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The Rings Of Power: Halbrand Was Born From A Few Sentences In The Fellowship Of The Ring

There are myriad characters in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. The author made up unique personalities for Elves, Men, Dwarves, Hobbits, Orcs, Trolls, Ents, Dragons, and even (if you've read "The Fellowship of the Ring" book) a fox. If a creature can move, there's a chance it's sentient.

Despite this massive selection of characters to choose from, Amazon Studios's "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" series managed to add a huge number of new faces to the bunch. They created original characters like the Elf Arondir, the humans Bronwyn and Theo, the Dwarven Princess Disa, and the entire Harfoot community. Oh yeah, and they also developed a special fella named Halbrand (i.e., the Dark Lord Sauron in disguise).

In an interview with Esquire in the fall of 2022 shortly after Season 1 ended, showrunner J. D. Payne shed light on the question of how Halbrand came into existence. Payne explained that the inspiration stemmed from a few sentences Galadriel utters in "The Fellowship of the Ring," saying, "There was one tantalizing sentence in 'The Mirror of Galadriel' when Galadriel was talking Frodo and Sam. She says, 'I perceive the dark Lord and know his mind, or all his mind that concerns the elves. And he gropes ever to see me and my thought. But still the door is closed.' That felt like a really loaded statement to us, speaking to some kind of a relationship. Galadriel also says when she's offered the ring, 'Instead of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen.' She feels like she's experienced or anticipated this temptation for a long time."

It was these two brief lines, uttered by Galadriel within a page of one another in the book, from which Halbrand was born.

Sauron wears a lot of hats

When the name "Sauron" pops up, it usually conjures some pretty epic images. Fans of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" movies likely picture a larger-than-life figure in black armor wielding a giant mace and a tiny little golden Ring. They might also visualize a giant eyeball on a tower, too — even if that confusing image isn't anything like J.R.R. Tolkien's original vision for the character.

Speaking of the author, in Tolkien's own writings, Sauron may not show up as a literally flaming eyeball that operates like an overblown spotlight. But he takes many other forms nonetheless. Throughout books like "The Silmarillion" and "Unfinished Tales," he pops up as the attractive Annatar and the shadowy Necromancer. At one point, he even transforms into a snake, a monster, and a bat-shaped vampire.

At no point in either Jackson's trilogy or Tolkien's source material, though, does Sauron go by the name of Halbrand. So, when the dashing character (played by the inscrutable Charlie Vickers) popped up in Episode 2 of Season 1 of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," it threw everyone for a loop. His eventual reveal at the end of the season as the Dark Lord in disguise led to the natural follow-up question: why Halbrand?

What led to the creation of Halbrand?

Halbrand is a unique character in Tolkienian lore. There isn't really anyone like him. He does lightly echo a version of Sauron that is briefly dethroned and captured by the Númenóreans at one point in "The Silmarillion." In that case, though, he's portrayed as a humbled tyrant, not a dispossessed victim. So, what led J. D. Payne and fellow showrunner Patrick McKay to come up with a persona of a dispossessed king of the Southlands when it was so different from all of Sauron's other personalities and shapeshifting profiles?

Payne addressed this in his original answer by saying of Galadriel's responses to Frodo and Sam, "All of these things spoke to a long history with darkness, and more specifically with Sauron. So we asked: would we like to figure out some kind of relationship between them? If you could do it in a way where she meets him without knowing who he is, which feels fair given that he's a deceiver and shapeshifter, we felt like there was this opportunity. From there, we started backfilling. What kind of person would he have to be? How would they meet?"

Eventually, the showrunners came up with the innocent, belligerent, and seemingly uninterested Halbrand persona. It is a bold yet humble take on an otherwise epic character. Now that the cat is out of the bag, though, one thing is clear. Sauron's Halbrand persona doesn't seem long for this world. Chances are, once Season 2 kicks off, we'll see the Dark Lord living it up as Sauron again — that is, unless the rumors are true, and he ends up living two lives by shapeshifting into his Annatar personality at some point after all.