How The Rings Of Power Kept An 'Elfness' To The Look Of Adar [Exclusive]

The character of Adar (Joseph Mawle) was introduced in "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" at the very end of the third episode, and we get to see more of him in the fourth. To the eye of the viewer, he appears to be an elf who has been through some traumatic event that left him with facial scarring. The orcs call him "Lord Father," with the word "Adar" meaning "father" in Tolkien's elvish language. 

Adar is both terrifying and intriguing: an elf who commands the loyalty of the orcs, who themselves are said to be former elves turned into these creatures by Morgoth, the first evil in the world of "The Lord of the Rings" and the mentor to Sauron. He knows Arondir's (Ismael Cruz Córdova) homeland of Beleriand, destroyed in the war with Morgoth, and sends him back with a message that the humans will live if they agree to serve him. He's likely to be a pivotal character going forward.

/Film's own Vanessa Armstrong recently spoke to the head of prosthetics for "The Rings of Power," Jamie Wilson, who worked for Weta Workshop during the production of Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and was the armor and weapons production manager for Jackson's "The Hobbit" trilogy. Wilson explained that it was important to keep an "elfness" to Adar, rather than straying too far into "monster" territory.

'We definitely kept the elfness there'

Wilson was asked about how he approached creating the prosthetics for Adar and conveying that there was something not quite right about him. He explained that they worked to keep him from looking like "some sort of beast or be too over the top." The idea, he said, was that the audience recognizes him as an elf but sees that he's turned to the darkness. If we do end up seeing Sauron as he first appears to the elves in Tolkien's work later in the series, it will likely be the opposite of this; Sauron's deceitful form is beautiful and called Annatar, "Lord of Gifts." 

Wilson explained that keeping Adar's elven look "adds more of a story to it, rather than just being some crazy monster:"

"So it was important that we definitely kept the elfness there, but at the same time there is darkness creeping in, be it physical — because obviously, you can see he has been attacked or traumatized at some point — and also probably a mental darkness that has crept into his soul."

There is something that feels "off" about Adar, aside from his actions. He appears to have not only been hurt, but corrupted. His elven heritage is evident, but there's a haunted look to him. It's that sort of otherworldly and greyish appearance to the skin that's often seen in people who have exceptionally high fevers. 

'There's a fine line'

Wilson also spoke about the subtle touches he gave to the character of Adar that separate him from the elves, but keeps his heritage obvious:

" ... if you actually lined him up alongside one of the other lead elf characters, you would actually notice he's got more pronounced upper cheekbones here. And also there's some work to the ears, the coloration of his skin, and also the scars. The color of his skin was meant to look septic or toxic — not elf-like, who are beautiful, porcelain, and ethereal characters who float around. He is definitely not that."

Ethereal isn't a word you'd associate with Adar, now that we've seen him. He looks sickly, as though the corruption of the land that the orcs are creating corrupted him as well. 

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is currently streaming on Prime Video, with new episodes released every Friday.