Sophia Nomvete, who plays fan-favourite Disa the Dwarf princess in "The Rings of Power," has her breakout moment in the fourth episode of "Rings of Power," which was released 16 Sept. There's a tragic accident in the mines of Moria, and many of the miners are trapped underneath layers of rock. No one knows if they've survived.
And then Disa starts to sing. It's a gorgeous, stunning scene, her voice rising above and capturing the anguish, fears, worries, and hopes of the Dwarves. After, she tells Elrond (Robert Aramayo) that the song was a "plea to the rocks" to free the trapped miners. And it works — all of them are rescued alive.
Nomvete tells POPSUGAR that when she auditioned for the show and had to sing, she chose Bill Withers's "Ain't No Sunshine." She knew nothing then about the scene for which her vocals would be used, but she loves the coincidence now. "There was this kind of spiritual link that was happening and I didn't even know it," she reflects. It was much later in the audition process that she found out Disa's power is to resonate with the rocks through music, and that she would use that power to literally let in the light.
"There is something very epic about her as an individual."
Nomvete and episode director Wayne Yip worked for three weeks to figure out what Disa's song would sound like. "We just said, 'This could be something. This has to be something. This has to be a connection between somebody drawing on the power of their voice in order to literally move mountains. What do we do with this?'" she explains. They used those full three weeks to shape out the scene. "On the night before we shot, Wayne [was] on the phone to me with a keyboard going, 'You know here, Sophia, could you just go higher here?' . . . It was something that [we] felt so passionate about and felt so excited by, to empower the voice of this character, to reveal this about her."
The song itself was kept secret from most people before filming; Aramayo's reaction as Elrond was his true response to hearing it for the first time, too. "I was performing live on the day over and over and over again," she explains. Then series composer Bear McCreary came in and "landed his extraordinary magic and brilliance." They worked together to perfect the moment.
"Honestly, I felt like I blacked out on that day of shooting," Nomvete says. "I just thought, 'Just let it go. Whatever's been happening. Whatever's been happening in your life, in the day, in the moment, in the show, release.' And that's what that moment is."
Nomvete loves that viewers finally learn about Disa's "incredible, formidable force and magical power" in episode four, but she also cherishes all the other layers to the character, too. "She's a princess and she is royalty and she's also a wife and a mother," she explains. "And she also has her own independence and her own ambitions, all to support her husband and her kingdom and her family always, but there is a vastness to her essence. There is something very epic about her as an individual."
For Nomvete, one of the joys of the series is to pull back the curtain on the Dwarves's home, Moria, also known as Khazad-dum. In the "Lord of the Rings" movies, viewers only see the mountainous settlement after everyone there is dead and gone. But "The Rings of Power" is set centuries earlier. "Now it is thriving, it is a place of power and excitement and wealth and we get to see all the dynamics of the dwarves and how they function within this space," she says, pointing to the "collaboration" between men and mountain. "We welcome the Dwarven kingdom to life, I think, for the very first time. What a gift."
Nomvete says that she and Owain Arthur, who plays Disa's husband Durin, love to show the "abundance" of Dwarf culture. "They're a working-class culture," she says, and both actors come from similar backgrounds. "We know what it is to . . . really get our hands dirty and to get involved and to muck in and to graft and to have to protect."
She relishes showing the "extremes" of Dwarf emotions. "If they love, they are literally going to break your bones with a hug. If they are romantic, they are just completely passionate and involved with each other. And if they're frustrated or angry, you better believe that the rocks will smash," she says.
The couple's other major relationship is with Elrond, and seeing the clash of his Elven coolness with their Dwarfish personalities is one of the series's biggest delights. "We adore each other," Nomvete says of working with Arthur and Aramayo. "Us three have been together from the word 'go.' We are a team." When Elrond visits the couple for a dinner in an early episode, the trio share a hug, a moment that Nomvete says the actors came up with while running lines in a hotel room.
"The friendship that we see on screen is based on a real friendship," Nomvete says. "That is a real triangle of lots of love and lots of support and lots of respect." She jokes that she has given her fellow actors the "Disa death stare" from time to time, and that she's glad their joyful connection has resonated with fans.
New episodes of "Rings of Power" are released Fridays on Prime Video.