The “Rings of Power” actor analyses the first season of his character’s journey and explains how his character was completely dishonest without ever actually lying.
Halbrand was first seen at the beginning of The Rings of Power episode two on Prime Video, emerging from the mist on a raft with protruding boards that resembled Sauron’s helmet.
Since then, the character has been the subject of intense fan speculation as Halbrand has repeatedly hinted that his secret identity as a wandering Aragorn-like king actually hid a much darker past.
Below, British actor Charlie Vickers (Palm Beach) discusses his multiple identity role, why parts of Halbrand’s actions that don’t seem very Sauron-like make sense, and what the character will be doing next.
So When Did You Know?
It wasn’t until the third episode’s opening that I was certain. After filming the first two episodes, the show was put on hold due to COVID. The creators of the show sat me down and informed me at the conclusion of the break. I didn’t know when I recorded that scene on the raft. I gave it my all while portraying Halbrand.
If I’m being honest with you, I did have a hunch, though. We all know that Richard III isn’t the world’s best character, therefore my previous two auditions were me reading lines from the play. The remaining words from your audition were taken from Paradise Lost, where you are delivering the speech as Satan.
So that provided me a hint that something wasn’t right. I was therefore very skeptical, but it wasn’t confirmed until just before the third episode’s filming.
I want to take you on the character’s journey because I believe this will prompt people to reevaluate all of his scenes. What do you make of his introduction on that raft, then? Galadriel asks if he went to meet her on purpose or if a higher force orchestrated their meeting.
I’m aware of this. But I believe it would be better if the query went unanswered. Because [in season two] we learn about that backstory. The moment will come to respond to that query.
There are so many signs that when I viewed the early episodes again with the theory that Halbrand was Sauron, it almost seemed wonderfully apparent. Which one did you prefer?
There are several humorous moments in Rings Of Power. Looks can be deceiving is the second line I have on the raft. Which I truly didn’t understand at the moment because I wasn’t aware that I was portraying Sauron! But as I reflect, I say to myself, “Wow, it’s all there.” Then, as I enter Nmenor and stop by the forge, I believe there was a point when fans who are well-versed in the lore raised red flags.
It’s difficult to image the Dark Lord truly desiring to work as some blacksmith’s apprentice in Nmenor, which is one factor that discouraged some fans from thinking Halbrand might be Sauron. Who or what was responsible for that scene?
A smith, he is. He has extensive knowledge of the smithing trade. You have to consider it in terms of the location of Sauron’s point of repentance. In The Silmarillion, Tolkien makes it clear that he is sorry, if not out of fear. Therefore, the real question was whether his repentance was sincere, not whether he was repentant. He has been humiliated.
He has almost been made to feel humble. Therefore, when you see him drifting on a raft, it’s pretty much the lowest point you can go. According to Tolkien, Sauron made a comeback and lurked in Middle-earth for a very long period before gradually regaining power. He used these exact phrases.
And I believe that’s why he’s there seeking a job—to find a way to get back on his feet. The idea of him rebuilding is quite intriguing. Over the course of Arda’s whole history, he rebuilds numerous times. One illustration of that is this.
Because I do question why the second-greatest Tolkien villain in terms of power would accept a position as a blacksmith in Nmenor. If his repentance is sincere, he is seeking a new life and actually attempting to flee wickedness.
However, if his contrition is not sincere and he is faking it, then it may be a ploy to buy time and have him appear occupied in Nmenor while he waits for events to take place. There are two ways to look at it. I had a response for myself that I applied to the character. Anyway, I think it’s intriguing to leave it open-ended and allow individuals to interpret it however they see fit.
Someone familiar with the program noted that Sauron the deceiver never flat-out lies in his discourse during season one. Does that make sense to you as well?
It is real. It interests me because he is this deceiver and must ultimately fully embody this shape in order to deceive. He must be totally immersed in what he is doing in order to persuade someone like Galadriel, which required me to really immerse myself in the Halbrand character.
But in the back, Sauron has done all his unconscious work. But yes, he says, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry for everything,” I believe in the sixth episode. I feel bad for your brother. that is accurate. Galadriel simply can’t see what she needs to see. She doesn’t recognize the veracity of the assertion.
I enjoyed how he advised Galadriel to “identify what your opponent most fears… and give them a way of mastering it, so that you can master them,” which is essentially what Sauron will accomplish with the rings.
He also says, “I have been looking for my peace for longer than you know,” as he cautions her against taking him back to Middle-earth. Please let me keep it for the sake of us both. Even as Halbrand, that last sentence is absurd. Why would his staying in Nmenor be beneficial for her? If he is Sauron, it only functions.
In the epilogue, he declares that Galadriel should rule as his queen. Is there real curiosity and appeal there, or was that just a power move?
I only perceive a power play here. She is only attracted to or interested in things because of this cosmic link. She and he have both been present for a very long time. He rarely encounters someone on his level. That must have been fantastic and exhilarating for him.
But when he tells her that, everything comes down to his desire for or fear of achieving personal gain; at that point, she is all that matters to him. She is a tool for him to reclaim his position of authority alongside her. That will be more successful in the near run, but I believe that in the long run, he won’t be content unless he is in charge and by himself.
What kind of world is he picturing when he says he wants to heal Middle-Earth? In the same way that we connect Sauron with gloom and a volcano, he joyfully spoke to Nmenor as a paradise and appeared to wish to stay there.
I believe he has a deep appreciation for beauty. And because he despises and dislikes the gods so much, I believe his intention was to establish a separate paradise from Valinor in order to mock them. It has to do with organizing and healing. Tolkien mentions his desire to eliminate unnecessary friction from Middle-earth.
Everything is chaotic if you look at the status of the globe, the Southlands, the dispersed tribes, and the fighting clans. In his vision, Middle-restoration Earth entails a complete restructuring under his exclusive dominion. The majesty, wonder, and beauty of Middle-earth are being developed, but everything needs to be extremely structured and organized. He can only be happy if he is in command and has complete control over how things are done.
The showrunners have informed me that Sauron will be heavily featured in season two and that he will be operating and manipulating from the open road. What are some upcoming season teases for your character?
Because you start to recognize Sauron for who he is, I think this is a really thrilling season. He has been coming to see us at this time of repentance. We will now enter the phase of following his plans as they develop.
He moves the chess pieces while you are present. We’re going to witness some of the mythology that I loved reading about in The Silmarillion since it is so deep, intriguing, and exhilarating. The next season will see the resolution of those incredibly well-known tales.
Last but not least, actors in genre television and film frequently have to maintain secrets. But this was a significant one that generated a lot of rumors. Have there been any challenging times along the way where you had to hold back?
I’ve had folks tell me, “You’re Sauron,” ever since the first episode aired. Since they are some of my closest friends, I had to decide whether to let them go or keep them hanging. The Witch King and the King of the Dead have both been theories about me.
People have pointed out to me images of the King of the Dead, who is essentially a skeleton, and said, “You look just like this guy.” When I first found out about it, the only person I could tell was [Galadriel actor Morfydd Clark]. So, being able to share it is a relief.
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Irving is the Chief Editor at the Landscape Insight. He lives just outside of New York. His writings have also been featured in some very famous magazines. When he isn’t reading the source material for a piece or decompressing with a comfort horror movie, Irving is usually somewhere in his car.