‘LOTR: The Rings of Power’ Finale: Sauron Actor on Galadriel & ‘Wreaking Havoc’ in Season 2
[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power finale, “Alloyed.”]
We finally know who Sauron is after The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power finale. Season 1 Episode 8, “Alloyed,” introduced one of literature’s most famous villains, and thanks to the series’ Second Age setting, fans get to see the Dark Lord outside of flashback or as an all-seeing eye for the very first time.
The Rings of Power finale confirmed the popular theory that Charlie Vickers‘ Halbrand was Sauron. (We predicted this after Episode 5, though our hunch began in Episode 3.) It also unveiled The Stranger’s identity and featured the creation of the Elves’ three rings of power, making for a thrilling end to the debut season.
Here, we chat with Sauron himself as he looks back on Season 1 and ahead to Season 2 (now in production), which Vickers says will show Sauron “wreaking havoc” on Middle-earth.
How good does it feel to be able to say “I am Sauron” now?
Charlie Vickers: It’s very exciting for me. Look, it’s a real amazing thing to just be involved in a show like this, but to be given the chance to play a villain like this and jump headfirst into this world, this character, which is one of the greatest villains in literature, it’s been a pretty amazing experience. I’m most looking forward to the season we’re currently filming, where Sauron is just wreaking havoc. He’s just being Sauron, you know? It’s a new phase for him.
In that brief Sauron cameo in Episode 1, where you see him in the armor and everything, was that you in the suit?
I wish that was me! I didn’t even know that was in the show. It wasn’t until I was at the first screening, actually — I think it was somewhere in Los Angeles — and it came up on the screen that I knew. I was like, “Oh my God! That’s… that’s…” I wish that was me in the armor, but it’s not me, unfortunately.
So you didn’t get to wear the armor at all?
No, I didn’t. The only armor I got to wear was the one that was made for Halbrand, which was pretty amazing armor.
In hindsight, we now know that other than his name, Halbrand doesn’t really lie about anything all season long. He even believes he is the king of the Southlands, because he thinks he’s the king of everything. Is that how you were playing him?
Yeah. I made a decision as to how I was going to best portray him, in terms of we’re seeing Sauron in this period of rebuilding. He’s repentant. And it’s like, is his repentance genuine or is it not? In my mind, I was like, “I’m gonna play this wholeheartedly as Halbrand,” but it’s all in the writing, you know, in terms of lines where he never really lies to [Galadriel, played by Morfydd Clark].
I think it’s great the audience can interpret it either way. They can interpret it as Hal’s being completely genuine. Sauron wants to be a good guy and just leave everything behind. There’s basis for that in Tolkien’s lore. There’s also basis for the other way, which was any kind of repentance that he was showing was all a bit of an act, a bit [disingenuous] so he could end up getting what he wants. He’s on the journey towards that now, isn’t he?
I see it as a little convoluted, because it’s like what he wants he truly believes will heal Middle-earth, so he’s like, “I have to be the ruler of everything, because I have to heal everything.” Oh, that’s convenient, dude.
[Laughs] I see what you mean, yeah.
I wonder if his meeting Galadriel was completely by chance. We may learn about that next season. Either way, things can’t have gone exactly how he expected, so how was he changed by his time with Galadriel this season?
I think there is a strong element of chance, but I don’t wanna say either way. I think, at this stage, because we could learn more about it next season, it could be by chance or it could be by design. I think both work, because chance is such a massive thing in Tolkien’s world. I mean, look what happens in the Prancing Pony in Fellowship of the Ring — people coincidentally meeting and coming across each other can change the course of Arda forever. It’s a real Tolkien theme in the same way that Sauron is also a pretty plotting, scheming kind of guy, so it could well have also been a plan of his.
There are certainly things that catch him by surprise [in Season 1]. It makes sense, because at this stage, he isn’t this unbelievable villain that is really powerful. He is reforming his power, like Tolkien says. He’s been lingering in Middle-earth and very slowly starts to like fall back into the darkness. We see that this season. We see Galadriel change him, in the sense that she shows him that he will not have peace in Númenor, that his peace lies only with the gods, with the rulers, fighting great wars. She pulls him back. And whether or not he’s pushing her buttons to get her to take him back to places where he can make things happen, or if it’s genuine and he’s saying, “I just wanna chill,” she changes him, and in the end, she shows him another way of ruling. That’s why he says, “You bind me to light, and I bind you to power.”
He comes to that realization, and so he makes this pitch to her. He’s like, “Well, screw it. Let’s do this together,” but that’s with a big caveat. I think he’s gonna end up being the one in control. When he makes that pitch to her, it’s like, “We’re not gonna do this as equal king and queen. You’re gonna help me, and I’m gonna be in charge here.”
I would never assume otherwise. Sauron’s not the kind of guy to accept anything but top billing.
There’s a hint of a romantic connection between Galadriel and Halbrand in Episode 6. Was he pretending to have that interest, because perhaps he thought that was a way to sway a woman? Or was that romantic vibe more of a fan interpretation to you?
I think it’s interesting, because even from her perspective — I think it’s awesome that people have been shipping them, which is a word Morfydd just taught me in New York, actually — I don’t see it that way.
I also think that from her perspective, I think he would realize she wouldn’t fall for him romantically, because Elves mate for life. She thinks her husband is dead, or she doesn’t realize that he’s not, but she thinks he is. But of course, we all know he is not.
Because they mate for life, I think he’s too smart to think he can seduce her, but I do think they have this cosmic connection. They operate up here, and everyone else operates down here. And I think both of them are like, it’s not often you meet someone who operates with you on that level. So particularly from him, he’s been alone for a thousand years, and now just meeting her, it’s like, “Wow, this is a real thrill for me to be able to work with this person, and also she can help me.”
“One does not simply walk into Mordor” is one of the most famous — and meme’d — Lord of the Rings lines. I love that the season ends with you literally doing that. It’s like, one does not simply walk into Mordor, but Sauron definitely can.
[Laughs] Just walks down the hill.
He’s like, “Oh, just going to my house. It’s a volcano.” We’re clearly going to have some upcoming conflict with him and Adar [Joseph Mawle], who Halbrand says is his enemy in the finale, now that they’re both in Mordor. I know the answer is probably not much at all, and maybe you don’t even know anything yet, but what can you share about Halbrand’s dynamic with Adar and what we could see moving forward?
They have a long and checkered history. In that scene in Episode 6, Joseph and I worked a lot on creating that. Adar and Sauron, we’re gonna see — and pretty quickly — their past, and gonna learn more about [it]. I can’t tease exactly what it is. All I can say to people is that it’s really cool, and it’s gonna be a really exciting thing we get to explore next season.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Season 1, Streaming Now, Prime Video