WARNING: Major spoilers for The Rings Of Power season 1 below.Prime Video’s The Rings of Power took its time revealing its secrets, but the biggest one of all has been revealed in the season 1 finale. Halbrand, played by Charlie Vickers and first introduced in episode 2, has been Sauron all along. From Númenor to the battle in the Southlands that saw the origins of Mount Doom and Mordor, Sauron has been lying in wait, slowly making his way to Eregion to convince Celebrimbor to begin forging the rings of power. The final moments of The Rings of Power season 1 finale see Celebrimbor, Galadriel, and Elrond do just that, crafting the three elven rings that spark war between the dark lord and the elven race.
While Galadriel messes around with precious metals, though, Halbrand (whom we now know as Sauron) has messed with her head and abandoned Eregion for Mordor, setting up a confrontation between Sauron and Adar for Rings of Power season 2. While audiences long suspected that there was something more to Halbrand, The Rings of Power did its best to throw out misdirects, with The Stranger being a prime Sauron candidate. With secrets revealed, rings forged, and journeys begun, The Rings of Power season 1 finale set up plenty of threads to be explored in season 2.
First, though, Screen Rant caught up with the dark lord himself to talk the big Sauron reveal, what it was like for Vickers to harbor this secret for so long, and all the intricacies of playing Middle-earth’s biggest baddie after Morgoth.
Charli Vickers Goes All In On Explaining Sauron
Screen Rant: Does it feel like you can breathe a huge sigh of relief now that you can just talk about everything?
Charlie Vickers: It is nice. I’ve been having to carry this for quite a long time. It’s nice to just be like, it’s out. Now it’s out.
What was your reaction when you found out you were playing Sauron? You had already signed on to the show, so were you like, “Oh, sh-t, like, I’m in it for the long haul now“?
Charlie Vickers: It was really cool because it was nice to know that the character had a lot planned for him. But to be honest, I felt a weight of responsibility and a real sense of privilege. And it was amazing to be able to portray this character at this stage in his journey because we’ve never seen him like this before. And I made sure I just took real care with my portrayal and learned as much as I could about the character. But it was more thrilling and exciting than anything.
You and Morfydd [Clark, who plays Galadriel] obviously spent so much time together. Do you remember her reaction or what she said to you when she found out you were essentially playing her mortal enemy?
Charlie Vickers: I can’t remember exactly what she said, but I think she was more just excited for me. Because we always had a suspicion all throughout all our audition scenes. She’s auditioning for the Galadriel and we chemistry tested a few times together. We were always chatting amongst each other, just being like, “There must be more to my character if we’re all going to this much effort to cast the two of us together. There must be more to Halbrand than just a guy from the south.” So we were sus, but it was kind of cool for both of us to learn when we did learn.
When you found out before episode 3 that you were Sauron, did you change your approach to how you played Halbrand or, since you already have those suspicions, were you already playing into that a little bit?
Charlie Vickers: It was tricky because I didn’t want to play into the suspicions too much [in] the beginning because I didn’t know if they were true. So it was a real challenge as an actor, actually. And I look back on it and think, “Wow, that was an anxious time for me,” because I felt like I was walking this tightrope. Like, was I? Wasn’t I? And I think it was kept from me by people because they had the best intentions really. And when I did learn, to be honest, it didn’t change my approach too much on the day, it just changed the fact that I was able to dive headfirst into even more of the lore, and more of the books.
And right now I’m on the letters of Tolkien and Morgoth’s ring and The Silmarillion. So, I was able to really pinpoint Tolkien’s thoughts on Sauron. And then I would hope that the subconscious work that I did just informed my decisions on the day. I wholeheartedly played Halbrand in the same way that Sauron is wholeheartedly playing Halbrand, in order to convince someone like Galadriel, who is not easily deceived.
We know she was one of the first people, in the lore, to figure out who Sauron really was. And so it happens in this show that she is one of the first people to figure it out. It’s just that Tolkien says that, and this is something that I really narrowed in on, is that Tolkien says the word “eventually.” He says eventually Galadriel learned. And that, to me, implies that there was a period where she didn’t know. And I think that’s what the show has done really well, creating some kind of context and backstory to their relationship.
