You probably already know that harfootswandering the land are creatures that resemble hobbits if you’ve been watching the Prime Video series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” As this series takes place in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies, the harfoots are the forerunners of the hobbits (which are set in the Third Age).
The Harfoots are nomads, in contrast to the Shire-dwelling hobbits who rarely leave their own country. They still resemble hobbits in terms of their little stature, curly hair, and outgoing personality, but they’ve changed somewhat. In “The Rings of Power,” the prosthetic feet are a little more sophisticated, but they still have the enormous, hairy feet that the hobbits had in the movies.
The head of prosthetics for “The Rings of Power,” Jamie Wilson, was recently interviewed by Vanessa Armstrong of /Film. Wilson has a lengthy history with Middle-earth, having worked for Weta Workshop on Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and as the production manager for “The Hobbit” trilogy’s armour and weapons. Although harfoot and hobbit feet are basically similar, he explained that there is a new and improved recipe for “The Rings of Power” because to advancements in hairy foot technology over the past 20 years.
Oversized hairy feet’
Even while the “Rings of Power” prosthetics team continues to produce “oversized hairy feet,” there is a significant difference in the motion and technology used to make them. Wilson has a specialty in making hobbit feet; “I started making hobbit feet in 1999, and I’m still doing it.”
Martin Freeman estimates that he went through three or four pairs of feet each day when filming the “Hobbit” movies, and Wilson and the rest of the Weta team built 1,800 pairs of hobbit feet for the four major hobbit actors in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Thousands of pairs of feet and two decades later, “the technology has improved.” The most recent versions of the hairy feet that appear in “The Rings of Power” are both more realistic-looking and more comfortable for the actors to perform in:
“We did that by thickening of the soles and different ways, and we made the toes moveable when they were wearing them to get more animation out of the feet and have it look less like a giant clown shoe that they’re wearing. But the actual look is pretty much the same they’re big, hairy feet with mud on them.”
The idea of making them more realistic and less “like a gigantic clown shoe” does appear to make the life of the harfoot actors wearing them much simpler, even though neither of them seem particularly comfy.
New episodes of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” are available every Friday on Prime Video.