If you’ve seen Paddy Considine‘s Tyrannosaur or Ken Loach‘s My Name Is Joe, you know that Peter Mullan is the real deal in producing raw emotion in front of your eyes. Mullan knows how to act with his eyes and hook you through his magnetic presence. The best example of this is in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 as Death Eater Corban Yaxley. Mullan is barely in the movie but makes the most of this screentime through his highly menacing glare, chasing down Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) in one of the film’s most exciting sequences.
Having all that experience under his belt, I wanted to ask him what drew him into The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, specifically for the role of King Durin III. I’ll let you discover what he said on your own during the video conversation held for the show’s virtual press day. His answer may (or may not) surprise you. However, what I found amazingly fascinating about chatting with Mullan was how he discussed his acting process opposite Owain Arthur and Sophia Nomvete, who plays Prince Durin IV and Princess Disa, especially when he does not have a complete script.
However, as he explains, “‘In the arthouse world, we’re used to things being thrown out at us, improvising, not being in the moment and having that larger context. Luckily for the Gods of Amazon, it didn’t bother me. Many actors may not be too happy, and rightly so. They would probably kick up a big fuss to get the complete script. But that was of no interest to me. All I cared about was when I was acting with Owain and Sophia. Once we started acting together, it was all that mattered.”
In terms of building a complex father/son relationship with Arthur, Mullan explained that “Owain was the highlight for me. I never saw him before and did not know him before this. But when I got to New Zealand, I was in quarantine for two weeks, as we all were. I got lovely messages from him, saying, “Let’s meet up. Anything I can do for you,” and all that stuff. When I exited quarantine and met him, he was such a sweet and lovely guy.”
During our video conversation, Mullan also talked about the process of trust between actors, especially when performing a scene where King Durin III strips his son of his royal duties, stating that “when you do a scene like that, between father and son, especially when one is being unkind or dominant of another, if you trust one another, and completely, then it plays so easily. It’s especially helpful if it’s nicely written, which it was, and that’s bread and butter for any actor.”
You can watch our full interview below and see all episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Prime Video:
[Some of the quotes in this article have been edited for length and clarity]