Just two months ago, Charlie Vickers was a complete unknown – cast as a brand-new character in TV’s most expensive show ever, The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power. Since then, and thanks to playing Middle-earth’s most mysterious character yet, he’s shot to stardom, jumped onto magazine covers and grabbed the attention of all the right people. You might call him 2022’s breakout star to rule them all.
In The Rings Of Power, he plays Halbrand – a dashing young man with a murky past. During episode one, he rescued fierce Elven warrior Galadriel when she was marooned at sea in the middle of a storm. It felt like he was one of the show’s main heroes. But as the series progressed, a shadow lengthened about him and he started acting suspiciously. By last week’s finale, the cat was well and truly out of the bag: Halbrand is actually the dark lord Sauron in disguise.
With fans already looking towards season two (filming of which recently got underway), we met up with Vickers via Zoom to find out as much as we possibly could about what’s still to come.
Hey Charlie, it’s been a pretty big week for you!
“Yeah it has been! I did some interviews this morning and then I went to the gym, went to a cafe, and did a bit of work on scenes I’m filming next week for the second season.”
Now everyone knows you’re Sauron, do you get strangers coming up to you?
“Yeah, they shout kill him! [laughs] No, that hasn’t happened yet but anyone that has said something has always been very nice.”
When did you find out you were Sauron?
“It was half-way through shooting. They took me onto the set in the Northern Waste which Galadriel discovers in the first episode. There are orcs stuck in walls. It’s nasty. They took me in there and they didn’t hail me or anything, they just said: ‘This is your kingdom, this is where you’ve been hanging out – you’re Sauron’. And I was like ‘holy shit!’”
Had you had an inkling?
“Morfydd [Clark, who plays Galadriel] and I were both theorising from the start. We chemistry tested together a couple of times and we were like ‘there’s something going on here’. I auditioned playing Satan from Paradise Lost and Richard III!’”
Looking back on season one it’s clear Adar, played by Joseph Mawle, nearly recognises Halbrand as Sauron…
“Yeah, Joseph and I worked really hard in creating that story and it’s something we see more of in the second season. We see Adar and Sauron’s time and how they first connected. Adar’s going to have to do some saying sorry at some point though [for what he did in season one].”
And what about the connection between Sauron and the Stranger, played by Daniel Weyman?
“I’m not sure that Sauron knows that an Istar [the Stranger] has been sent from Valinor. We know [from Tolkien’s writings] that they were sent in the Second Age [when The Rings Of Power is set]. The Blue Wizards were sent and for the record I’m not sure if the Stranger is Gandalf. I know everyone thinks it is, but I genuinely don’t know. Of course he has some lines which mirror what Gandalf says [in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy] but I genuinely don’t know. I don’t think Sauron’s aware of that yet. He may have felt some disturbance when [the Stranger] crash-landed [in episode one]. He may have felt something because of course The Stranger is a Maia too. I think he will be a very troublesome foe in the future because he’s the closest thing to Sauron in Middle-earth in terms of power. I hope there’s some kind of dynamic to come there.”
What else can you tell us about season two – what can we expect from Sauron?
“All I can say is we’re getting into the meat of it now. The world has been established in season one and now we can get into the lore. I’m talking about the stuff at the heart of The Rings Of Power: the Akalabeth [the downfall of the kingdom of Numenor]. Sauron is out there now and there’s no longer any questions or theories about who he is – which is a shame for some I guess. We’re gonna be with him while he’s doing shit, while he’s out there manipulating people and taking on the elves.”
Eventually, he’s going to have to transform into the Sauron we know – would you be willing to get in the suit yourself?
“I have thought about that. When we get to the fifth season, am I going to have to look for another job? It’s one of those things. What did they do in The Mandalorian [when Pedro Pascal took off the helmet]?”
I guess it’s more like Obi Wan Kenobi, when Hayden Christensen suited up for Darth Vader after playing Anakin Skywalker…
“I would love to do that. I would love to do some acting through a suit, even if it’s just with prosthetics and not actually Sauron’s famous big suit [from the films]. There’s so many cool things that our Sauron could be at that stage. I’ve seen interpretations of him when he’s been deformed and artist drawings when he could no longer take his fair form [as Halbrand]. I loved it. So fingers crossed I can eke more time out on the show!”
Tell us about the promised two-episode battle we’re getting next season…
“I haven’t read that yet. I think it comes towards the end of the season. We’ve only got the first three scripts, three episodes. But [showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay] told me about it and it’s super exciting. The best thing is it’s in the lore. If you go to the appendices, you’ll see what’s about to happen. I think it’s going to be pretty epic.”
‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’ is streaming on Prime Video now