The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has started on Amazon Prime Video and we’ve already got a glimpse of Sauron. During the prologue to the premiere, we witness the Dark Lord leading a pack of Orcs in the battle against the Elves. While we’ve seen Sauron lead the army before (as depicted in Peter Jackson’s films), the villain works for the devil Morgoth instead.
That’s because The Rings of Power is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, and that prologue reveals events from the First Age. Essentially, in the First Age, Sauron was just a lieutenant for Morgoth, then he goes into hiding – which is why Galadriel, as seen in The Rings of Power, hunts him down. In the coming seasons we will see Sauron’s rise as he builds an army worthy of Mordor, and one day he will fight the Elves and Men and his hand will be chopped off by Isildur. (Check out our Lord of the Rings timeline for a much more in-depth look at Middle-earth’s overarching story.)
We’ve got an extremely long time until that point (five seasons of The Rings of Power are coming out of Amazon) and Sauron has yet to be unmasked. However, as showrunner JD Payne told us earlier this year, when Sauron returns, “It might be in a way people don’t expect.” Mysterious – and he could hint at a few potential characters.
Who plays Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?
One of the most unlikely candidates, although much has been theorized about it online, is The Stranger – the man who fell from the sky during the opening episode of The Rings of Power. We know that Sauron is already on Middle-earth, so the arrival of this man seems to rule out the possibility that he is the Dark Lord. There’s also a much higher chance that he’s one of the five wizards sent to help Middle-earth in times of trouble (including Gandalf, though The Stranger is more likely a Blue Wizard). That’s not to say Daniel Weyman’s character probably isn’t Sauron, but don’t rule out anything – this could be a real surprise.
Another person that’s been talked about a lot online as possibly Sauron is the odd Eminem-looking person from the trailer. Reports initially claimed that Anson Boon, who recently appeared in Pistol, the Sex Pistols series, played the character, but they were actually misidentified. That’s Bridie Sisson, who previously appeared in Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop series.
Discussing the character with Time (opens in new tab), producer Lindsey Weber remained coy. “We enjoy all the speculation online and can tell you that Bridie Sisson is an incredible actor,” Weber said. “We also thought fans would love to know that her character travels from far east – from the land of Rhûn…”
That area is where the Easterlings, the men who ride the Mûmakils in Lord of the Rings, come from. The only characters we’ve seen of potential near that location so far are Ismael Cruz Córdova’s Bronwyn, Arondirand Nazanin Boniadi, from the southeastern region known as The Southlands. As seen in the first episodes, their home is attacked by Orcs, which can be linked to Sisson’s character’s entry into the show.
Also note: some fans are outraged that, should this be Sauron, they’re not a massive warrior, as seen in the Jackson movies and the opening prologue to The Rings of Power. However, Sauron is actually an Annatar, who, according to Tolkien lore, is a shape-shifter. And, as McKay said, don’t expect Sauron to look like you’d expect.
Now there’s one final cast member announced who appears to be playing a villain. Joseph Mawle plays a character known as Oren, although some conflicting reports say this is a code name for his real title, Adar. We know next to nothing about the character. But a fun fact: When I interviewed the makeup team behind the series earlier this year, they said Mawle’s design was the hardest thing in the entire show to get right. Make it what you want.
Of course, none of these characters can be Sauron, and the Dark Lord can be played by someone completely different. We’ll have to wait and see as Galadriel hunts down the villain in the coming episodes. For more information on The Rings of Power, see our guides to the Harfoots, The Rings of Power timeline, and The Rings of Power release schedule.