The Rings of Power's Charlie Vickers Discusses Keeping Sauron's Secret, the Stranger's Connection, and the Surprising Performance That Inspired Him (Exclusive)

Charlie Vickers played an epic villain reveal in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power's first season finale, "Alloyed." In the episode, Vickers' character, Halbrand, reveals himself as Sauron to Galadriel, whom Halbrand befriended earlier in the season. The reveal comes as the Elven smith Celebrimbor uses the knowledge that Halbrand/Sauron offered him a "gift" to forge The Three Rings, the first of the eponymous Rings of Power. Fully revealed, Sauron tempts Galadriel with an offer to become his queen, a joint ruler sharing dominion over all of Middle-earth. When Galadriel refuses, Sauron vanishes, reappearing on the outskirts of the newly formed Mordor, setting the stage for The Rings of Power's second season.

Following the finale, had the opportunity to talk to Vickers about the big reveal. He told us that he'd like the opportunity to play Batman villain, Mr. Freeze, at some point, but also dug deep into his performance as Sauron, keeping that secret, what comes next, Sauron's connection to the Stranger, and the surprising performance that inspired him. Here's what he had to say:

(Photo: Prime Video)

Now that you are not harboring this secret -- I know you've only just started working on season two, and only seen a couple of scripts -- but how has that affected your performance and the choices you make? How is the depiction of the character different going into this new chapter?

Charlie Vickers: I mean, to be honest, it hasn't changed my approach to the character that much compared to season one at this date, because I knew for most of season one, really. It's just that now it's out in the open. I guess that's where the difference is. And it's in the writing mainly. We get to see Sauron openly doing his thing, at least from the audience's perspective. The other characters don't know, but I think for me, it's quite interesting to be able to play things a bit more with the knowledge that the audience is in on it with me now. It informs some of the decisions I make. That's the main difference this season, I would guess.

In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, both the books and the movie, Sauron doesn't have a body. Instead, he's like a force of nature, which almost makes him scarier. Is there a trick to humanizing him without lessening him and making him seem less than the great evil that he eventually becomes?

Yeah, that's a really good question. It's something I think about a lot, and I think that so far with Halbrand, at least in his deception, I leant into making him human because in order to deceive someone like Galadriel or deceive the people that he meets, he has to be fully invested in this kind of persona that he's created. If there are any sort of things that don't sit as human in his form as Halbrand, then he would start to raise alarms. So I really invested in making him as human as possible. But then there are some elements that, for example, in the finale, changed some things that I consciously shifted like the placement of my voice and the posture. It's hard to put a finger on all the intentional things I did, but it was more like letting in years of experience, I think.

And I think what I tried to do, there's a difference between the scene where he reveals himself to her and then when he's on the raft because when he's on the raft, he's appealing to her as a friend. So he is very much in the form of Halbrand then, but when he reveals himself by the river, I think there's an element where he sheds the human cloak for a moment and I guess that informed my physical decisions of posture and voice. And that's something that I'll be using and, definitely, I'm thinking about as we go into the second season.

I know from other interviews you've done that the visions of Sauron in his full armor were computer-generated and that you haven't been fitted for that costume yet. I have to wonder though, are you looking at Sauron's fashion choices with anticipation or dread? Because he certainly makes a statement, but it doesn't look very practical or comfortable.

No, exactly. I think I'm looking at it with excitement because of being able to wear something that iconic and that cool. But yeah, you're right, practically it would be a real challenge to wear. I'm sure the mobility might be pretty limited.

Sauron's, obviously this hugely iconic villain, but he doesn't have a body in the movies, so this is the first time we're really seeing him personified in live-action. Are there any other iconic villain performances that informed what you're doing? Or has it been pretty much entirely -- I know you did a ton of research into Tolkien's writing for this -- is that it rather than looking at other actors?

I think there are performances throughout history and then recent performances that I love. And I think as an actor I'm always looking for inspiration. And I watch quite a few documentaries. There's a documentary on tyrants that I watched which was interesting, but that was more again about psychology, building up the psychology behind someone that wants to rule and be a dictator. But yeah, a lot of Tolkien's material. I'm a big fan of The Boys, the TV show, The Boys, and I've watched a lot of Anthony Star as Homelander and I don't know whether -- I didn't consciously try to mirror anything, but I found his performance really inspiring as kind of that villainous character, but you almost root for him at different stages as well. I just think it's a masterful portrayal of his work and that's incredible, and I was really inspired by watching him work.

I know they keep you guys as much in the dark as they can, but the showrunners have said some things since of finale. They've compared Sauron's season two to Walter White in Breaking Bad, for example. As much as know, can you give us a sense of what fans should expect from Sauron's season two arc?

I think the Walter White comparison is interesting, I think, because it's this idea of an anti-hero, right? And drawing on others -- it's funny you mentioned other performances because you do, for something like Walter White -- I would hope that the audience can watch and be in on it with Sauron. You're going on this journey with him and you're seeing him deceive people and it's also almost kind of satisfying watching him do it and in some twisted way maybe you root for him. Because when you look at the character, I think he is very manipulative and deceptive and I think, in his deception, he has to gain a lot of trust. And I think there's something really exciting about watching him gain the trust of other characters, which will ultimately lead to their downfall.

They also hinted that there's a big connection between Sauron and the Stranger related to how the nature of the Stranger is revealed in the finale, him being one of the Istari. Can you offer anything about the nature of that connection? You might not even know, but If you don't know, do you have your own theories about it?

I don't actually know. I don't know any specifics regarding the Stranger, but I would say that the connection part of what they're alluding to, I think, is that the Stranger is probably a Maiar in that Sauron is a Maiar. To Sauron, his biggest threat is one of his own, I would guess, in Middle-earth. So maybe there's some future conflict there. Maybe they'll cross paths. I genuinely don't know, but that's really exciting for me because Daniel Weyman's so astounding in that role. And yeah, I'd be really excited to work with him if the opportunity came along.

I write for Obviously, we cover a lot of superhero stuff, and one of the big trends lately in that realm is a lot of actors keeping a lot of secrets and sometimes just blatantly lying about it. Do you feel at this point, after keeping this Sauron secret, a kinship with those actors, such as Andrew Garfield just swearing up and down that he wasn't in Spider-Man: No Way Home? Do you feel like it was on that level or even bigger, given that it's Sauron?

I don't know. It was kind of like there was an element where I could be mirroring Sauron in my own life and trying to deceive people. I think while it wasn't enjoyable, it was a challenge to keep it a secret, but I tried not to outwardly lie about it, which I think in the same way when you look at Sauron season one, there are similarities there. Anytime I was asked, I would just sort of say, "Oh, that's an interesting theory. Let's see where that goes," rather than just saying, "No, I'm not. I'm 100% not." But yeah, I definitely feel for people like Andrew. There was so much attention around that in Spider-Man and they did such a good job keeping it secret. Maybe my approach was slightly different to his.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 1 is streaming now in its entirety on Prime Video. The show's second season is now in production.