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The following contains spoilers from the Rings of Power Season 1 finale. Proceed accordingly.
Finally, we know who Sauron is in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
The Dark Lord’s identity was revealed in Thursday’s Season 1 finale when Galadriel investigated the lineage of the true King of the Southlands. She uncovered a startling revelation in Eregion’s archives: The king’s line died a thousand years ago, and he had no heirs, meaning that Halbrand lied about who he was. When she confronted him about this, the mysterious Southlander confirmed that he was, indeed, the Sauron.
While the audience only learned of Sauron’s true identity in the finale, portrayer Charlie Vickers found out who he was really playing just before shooting Episode 3. “I filmed that scene on the raft in the first and the second episode not knowing, just thinking I was Halbrand,” Vickers tells TVLine.
For those who’ve been paying close attention to Halbrand, Episode 3 offered a big clue about his background. When he was heckled by a group of Númenóreans, he lost his cool and snapped a man’s arm, also demanding that they “call me Halbrand” in a sinister voice.
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“I think that’s a really interesting moment because for some people, you would think Sauron is one of the great villains, [so] why is he having a bar fight in an alleyway with some big dudes in Númenor? He wouldn’t be doing that,” the actor shares. “But I wholeheartedly think he would for two reasons: I think it shows how low he’s fallen, and Tolkien talks of how low he falls in this period, and then he reemerges very slowly. Also, you see an element of his weakness, that he’s a bad guy, and if you trigger him, he can explode and make mistakes.”
We saw that temper flare up again when he tried to manipulate Galadriel into joining him as his queen, and she firmly rejected him. His whole demeanor changed, and he began taunting her until they were outright screaming at each other.
“It’s outrageous. I mean, it’s the gaslighting,” Vickers says of Sauron’s confrontation with Galadriel. “He wants her to help him to affect his designs faster [because] she’s an ear to the elves. They operate on this frequency, and he’s trying to persuade her.” Both he and costar Morfydd Clark found that moment to be “a bit triggering” because they were right back where they started on the raft, which was extremely difficult to film on. However, it was also “cool to take it full circle.”
The visceral scene also marked the end of Galadriel and Halbrand’s friendship, which had been building throughout the season. And while Vickers concedes that there were “definite vibes” between the pair, he didn’t think they were particularly romantic.
“I’ve heard people have been ‘shipping,” he says, “and I’m down for that. I don’t think there were romantic vibes, but it’s awesome people think that. I think they more vibe on this level of, ‘We’re both operating on some kind of different frequency to everyone else.’ For Sauron/Halbrand, it’s been a long time since I’ve met someone that can operate near to the level that I’m at, and that is really thrilling. I think that’s where the chemistry comes from.”
Season 1 ended with Sauron staring at Mount Doom in the horizon, signaling that the Dark Lord has arrived in Mordor. With production and filming on Season 2 already underway, Vickers knows exactly where his character is going next season.
“I think the most exciting thing is that the world is established in Season 1. We’ve seen the three rings,” he notes. “The three elven rings get made, and he has a part in it, although he doesn’t make them directly. We know from the lore that there’s a lot of cool stuff that gets to happen soon.”
That includes the creation of the seven rings for the dwarves, and nine rings for mortal men. Oh, and then there’s the master ring, aka the One Ring to Rule Them All. “The One Ring is down the track,” Vickers adds. “He’s got to make those rings at some point, and we’re doing it in the show. I can’t confirm or deny any details around that, but I’m so excited for when we get to that point in the story.”
As for the Halbrand of it all, Vickers doesn’t think Sauron has left that part of his journey completely behind.
“I think it’s been really cool to play him in this period of repentance. Whether it’s genuine or not is really interesting and something that is a big theme in what Tolkien writes about the character in this time,” Vickers says. “He always thinks he’s doing good, so there is that complexity to him as a character, that he’s trying to heal and rehabilitate Middle-earth.”
Plus, the Dark Lord takes different forms during the Second Age, adding to his allure. “I think there will always be that element for the audience of, like, ‘Sure, he’s definitely evil and should be thought of as terrible,’” Vickers concludes. “But, hopefully, when we see things from his point of view, we see that [he has] fair motives — at least in the beginning. I like for me that there will always be a flicker of Halbrand within me, because I’ve been through this this season.”
How are you feeling about Halbrand being Sauron in The Rings of Power? Were you shocked, or did you know all along?
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