The Stunning Transformation Of Morfydd Clark

There are very few, if any, more recognizable faces in the world of television right now than that of Morfydd Clark. Clark plays the leading character in Amazon Studios' enormously expensive production "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," adapted from J.R.R. Tolkein's work of the same name and its appendices. She plays the royal Elf, Galadriel, whose older self was portrayed by Cate Blanchett in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. 


It has been a rapid, meteoric rise for Clark — from her humble beginnings starring in a British Youth Music Theatre production of "According to Brian Haw" that explored the story of its famous titular anti-war protestor and war's impact on young people, to her appearance on posters around the world for a five-season epic of the biggest show on earth. Such a journey hasn't been without adversity and has required fierce determination on Clark's part, as she left her native Wales to move to London and then withdrew from a prestigious drama school in her final term to perform at the National Theatre Wales. Here is the stunning transformation of Morfydd Clark.

She was born in Sweden and then moved to Wales at 2 years old

Morfydd Clark was born in Sweden to a Scottish father and Welsh mother, as the former had found work in the country while Clark's mother was seven months pregnant. The family would later move to Penarth, Wales when Clark was 2 years old, per the Independent. Clark has previously said they return to Sweden every few years to visit friends, and has humorously remarked that the only Swedish she can speak is the phrase: "There is no toilet paper." Morfydd is, however, fluent in English and Welsh.


At 7 years old, Clark was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, a behavioral condition that causes sufferers to struggle with concentration or act impulsively. In addition, Clark was diagnosed with dyslexia, a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing, and spelling.

Morfydd Clark got her first experience of acting at school

Despite having to deal with ADHD and dyslexia during her childhood, Morfydd Clark began acting at 13 when she starred in a school production of Dylan Thomas' "Under Milk Wood." As she described to The Guardian, she played the "hilariously sexualised" role of Mrs Dai Bread Two.


Clark has commented that attending a Welsh language school nurtured an enthusiasm and confidence to perform ”because performance was very normalized," as she told Backstage. "We have the Eisteddfod every St. David's Day, where people sing and perform, and a national one that's a big deal."

Although this encouraged a competitive drive in pupils, Clark said, "It was so much more about being part of it. And having that access to music and performance has meant I've loved watching something as much as being in it." Having this mature outlook at such a young age has likely benefited Clark's career and instilled her lifelong passion for performing.

She left school at 16 after struggling with dyslexia and ADHD

Although Morfydd Clark enjoyed acting and singing during school, she was prone to misbehavior, such as raising her voice during lesson time or wandering out of the classroom. She spoke honestly to The Guardian as she recounted her school days: "I very much didn't enjoy school and was depressed and miserable as a teenager." Clark's ADHD contributed to her eventually leaving school at 16.


As she explained to the Independent, "I think it's an issue because of the way that school is, and if we moved away from the Victorian idea of education, there would be less." While formal education was a struggle for Clark, youth theaters provided an environment where she could confidently express herself, which encouraged her to return to education at Kings Monkton in Cardiff, per The Guardian. Clark felt more at home at this school. "It was a very kind school with lots of people with ADHD and autism," she said. "They didn't care what grades I got." Despite the challenges she faced at a young age, Clark earned good grades in English and math.

The actress was accepted into the National Youth Theatre of Wales before training at the Drama Centre in London

Although Morfydd Clark earned academic qualifications, she decided to work on a farm and also as a teaching assistant. However, her mentor Tim Rhys-Evans of the Welsh National Youth Opera suggested she pursue an acting career. As she explained to The Guardian, Rhys-Evans said to her, ”You're very good at this. You should go to drama school. Don't bother about a safety net, because if you have one, you'll only fall in it." Clark heeded this advice and applied to the prestigious London drama school Drama Centre, and she was accepted to their three-year acting course.


Moving to London was a big transition for Clark, as she experienced homesickness and living with a cousin who she described to the Independent as "really tidy and that is really difficult for me." Although Clark acknowledges that drama school is widely considered an essential prerequisite to becoming a famous actor, she has remarked to GQ that these institutions can be fertile grounds for cults. "There is a cult-like aspect to it, and I didn't enjoy that," she said. "And I think that's also why I didn't enjoy school."

