The Rings Of Power's Sauron Actor Didn't Know His Identity Until Later, But Was 'Suspicious'

Warning: major spoilers below for the season finale of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

With the first season of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" in the bag, fans have finally learned which character was Sauron in disguise all this time. While some experienced shock and betrayal at the news that Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) is actually the Dark Lord himself, it can't be anything compared to the surprise the cast must have felt. The casting process for "The Rings of Power" was uncharacteristically secretive: none of the actors auditioned knowing who they'd eventually be playing. That might seem unorthodox, but for a show that hinges on the origins of multiple well-known characters, it was a matter of necessity.

Like the rest of the cast, Vickers had very little clue about who he was auditioning for. His first auditions, the actor later discovered, were for the role of Elrond, who in the series is played by Robert Aramayo. "They must have decided they wanted to go in a different direction, but still wanted me," he told The Guardian. "So I did a few more auditions and eventually figured out I was playing a human, but I didn't know anything beyond that."

It wasn't until Vickers was cast that he learned about Halbrand, and even then his true identity wasn't revealed until months later. Still, Vickers had an inkling that his character wasn't exactly who he said he was, and it was a suspicion that began in the audition room.

A dark twist

Vickers told Variety a bit about the audition process for Halbrand. Seeing as the series scripts were being kept under such tight wraps, most of the actors auditioned with material from other works, Shakespearean standards included. For Vickers, it was a monologue as Richard III, one of the Bard's most famous villains, and another from the epic poem "Paradise Lost." He read as the character of Satan, which alludes pretty strongly to a villainous arc for his mystery character. "I had a feeling that there was going to be a dark twist to the character," Vickers confirmed, "and I was suspicious of it being Sauron." After all that, how could you not?

Still, his suspicions wouldn't be confirmed until much later, after the first two episodes of "The Rings of Power" had already been filmed. "The show went on a hiatus after the second episode because of Covid. With a couple months to go, the showrunners told me," Vickers explained.

That means that there were scenes filmed where Vickers had no idea what truly was in store for his character, but all that secrecy was undoubtedly in place for good reason. It was clearly important to establish at least some form of trust in Halbrand, especially in those early episodes. And while Vickers is clearly a very talented actor, there's always a chance that the knowledge of a character's future could impact their performance in the present.

It's not every day you hear of such secretive productions: for a while, that seemed like a unique quirk of the Marvel Studios machine. But sometimes those unorthodox methods are necessary — and in hindsight, it seems to have paid off rather well.