Full spoilers follow for The Rings of Power episode 8.
The actor portraying Sauron in The Rings of Power has revealed he didn’t learn of his character’s real identity until he filmed the show’s third episode.
Ever since the high fantasy, big-budget Prime Video series began airing on September 2, fans have been wondering when the Dark Lord would appear and, once he had, which actor would be playing Lord of the Rings’ primary villain. Now, with The Rings of Power episode 8 being released, we finally have the answer.
Major spoilers follow for The Rings of Power season 1 finale. Turn back now if you’ve not watched it yet.
Halbrand, who has been portrayed by Charlie Vickers since episode 2, was Sauron all along. As it turns out, the supposed heir to the Southlands throne has been deceiving viewers – and The Rings of Power’s characters, most notably Galadriel – for a long time.
Still, the time Halbrand has spent pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes is nothing compared to the two-and-a-half year secret Vickers, and the rest of the cast, have had to keep. In early October, Morfydd Clark (Galadriel) and Tyroe Muhafidin (Theo) exclusively told TechRadar that they knew who Sauron was. With Halbrand’s real identity now revealed, everyone involved in the show’s production can breathe a huge sigh of relief – particularly Vickers.
So, when did the Medici actor learn that he would actually be playing Lord of the Rings’ most iconic antagonist? Not for a while, actually. Vickers, who originally auditioned for the role of half-elf Elrond, was kept in the dark until filming on the Prime Video show was well underway.
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“I had an inkling for a while,” Vickers exclusively told TechRadar ahead of episode 8’s release. “I didn’t learn I was playing Sauron specifically for a while – I wasn’t sat down and told until maybe a couple of months before we started filming the third episode. So that scene in episode 2, when I’m introduced on the raft, I didn’t know.”
Clark, who spends much of her time acting across from Vickers’ Halbrand in season 1, was also unaware of which character was masquerading. That was until production began on episode 3, when Galadriel and Halbrand arrive in Númenor after they’re rescued from the Sundering Seas by Elendil and his crew.
“We didn’t know until we were in Númenor,” Clark exclusively revealed pre-episode 8’s launch. “Then, it was quite fun trying to spot when the showrunners and writers were putting in these little clues.
“And I’ve actually missed quite a few of now, watching it again! I hadn’t realized that you never see Halbrand sleep. One of his first lines to Galadriel is ‘looks can be deceiving’, which is the most obvious clue. It was really fun playing a character that I never expected to play, and having Charlie find he was playing someone he didn’t expect to, either, who we’ve barely seen in this form. It was exciting to go through that together.”
Charles Edwards, who portrays Celebrimbor, didn’t learn of Halbrand’s real identity until he had been cast. Although, Edwards didn’t join the show’s ensemble until July 2021, replacing Tom Budge as the elven smith following Budge’s departure.
“Even then, it was still little references here and there,” Edwards explained. “For a long time, a lot of people genuinely didn’t know, so it was bits of gossip or asking each other ‘Have you heard about so and so?’.
“But the first time I met Charlie, someone had already intimated to me who he might be playing. I said to him ‘I think you and I are going to be doing a lot of stuff together’ and he replied ‘Yeah, I think we are’ – and then nothing more was said for months!2
As Lord of the Rings’ main villain, there’s a unsurprisingly certain level of expectation that fans have for Sauron. However, Vickers isn’t feeling the pressure of bringing such a daunting character to life in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings – although, he understands that not everyone will be enthused with his portrayal.
“I know how important this character is to a lot of people,” he said. “And I feel very privileged and honoured to be able to have the opportunity to bring him to life. It’s very cool. But, of course, I know that people have high expectations and I can’t really control people’s thoughts. I found a lot of solace in the source material and reading and learning as much as I could. The only thing I can do is put my absolute heart and soul into it.”
For more exclusive coverage on The Rings of Power, read up on how the show’s second episode almost inadvertently ruined its big Sauron reveal.