Walker had already screened the show’s first three episodes ahead of the premiere, and promises that fans won’t be disappointed with the series. Amazon has banked on the same; a second season is already underway.

“It’s genuinely incredible,” he says. “My first impression was, man, I gotta get a bigger television. It’s epic,” he adds. “We spent so much time away from our families and away from our home and places of comfort that for it to turn out so well, it was really gratifying and I’m really proud of everybody [involved].”

The real test, however, will be what the fans think when the show comes out on Sept. 2. The fandom for author J.R.R. Tolkien’s work runs deep; Walker recounts a Tolkien expert luncheon during Comic-Con where the crowd’s knowledge of Tolkien’s fantasy world was unrivaled.

“People ask me a lot ‘does the pressure bother you?’ And I don’t mind the pressure; the pressure’s how you make a diamond,” he says of the lead-up to the show’s wide release. “There is a level of respect that Tolkien demands and that the fans demand. And that’s part of the frustration of them not having seen it yet. You want to say, trust me, we’ve done it justice. You’re gonna be happy.”

Before getting red carpet ready, Walker planned to ground himself in the real world.

“I’m going to read the newspaper. I like to have perspective. It’s very easy to get nervous,” he says. “So I like to remind myself of what’s going on in the world and how we fit into it at large. It calms me and centers me, and then I can talk to people and feel informed, and have context for what we’re doing.”

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