If you haven’t heard the name Ismael Cruz Córdova, that will likely change very soon. Córdova will be featured in the TV series The Rings of Power, the new chapter in The Lord of the Rings franchise.
In the series, he plays a silvan elf named Arondir. This means, Córdova, who was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, is the first person of color to be cast as an elf in a J.R.R. Tolkien film or TV project.
“I didn’t see myself represented,” Córdova said about growing up as a fan of fantasy stories. “And when I said, ‘I want to be an elf,’ people said, ‘Elves don’t look like you.’”
In 2006, Córdova moved to New York City where he studied at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts. Before he landed the role of a lifetime in The Rings of Power, he broke into Hollywood in 2011 with a recurring role in the CBS drama series The Good Wife starring Julianna Margulies.
His next big gig came on the children’s TV series Sesame Street where he played a character named Mando for seven episodes from 2013 to 2015.
The following year, Córdova landed a recurring role on the Showtime series Ray Donovan as Hector Campos, a professional boxer who reveals he is having a relationship with his half-sister (Lisa Bonet).
Córdova was also cast in the Epix series Berlin Station, the HBO series The Undoing, and in one episode of The Mandalorian, where he was covered in makeup to play Qin, a Twi’lek mercenary who is imprisoned by the New Republic.
Along with several TV series, Córdova starred in a few movies, too, including the 2016 drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Oscar-winning director Ang Lee; the 2018 biopic Mary Queen of Scots starring Oscar nominees Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie; and the 2019 remake of Miss Bala starring Gina Rodriguez.
Later this year, Ismael Cruz Córdova will be seen in an episode of Guillermo del Toro’s Netflix anthology series Cabinet of Curiosities.
The Rings of Power premieres on Prime Video on September 2, 2022.