Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the final arc of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season one.
The secret of Sauron loomed large over the first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which kept fans guessing at every turn.
A number of vital characters were proposed as potential options for the Dark Lord of Mordor in disguise, but viewers didn’t receive confirmation until the final episode aired. Near the conclusion of season one’s finale, Charlie Vickers’ Halbrand, a (seemingly) human man, was confirmed to be Sauron, stunning stubborn audience members and delivering a delightful shock ending to the season.
Many of the cast and crew were just as in the dark as audiences thanks to efforts from the team behind Rings of Power. They kept details scarce among the majority of the cast and hid the big reveal until the last possible moment. Not all of the cast was so easily deceived, however, at least according to a recent The Hollywood Reporter interview with Arondir actor Ismael Cruz Córdova.
He determined Sauron’s true identity early on, a fact that he’s particularly proud of following the season’s twist ending. He told THR reporter Brian Davids that he pegged Halbrand as the Lord of Gifts early in the filming process. Without confirmation, but certain that his assessment was correct, the 35-year-old actor even tried to trip Vickers up during filming. He noted that, when he became convinced that Halbrand was not as he appeared he “gave Charlie Vickers a big wink. I was like, ‘What’s up, dude?’ and I gave him a very knowing wink.”
Vickers was “very good at not giving anything away,” but Córdova became increasingly certain that H = S with each day they spent on set together. That’s where the attempts to trip up Vickers came in.
“I would be like, ‘Hey, what’s up, Sauron?’ just to try to get it out of him,” he said. “I knew for a while.”
Córdova wasn’t the only one. A number of fans pegged Halbrand as Sauron early in Rings of Power‘s run, but other viewers stubbornly refused to believe the theories. In retrospect, the show did lay out plenty of breadcrumbs—a number of which were caught by these eagle-eyed viewers—but the series did a spectacular job in keeping viewers (but not Córdova) guessing.