Last night, we learned that Amazon Prime’s The Lord Of The Rings has added one new actor to its steadily growing cast: the secretive streaming series is a slow burn, and Tolkien fans are beginning to get impatient with the unpredictable trickle of news – or, at least, I am. So far, we’ve got three actors (none of whom have actually been confirmed by Amazon Prime), a filming location and date, a general idea of setting, and a long list of behind-the-scenes crew, including directors, writers, costume designers, consultants, etc. But as for the story that’s going to be told, there are only vague hints and guesses; and, most frustratingly, we still have no actual title – not even a working title – for the series.
The newest member of the cast is supposedly Maxim Baldry, a young English actor best known for his role in the HBO semi-dystopian epic Years And Years. Baldry has also landed a role in the next season of Dr. Who. So he’s not a complete unknown, as first castmember Markella Kavenagh was, but he’s also not a big-name like Will Poulter (and, let’s be frank, Poulter isn’t really a big-name). We don’t have any idea who Baldry is playing, though the original article states his role will be “significant” – that could honestly be anybody, but let’s take a guess as to which Tolkien character he could be portraying on the big screen.
Baldry has facial features that immediately scream elf: defined cheekbones, luscious locks, even pointy ears. Based off the clips I could find of him in interviews and onscreen, he is soft-spoken, with a very distinct English accent. There are several Elven characters (that we know of) who he could be playing – Celebrimbor, the craftsman who designed the Rings of Power, is one of my favorite suggestions: Baldry looks like he could bring a sensitivity and coolness to the role. Readers of the books will know that Celebrimbor was an ill-fated but well-intentioned leader who was deceived by the Dark Lord, Sauron.
But that got me thinking: what if – and hear me out – what if Baldry is playing Sauron? Fans of Peter Jackson’s iconic trilogy only know Sauron as an armored giant or a massive floating eyeball, but Tolkien’s novels and unpublished writings lay out a great deal of backstory for the character, who isn’t quite the clear-cut “evil bad guy” that Tolkien’s detractors seem to think he is: in the Second Age, when this series takes place, Sauron is disguised under another name, that of Annatar, and another guise; that of a handsome, charismatic Elven lord. He seduced the Elves to their destruction, tempting them with gifts and good advice: he became a close confidante of Celebrimbor’s, and helped him to forge the Great Rings, before stealing the secrets of the Elf’s craft and designing his own ring, the One Ring. And though he quickly turned to evil to achieve his goals, Sauron did at least try, for a time, to put on a semblance of good intention, and in fact intended to reform Middle-earth and create there a paradise fit to rival the dwelling-place of the Gods: long story short, Tolkien’s Elves originally lived in a beautiful land called Valinor, from which they were mostly banished to Middle-earth by the gods, after a really nasty incident involving a whole bunch of bloodshed and death; then, after the end of the First Age, those Elves were offered the opportunity to repent for their crimes and return to Valinor, or stay in Middle-earth, as outcasts. Those who stayed were obviously not too pleased with the gods, which is why Annatar’s promises were so appealing – he played on their greed and their desire for vengeance, and offered them the chance of a lifetime. Baldry has that endearing charm that one would expect from Annatar/Sauron – not to mention the ability to plausibly pass as an Elf.
Then again, he could be someone entirely different. We have no idea, and we’re not likely to find out for some time yet. So, while we wait, leave your own thoughts, theories and opinions below!