As the curtain goes up on the most expensive television series ever made, the journey does not begin as you might think in a tiny hobbit hole in a quiet corner of the fabled realm of J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic Middle-earth. Rather, it begins in the small mountain town of Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, in the early 1990s.

It was there that a little boy named Ismael Cruz Cordova dreamed of being an elf. “I grew up quite poor and I didn’t have a lot of things, we didn’t have a TV, we didn’t travel, we didn’t go to the city,” Cordova says. “I was also quite bullied when I was growing up for being different. My escape, my life, my everything, was nature.”

And his obsession with elves, the immortable noble species brought to vivid life in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings? “Elves don’t destroy nature, they build around it, they build with the shapes of nature and they understand themselves to be part of nature,” Cordova says. “That was something that really spoke to me.”

Fast-forward three decades and that childhood dream, mocked by the little boy’s peers and dismissed by his elders, has brought him into the centre of the frame of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, a new excursion into the ancient history of Tolkien’s sacred lore. For Cordova, who plays the elf Arondir, it is the fulfilment of that boy’s dream. ... ever-20220817-p5bai9.html