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War of the Rohirrim’s Heroine Will Take After Miyazaki as Much as Tolkien

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Lord of the Rings is never far from the pop-culture front row, especially with Prime Video’s The Rings of Power ramping up to its second season, Andy Serkis’ Gollum movie in the works, Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning trilogy making a return to theaters, and the release of an especially intimidating new Lego set. But there’s yet another big Tolkien-inspired project on the way, with new details being revealed today.

The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim is, of course, the anime feature film that we’ve been hearing about for a few years now; it’s a prequel exploring the tale of Helm Hammerhand—the ancient king of Rohan, and the guy Helm’s Deep is named after. He’s voiced by Brian Cox in the film.

Entertainment Weekly chatted with director Kenji Kamiyama (Blade Runner: Black Lotus) and actor Gaia Wise, who voices Helm’s daughter Héra, as well as producer Philippa Boyens, who co-wrote Jackson’s Rings films and found the idea to make War of the Rohirrim anime came early in the process. “I immediately felt that it would work for anime because it’s so character-based and also contained within its own world,” Boyens told EW. “It speaks to certain things that work really well with Japanese storytelling.”

It makes sense, then, that the story’s heroine would draw from Japanese storytelling as well as Tolkien’s work; Wise said that her character “bears a stronger resemblance to the heroines of Hayao Miyazaki films like Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind than to classic Lord of the Rings heroines like Arwen and Eowyn” and described her as “fierce, complex, and rebellious.”

Héra’s story will drive The War of the Rohirrim, though she’s unnamed in the Lord of the Rings appendices that inspired the plot. “We know Helm has a daughter, and we know that she was central to the conflict that happened. But myself, and especially screenwriter Phoebe Gittins, were drawn to her,” Boyens said. “We could feel the weight of being that unnamed daughter, which immediately piqued our interest: Who was she? How did she live?”

Head to Entertainment Weekly for more, including a peek at The War of the Rohirrim’s antagonist, Wulf, voiced by Luke Pasqualino. The movie opens December 13.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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