She left the Drama Centre to star in Saunders Lewis' play Blodeuwedd

Surprisingly, Morfydd Clark never graduated from drama school. Per The Guardian, she withdrew from her course in her final term in 2013 when she landed an open-air production role in Saunders Lewis' play ”Blodeuwedd" at Theatre Genedlaethol Cymru. Based on an old Welsh folk tale, this play explores nature as a dangerous weapon in the hands of mankind. The open-air production proved challenging, as Clark was often irritated by gnats and wasps during performances.


Clark has often spoken about her pride in her Welsh heritage, and this has been hugely influential in her learning Elvish for her role in the "The Rings of Power." As she shared with The Prospector, "What my Tolkein-obsessed mother was really proud of and passed on to us was that Tolkein was inspired by the Welsh." As a bilingual speaker, Clark recognizes that this quality perfectly matches what was needed for the character of Galadriel. "Playing a bilingual character was great," she said. "Yes, I think it served me well."

Morfydd Clark played Cordelia in a production of Shakespeare's King Lear

In 2016, Morfydd Clark played Cordelia in a Deborah Warner production of "King Lear" opposite two-time Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson, who played the titular character. Clark recalled to the Independent how she was awestruck by working with an actor of this caliber. "Watching her on and off-stage has been a masterclass, really, in terms of how she carries herself," Clark said.


Clark explained that she found novels difficult to read and concentrate on as a child, but that she had voraciously read Shakespeare's works — such as "A Midsummer's Night's Dream, "Romeo and Juliet," and "As You Like It" — because ”the verse and short snippets worked in my mind."

The production was notable for having a female actor cast as the main, male protagonist, something Clark welcomed. In fact, she expressed a wish that the reverse will be more commonplace as well. Above all, she said for herself, "I strive to have parts for women that are just as powerful as men."

She starred in Interlude in Prague and The Man Who Invented Christmas

2017 marked another successful year for Morfydd Clark, as she starred in ”Interlude in Prague," a drama fictionalizing the story of how Mozart wrote his operatic masterpiece "Don Giovanni." Clark played a young soprano, Zuzanna Lubtak, who had a passionate love affair with Mozart, which triggered a series of unforeseen events. This was followed by a biographical drama of Charles Dickens called "The Man Who Invented Christmas," in which Clark played the wife of the famous English author, who in this film sets out to write his 1843 novella "A Christmas Carol."


In 2018, Clark left London and moved back into her parents' home in Penarth, Wales while working on three projects — the dark comedy "Eternal Beauty," another Dickensian-focused work called "The Personal History of David Copperfield" and HBO's adaptation of Philip Pullman's celebrated fantasy series "His Dark Materials."

Morfydd Clark starred in The Personal History of David Copperfield, His Dark Materials and Saint Maud

2019 would prove to be a breakout year for Morfydd Clark, as leading roles in "The Personal History of David Copperfield" and "Saint Maud" earned her awards at the Dublin Film Critics Circle and London Film Critics Circle Film Awards ceremonies (via IMDb). The director of "Copperfield," searing Scottish satirist Armando Iannucci, lauded Clark's performance, especially as she played two characters — Copperfield's fiance, Dora Spenlow, as well as the titular character Mother. As Iannucci told The Guardian, "Both roles blend so many moods — comedy, fear, naivety, wisdom, sadness — that it's quite a balancing act to get right. Which Morfydd did perfectly." 


In the psychological horror film Saint Maud, Clark plays hospice nurse Maud, who converts to Catholicism and begins a moral crusade to redeem the soul of a patient in her care. The film's release was sadly delayed by the closure of cinemas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clark was fiercely determined to land the role after three auditions, the last of which left her convulsing and vomiting. As she told The Guardian, "I knew that I really wanted this part because I've been obsessed with the health service for years and I felt I could do it well."

The actress has been nominated for the BAFTA Rising Star Award

Morfydd Clark's portrayal of the devout Roman Catholic nurse Saint Maud earned her a best actress nomination at the 2021 British Independent Film Awards, and this was later followed by the coveted BAFTA Rising Star award nomination. This was a remarkable achievement for someone who only seriously considered acting as a professional vocation at 19. Interestingly, her three most recent roles in "The History of David Copperfield," "Eternal Beauty," and "Saint Maud" are arguably all characters with alienating psychological conditions. 


In speaking to The Guardian, Clark recognized this recurring theme and also considered her personality may be atypical. "I'm a neurodivergent person, so I was a nightmare," she said, adding that "I've always been very scared of alienating myself from people, and I think it can happen very easily." But despite this, she appreciates that acting has given her a platform to express herself. As she put it, "all my ADHD tendencies in the acting world are seen as charming and interesting."