As you said, there’s room for interpretation in the source material. And I love that you’re doing a deep dive into it. Is there anything that you’ve come across in your readings or anything that you’re excited to potentially explore in the future?
Charlie Vickers: Definitely. We know Sauron takes on different shapes in this era. All I can say is maybe to that. Maybe we’re going to do those things. But I’m incredibly excited to explore him doing these things that we know he does. He has a sh-tload of rings to make, and he gets to go to Númenor, and he orchestrates the downfall of Númenor. Then he has to take another form and go and fight in the Battle of the Last Alliance. The battle at the end of the Second Age.
I think that is the Last Alliance. I think you’re right.
Charlie Vickers: I just always get confused because it always seems like the Last Alliance at the end of every age [laugh]. There is another Alliance at the end of that. [But] the showrunners have a really specific plan, and I don’t know their plans as to how it’ll unfold, but I loved playing him in this repentance stage. Whether the repentance is genuine or not is open to interpretation. But I think it’s going to be really cool now that he’s kind of out there. And it’s like, I’m back. I’ve been lingering. I’ve been coming back very slowly. And now, thanks to Galadriel, I’m back. And I’m excited to play that.
You did the turn at the end of that episode into evil really well. The conversation with Galadriel and then lording over Mordor. How fun was it to finally be able to just have the hooded robe and look evil?
Charlie Vickers: That was sick. I just love that, man. Doing that scene by the river where he has that transition [and] she throws the scroll on the ground. He just takes a moment, and he’s just like, “Well, the game is up, and I’m just going to pitch it to you.” And I loved being able to play him, when [Galadriel] tries to stab him, [and] it’s just effortless strength. And it’s the first time you see that because he’s reaching. He’s not there yet, but he’s getting back to being really powerful.
And in the same, it was the worst closed set in the world when I’m standing on the top of that mountain looking at Mount Doom. Just a massive rock in the middle of the car park at the studio. And I could be seen from everywhere. But like wearing that cloak… Luca [Mosca], our in the last couple of episodes, he designed this beautiful, beautiful piece. And it was epic to wear that and like have it blowing in the wind. It was just kind of a fanboy moment for me.
Do you think Sauron genuinely believes that his rule, if Galadriel was by his side, wouldn’t be as evil or dark? Or do you think he was just trying to rope her in and have that companion that he’s had since the beginning?
Charlie Vickers: I think it’s a bit of both. I think he thinks that if she’s with him, he can affect his designs faster. That’s why he loved Morgoth. Because Morgoth would just get it done. And with her by his side, I think ultimately, because of his nature, he would be the one in charge, and he would dictate what goes on. It would spiral to that. But if she joined him, he has the ear of the Elves. He has a way into this race that he hates. And he can use them if he has one of their most powerful people on his side. But in the same vein, I think when she refuses his pitch, I think it’s all still okay. It’s like, “Well, now you’ve shown me what I need and want to do. So, I’m going to make it happen whether you’re with me or not.” It angers him that she says no. But I don’t necessarily think it’s a huge surprise to him.
Looking back on the whole show now, knowing you’re Sauron in the interaction between you and Adar… Did Joseph know that you were Sauron while filming that episode or was he completely in the dark? And are we going to see more of that rivalry explored? Obviously, he’s in Mordor, now you’re in Mordor…
Charlie Vickers: I think when it came to filming that episode, Joseph knew, and we spent quite a lot of time working over our backstory based on information from the showrunners and things that we will see next season. We see Adar’s relationship with Sauron. So it’s a really complex and long-standing relationship that comes to a head in that moment. I think there’s a huge part of Sauron, of Halbrand that’s like, “I look different, but goddamn, I want you to remember me, so you know it’s me about to kill you.” And I think it’s an example of him – the same in that alleyway. You see his mania and the fact that he is really evil and a bad guy. It comes out and it’s uncontrollable because it’s unquestionable that Sauron… He’s an evil dude.
About The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.
Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
Check out our interviews with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power cast at SDCC 2022, as well as with:
Next: Everything We Know About The Rings Of Power Season 2
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 1 is now streaming on Prime Video.