates?
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
I don't have any alternatives, because I don't have any... originals? What's the antecedent for alternative, the thing you have to have first before you get to the point of picking alternatives?

In the same manner that I'm not proposing original content in the Music, or Costumes sections (but would be willing to comment on or vote on the contributions of others), I'm also not proposing original content for Casting (but am willing to comment on or vote for the contributions of others) - I am woefully underinformed of the options. I've seen performances by maybe 20% of the people proposed so far, and have heard at all of maybe another 20%, but the majority I have no idea who they are.

I have an inkling for wanting Beyonce to be one of the Avari, but it is really hard to start making one or two members of a "race" of Elves be of a different ethnicity than the others - hence why if it was me in charge I'd have made it a universal pronouncement, and then get someone with a binder of headshots and bios to start finding people to fill the roles.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
My alternative would be "replace anyone in the nominations for any Teleri (Caliquendi, Avari, Sindar, Nandor, or otherwise)role with actors of African descent, of whom I have the same lack of experience as with all contemporary actors of any ethnicity and thus could not provide more than a name or two at best".
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
i wouldn't completely identify any of the elven tribes with a distinct real-world ethnicity.they descend from a few families of only 144 elves of elves who awoke at cuivienen so - rationalised - they would be quite a mixed bunch.

i'm fine with most of the eldar being cast as caucasian as it's mainly european mythology were dealing with.for example i've always imagined the noldor as similar in appearance to ancient spanish, italian or french noblemen.however that shouldn't completely rule out the possibility of elves with outer-european appearance... i'd like beyonce as an avar.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
It's not a simple thing - I think it's obvious that in every Tolkien story as-written every Man, Dwarf, Elf, or Hobbit character with a speaking role is of northern European ancestry in appearance (other than obvious lesser folk like that "pukelman" guy whose name I forget who guides the Rohirrim through the mountains on their way to Gondor). So it would be very easy to just run with that, and quite difficult to change it in a way that wasn't just change for the sake of change, or pandering, or patronizing. But I think even for this imaginary project, it's worth attempting to make that change.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
If you say change but not just for the sake of change i agree. I'd take it as simple as that: we just shouldn't restrain our selves too much by only concentrating on actors with a caucasian appearance.There should be more possibilities.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
I think it's stealthily become one of the most challenging aspects of this adaptation - the area where, unexpectedly, we amateurs will have the most difficulty.

I would initially have thought concept art or costumes or music would be the most challenging, but I genuinely think now that out of all the aspects of the project, the one where our attempts will be the most... off the mark, compared to what a professional could manage... will be casting.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
of course the casting process for this project -as i understand it- is the challenge to give the tolkien characters real faces.to be hinest most of his characters in the sul come off as a bit faceless.so far the casting has brought up quite a lot of characters who have remarkable faces, features and auras... and i like that.it's not that i'm completely unhappy with the cast characters so far... quite the opposite actually.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
Oh, yeah. Don't get me wrong. There's not a single individual role so far where I can point to the choice made (S1) or the options before us (S2) and say "this one is wrong". They all seem fine to me individually. It's more the big picture, in aggregate, that you see where the difficulty really lies. Having that simultaneous big picture and individual perspective is hard. Picking both the best actor for each role, as well as the best ensemble as a whole, at the same time.
 

Ray Burns

Active Member
My two cents worth: I think that when Tolkien wrote his works, he was not being racist, he was just reflecting his times, which were very much race based. I also think that if Tolkien were writing today, and if given the chance to revise (which we all know that he would most certainly do), he would find a way to address this in his works.

I think that if we artificially make one of the elven kindred be represented by a certain ethnicity, we then run the risk of offending other non-represented ethnicities (such as my own Native American or Hispanic/Latino, etc.). So, I think we should cheat a little bit. The Execs have said on any number of subjects that Elves are Elves, they're not human and we can't really judge Elves by the same criteria that we judge humans. They are a separate race and sometimes we forget that. What if the melanin content in Elvish skin was totally random? What if there were no one color skin for any Elf? What if skin color/ethnicity as we define it for human means nothing for the Elves even to the individual level. So, even within a family, there could be a vast representation of ethnicities because this is normal for elves. What if the defining way of distinguishing elvish 'race' is hair color, not skin color?

Open up casting so that anyone, of any ethnicity, can be considered for any Elvish role. Aside from the interesting socio-cultural statement we'd be saying regarding skin color, it would make the entire casting process much easier.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
The race of the elves was discussed early in the Season 2 podcasts.

Some of us did want to have some racial diversity among the different elvish groups, but that (unfortunately) flies in the face of the history of the elves.

The elves start out all together at Cuivienen. So, while some variation can be present there, it would not make sense to have distinct racial groups. Then, they split off in various directions (the Avari, the Nandor, the Sindar, the Teleri, the Noldor and the Vanyar). These decisions (to go or stay) can happen along family lines, but the idea that 'all the Asian elves broke off here' or 'all the African elves left there' would be...weird? Why would they be segregating by race? So, based on the story we are telling, racially more-or-less homogenous elves are required.

The occasional variation is fine. But we're not going to make all the Avari dark-skinned.

We will have racial diversity with the dwarves and with Men, and we already have a somewhat diverse cast for the Valar.
But the 'mostly white' casting suggestions for the elves are intentional, not accidental, and dictated by the story we are telling.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I think it's stealthily become one of the most challenging aspects of this adaptation - the area where, unexpectedly, we amateurs will have the most difficulty.

I would initially have thought concept art or costumes or music would be the most challenging, but I genuinely think now that out of all the aspects of the project, the one where our attempts will be the most... off the mark, compared to what a professional could manage... will be casting.
This is true.

Because while a professional artist has access to more time/resources/experience and (likely) skill to, say, design costumes or music...the difference between us and professional casting folks is that they have access to people we've never seen or heard. So while maybe a professional can 'do better', it's just a matter of degree in the other areas. Auditions consist of a lot of 'unknowns' - especially for a TV show. If this were ever to happen 'for real', *maybe* one of the people we've suggested would want to be involved. The actress I nominated for Nerdanel? It cost $1,000,000 USD to cast her in a film. She is also on the record as saying she's uncomfortable filming sex scenes (including kissing) now that she is married [2010], so she'd likely turn down a love interest role for that reason alone.

We are very divorced from reality in this forum ;) And that's okay. We are still learning who we want these characters to *be* - my description of Fingolfin's character is different now that we've talked about his role in the Season than it was earlier.

And when we do cast someone, it helps to give the costume people a body and face to drape outfits on, so they can see if it would work for a character with that 'look'. So, it's a nice start. :)
 
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amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
Oh yeah, like I said elsewhere above, I can't point at any single role and say we've made an error - these are all, even those vast swaths of actors I've never seen or heard of and only know from the headshots in the voting threads, interesting to look at and seemingly appropriate for their roles. It's only that stepping back/big picture view that is troubling to me in its... uniformity.
 
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