She was confirmed to play Galadriel in early 2020

In late 2019, Morfydd Clark was announced as a lead role in Amazon Studios's "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power." This series would be set during the Second Age of Tolkien's fantasy world when the rings of power were forged, thousands of years before the events of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Amazon bought the television rights for "The Lord of the Rings" in November 2017 for $250 million and committed to producing five seasons, per Deadline.


Although Clark was cast as Galadriel, a royal elf and fearless warrior, she recently spoke to Vogue and said, "I always thought of myself as more of a hobbit, so I'm pleasantly surprised to be cast as an elf." Clark also told GQ that she is an avid fan of Peter Jackon's original trilogy. "The films have been a big part of my life for years," she said. "They're so embedded."

Morfydd Clark prepared for her biggest role with intense training and research

To prepare for the biggest role of her career to date, Morfydd Clark arrived in New Zealand in October 2019, where she and the other cast members participated in a boot camp ahead of filming organized by showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay. As she told Vogue, this involved starting every day "with three hours of stunts" with the stunt team that had worked on director Peter Jackson's films. She also "did lots of swimming practice" with a New Zealander Olympian. Added to this, Clark had to practice horseback riding and hand-to-hand combat, as Galadriel's journey takes her to perilous locations throughout Middle Earth.


To familiarize herself with Tolkein's deeply layered and intricate universe, Clark listened to audiobook recordings of "The Silmarillion," a five-part collection of stories published posthumously. Clark spoke to Vogue about how studying this text helped her. "It's about the world as much as the characters — the characters don't make sense unless you understand the world they live in."

She is immensely proud of her Welsh heritage

Morfydd Clark has often spoken over the years about how immensely proud she is of her Welsh heritage. She recently spoke to Looper about how this has been influential in her portrayal of Galadriel in "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power." "I feel I can be much more romantic and deep in Welsh," she reflected. "So that was really useful for me because I was thinking, '[What's the] language of her heart? What language does she think in?'"


Tolkien was inspired by Finnish and Welsh when he invented the Elvish languages of Sindarin and Quenya. Clark recently told S4C's Heno that performing in Blodeuwedd with the Theater Genedlaethol back in 2013 was an important stepping stone in her journey to playing a part in "Lord of the Rings." "That's the kind of world and magic, so I'm reading a lot of the Mabinogi at the moment to kind of inspire me," she said (via Nation Cymru). In addition to this, having two other Welsh cast members, Owain Arthur and Trystan Gravelle, helped Clark cope with homesickness while away filming in New Zealand.

Morfydd Clark has strongly rejected criticism regarding the diverse cast in The Rings of Power

"The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power" has unfortunately been subject to harsh criticism from viewers who have "review-bombed" the show on Amazon, prompting the platform to delay reviews from being posted in order to eliminate those that were submitted in bad faith (via The Guardian). One of the primary points of criticism bordering on discrimination leveled against the show has been its casting of multi-racial actors, such as Lenny Henry as Harfoot elder Sadoc Burrows, Ismael Cruz Cordova playing the silvan elf Arondir, and Sophia Nomvete as female dwarf Disa. This backlash has been swiftly rebuffed by Head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke, who said, "We're really proud of the cast that we have in the show. We welcome discussion and even criticism around the series; however, we will not condone racism of any kind."


Clark echoed similar sentiments to AnOther Mag as she said, "I'm just happy that 10-year-olds will be seeing something that reflects our world." This was followed up with her and other cast members posting a message of solidarity on their social media platforms in support of those subjected to discriminatory abuse with the hashtagged message #youareallwelcome.

The actress would love to play this role on screen one day

Morfydd Clark's career has taken off with her role in "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," and it's safe to say that she'll probably be playing this iconic role for years to come. However, as a young actress, there's still a lot Clark hopes to do in her career. "My dream role to play — I'm lucky enough to have already played it on stage — which is Blodeuwedd, which is a story from the Mabinogi, the Welsh legends and folktales, about this woman who was created for a man who couldn't marry a woman from the realm of men ... I did that with Theater Genedlaethol and I would love to play that in a different setting," she told Harper's Bazaar


So who knows — maybe Clark's next move as an actress will be to bring some famous Welsh characters to life on screen. One thing's for sure — we haven't seen the last of her yet.