Sauron is coming. But so far, the Dark Lord hasn’t been so easy to spot.
Fans are confident that the iconic villain will appear in The Rings of Power, the highly anticipated Lord of the Rings prequel that will premiere on Prime Video on Sept 2. He plays a pivotal role in the Second Age of Middle-earth outlined in the appendices to The Return of the King, the source material for the show. But the series’ executive producer says that popular fan theories about Sauron and the actor who portrays the villain are wrong.
Around the time The Rings of Power takes place, more than 3,000 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, Sauron is in hiding after the defeat of his evil master, Morgoth. He eventually disguises himself and goes by the name Annatar in order to trick the elven smiths into showing him how to channel power into the rings they forge, knowledge he later uses to create the titular rings of power—including the one precious ring that helps him nearly take over all of Middle-earth.
Fans have spent months speculating when and how he might appear in the show. They’ve combed the various trailers and publicity shots. Some theorize that fans have already seen his image—or at least his Annatar guise. But executive producer Lindsey Weber told TIME the prevailing fan theories may be on the wrong track.
When The Rings of Power dropped a new trailer at San Diego Comic-Con in July, fans found a leading contender for Sauron: A new, mysterious character with villainous vibes and a close-cropped, bleach blonde haircut that fans on Twitter hastened to point out was reminiscent of Eminem’s iconic look.
While reporting my recent cover story for TIME about The Rings of Power, Weber exclusively shared that the actor in that trailer had been misidentified. The mysterious person is played by Bridie Sisson, who previously starred in Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop. And while Weber would not confirm the name of Sisson’s character, she did offer a tantalizing hint about her origins.
“We are enjoying all the speculation online and can tell you Bridie Sisson is an incredible actor,” Weber said. “We also thought fans might like to know that her character is traveling from far to the east—from the lands of Rhûn…”
Tolkien buffs will already know that Rhûn was home to a people called the Easterlings in the Second and Third Ages. Rhûn also happens to be Sauron’s stomping grounds. The dark lord consolidates power in the East, and soldiers from Rhûn fight alongside orcs and other men in his armies against the men of the West.
But back to the Slim Shady lookalike. Could Sisson’s mysterious character be Sauron in disguise? I’m skeptical: The character appears to be too obviously evil—furrowed brow, hood pulled up, with a scowl on her face. It also seems like Sauron’s reveal wouldn’t come in a trailer but during some pivotal moment in the show itself. But this new character could be one of his servants, or someone else significant.
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