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Sauron Actor Breaks Down the Big Reveal in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Finale

The actor says Season 2 will go deeper into Sauron and Adar's past

Kat Moon

[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the Season 1 finale of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, "Alloyed." Read at your own risk!] 

The identity of the Dark Lord has come to light. The Season 1 finale of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power revealed that Sauron has been in plain sight all season long — in the form of Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), the so-called "King of the Southlands." Halbrand first met Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) in the middle of the ocean, and since then the two have developed a close bond and traversed from sea to land, Numenor to Middle-earth. But it turns out that Galadriel's new ally is actually her nemesis. In The Rings of Power Episode 8, Galadriel attempts to fight Halbrand after discovering that he is Sauron. The Dark Lord easily overpowers her, and after Galadriel rejects his proposal to join him, he traps her in illusions and leaves her to drown in the water. 

Charlie Vickers spoke to TV Guide about when he discovered that his character is Sauron, how he prepared to play the Dark Lord, and how "it might be a surprise" to Halbrand when he learns that Galadriel is alive. The actor also addressed his character's relationship with Adar and, of course, being called "Hot Sauron."

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Amazon Prime Video

At what point did you learn that Halbrand is Sauron? 
Charlie Vickers: I learned when I was about to start filming the third episode. We filmed the first two episodes, we had a hiatus because of COVID. And then it was kind of two months before I started my bits for third episode, so I was really excited — the showrunner sat me down and told me. But I would be lying if I said I didn't already have a big inkling that I was going to be Sauron by that point. My last two audition speeches were a Richard III speech, and then a poem from Paradise Lost where I was literally reading it as Satan. So I had an inkling that there was some darkness within the character already.

After you learned, how did you approach your character differently when filming?
Vickers: It was interesting, because I was still wholeheartedly performing as Halbrand. It was more of the subconscious work that I did. The research that I was able to do — The Silmarillion, I read the really relevant parts to Sauron. Rather than making my way through it as a whole, I reread the parts that are really relevant to him. Tolkien talks a lot about his intention behind the character in his Letters. He also talks about him a lot in Morgoth's Ring. So I did all my reading and basically let that inform my performances on the day, because I still have to fully embody Hal, because I think Sauron is fully embodying Halbrand in order to convince people like Galadriel that he's just a regular dude from the Southlands.

During their confrontation, Halbrand makes a pitch to Galadriel that he will make her his queen. What was he trying to do here?
Vickers: I think he's trying to get her to join him. I think he's dropped his act as Halbrand, and Sauron has this intention to heal Middle-earth, and to rehabilitate and reorganize Middle-earth certainly during this period of his return to power. And I think he's making that pitch to her. He's saying, "This world, I can turn it into an independent paradise, somewhere that's even nicer than Valinor, nicer than heaven — as long as everyone listens to me." And in her, I think he sees a way into the Elves and a way into the trust of these people. He doesn't really like the Elves, between you and me. He hates them. But I think he sees a way into them with her, and if she joins him he could probably effect his designs faster. But then when she says no, I think it's not that much of a big deal to him. With or without her, he's going to try his utmost to achieve his objective by this point.

Morfydd Clark and Charlie Vickers, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Morfydd Clark and Charlie Vickers, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Can you share more about Halbrand's relationship with the Elves?
Vickers: I think he has a long and storied past with the Elves, all based off the First Age. You look at a story like when [Sauron] captures Finrod and he has a singing battle with Finrod — literally like a sing-off, and he puts him in a pit with Beren, although Beren's a human. The Elves are the main enemy to Morgoth and he in the First Age. I think those kinds of grudges never truly die, even if he is genuinely trying to be a better person.

When we spoke before the season started, it was in our interview that Morfydd told you the meaning of "shipping." And of course, a lot of viewers have been shipping Halbrand and Galadriel. How would you describe their relationship from the start of the season to now?
Vickers: Yes, I remember very well. I like to think of it as a cosmic connection, in that he has spent a lot of time by himself — a long, long time. And I think when he meets her, he's finally meeting someone that's on his level closer to him, who has been around for a very long time. They've had this real connection, and he sees in her an opportunity. While I don't think it's romantic, I think it's really interesting and cool that a lot of people read into it like that, and that's the beauty of making things like this — there's no right answer. But I think it's more on the level of, we're two very experienced people who know a lot more than most other people we meet. And also, I think when it comes down to it at the very end of the season, he thinks he can use her to get what he wants, as sad as that is. It's like a bit of a toxic relationship.

Why did he let Galadriel live, knowing that she could expose his identity?
Vickers: I think he sends her into the water to drown her. I'm not necessarily thinking that he thinks she's going to live, although he probably has a strong idea. I mean, Elrond saves her in the end because she's drowning. It might be a surprise to him in the future that she does live. But I also don't think he minds because he probably knows that deep down, there will be some people that she may not tell because of her humiliation at bringing this evil back. It's whether or not she can face that, and she can face that being public knowledge. And I also think that there is something within him of, he now has a foe, which for him is really exciting. Or maybe he also thinks that she can join him further down the line, that if he has another crack at it he will be successful at it this time.

Charlie Vickers, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Charlie Vickers, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Amazon Prime Video

I'm also curious about the confrontation between Halbrand and Adar from earlier in the season, when Halbrand asks if Adar remembers him. What can you say about the history there?
Vickers: They have a checkered past and a long history together. Adar was one of his most fearsome lieutenants and for whatever reason, which we will find out — I have to tread carefully because I don't want to spoil anything for the second season — but we will find out more about their past. But there's a lot in that interaction. And I think it's interesting when Halbrand says, "Do you remember me?" There's a huge part of him that wants Adar to feel some recognition. And I think perhaps he does, when Adar says, "Who are you?" as Halbrand exits the barn. It's just like, come on man, even though I don't look the same, surely you must feel something.

Finally, I have to ask — before the season started, there was a lot of speculation about "Hot Sauron" being revealed in the show. How does it feel knowing that fans are giving you that title after watching the finale?
Vickers: It's flattering. I feel very privileged to be able to play Sauron during this era because we have seen him on screen and in a lot of adaptations without physical form. And we all know in the lore, and this is something I'm really excited for for next season, is you see him manipulating, you see him doing things in this form of a beautiful man.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 1 is available to stream on Prime Video. Season 2 is in production, but it might be a while before it is released.