Miranda Otto, who plays the heroic Eowyn in “The Lord of the Rings” movies, takes a darker turn as a sinister cult leader in the brand new Hulu series “The Clearing.”
“I’m really fascinated by cults,” Otto, 55, told The Post.
“My auntie was actually within the [Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh] cult within the ’80s, after I was a very little kid. So, after they said this role was to play a cult leader, I assumed that will be an actual challenge.”
“The Clearing,” based on a novel by JP Pomare, is a fictional story that’s partly based on the real-life Australian cult The Family, which operated from the Sixties through the Eighties.
Within the show, the group is named The Kindred and is led by Adrienne (Otto), who considers herself to be “the mother” of a big group of kidnapped blond children.
Adrienne rarely gets her hands dirty and has adult minions, including Tamsin (Kate Mulvany), who abduct and discipline the youngsters on her behalf. She’s also helped by her friend, Dr. Bryce Latham (Guy Pearce).
In a present-day timeline, the series also follows Freya (Teresa Palmer), a young single mom who has a background with the cult — and becomes alarmed when news reports of abducted kids lead her to consider it might not be obsolete, as she thought.
Otto said that although her aunt was in a cult, she didn’t ask her about it.
“I didn’t really speak to her,” she said. “She’s older now and doesn’t remember much. But, I read the book called ‘Breaking The Spell’ by Jane Stork.”
She said she didn’t base her performance on any particular cult leader, corresponding to Charles Manson.
“I actually worked from my imagination and the scripts. [The show] messes together with your mind a bit,” she said. “I used to be really attempting to work out what [Adrienne’s] motivations were. At first I assumed it was power, but I didn’t find power really useful as a tool. It becomes about someone who’s unable to emotionally empathize …she’s capable of feel it through an odd communion with [her followers]. That’s the weirdness of my character.
“On one hand, as an actor, I do know what my job is. I’m the antagonist,” she said. “I don’t consider that as a personality [Adrienne] must be forgiven. I don’t wish to say ‘it’s not likely her fault.’ She is who she is. But I actually have to play it from inside her reality and the way she sees things.
“Adrienne thinks she has all of the answers and knows how people must be and her ideas on the world are correct. She thinks she’s coming from a great place.”
The veteran actress ( “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” “War of the Worlds,” “Homeland”) said it’s her role in Peter Jackson’s big-screeb “LOTR” trilogy that endures.
“People still come as much as me. The fans carry the torch and are so kind, so it’s all the time a pleasure,” she said.
“I haven’t watched [the Prime Video] show,” she said. “It’s funny, it was such a special experience to me, and I actually have this thing in life where you’ll be able to’t really ever return to something.
“So, for me to look at it’s like attempting to return back in time — and I can’t.”