The Inverse Interview

Who is the Stranger? Rings of Power star teases “a new character” in season 2

Rings of Power star says one single word has changed the direction for the biggest mystery in the epic fantasy series.

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When Daniel Weyman learned who The Stranger might be, he felt a chill down his spine.

“I didn't know it was coming,” the English actor and star of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power tells Inverse.

The actor first read the script for the Season 1 finale with co-star Markella Kavenagh, who plays the kind Harfoot, Nori.

The big confrontation in the Season 1 finale.

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All season long, Nori has taken care of Weyman’s Stranger, an imposing being with no memory and no way to communicate. Fans have speculated about his true identity, including the possibility that he’s the greatest evil in Middle-earth: Sauron.

The finale opens on the trio of sinister white witches who have stalked the Stranger for several episodes. They finally corner him and claim to know that his true identity is, yes, Sauron.

Reading those pages, Weyman says he felt a change from within.

“I was reading it with Markella, and we both looked to each other and our eyes glistened, because it was so cool, weird, and exciting,” Weyman says. “I felt all the goodness that I'd experienced with her playing Nori all being blown away, like a wind blowing through me. All the goodness was being replaced by dark embers.”

Of course, The Rings of Power had more tricks up its chainmail, and there are still questions about the Stranger’s identity to be answered. Inverse caught up with Weyman to unpack the new direction his character is heading, both literally and thematically.

Spoilers for The Rings of Power Season 1 finale ahead.

After a whole season of speculation, Daniel Weyman’s enigmatic Stranger is revealed to be a wizard. But what kind, exactly?

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In the Rings of Power season finale, Weyman’s Stranger is confronted at a vulnerable moment. The witches call him Sauron, ending weeks of speculation.

But as the episode continues, it’s revealed the witches had it wrong. By the end, there are glaring hints that the Stranger is a wizard — “istar,” in Elvish — and possibly none other than Gandalf.

Weyman says his character’s identity will still loom over Season 2, when the Stranger and Nori journey across Middle-earth to learn his exact origins. But now that he can speak and move without restrictions, he feels like a new character.

“Nori’s going on this journey with a slightly new character,” he says. “What is speech going to give us? Is that going to come with memory? Of the agelessness a wizard should have? How does wisdom come through?”

Weyman says a critical attribute for all wizards, wisdom, is an unknown for the Stranger.

“Has he got any wisdom yet?” he ponders. “There are a couple of lines where they feel like they’re touching wisdom. But is wisdom coming through veiled memory?”

At the end of Season 1, The Stranger and Nori embark on a new journey that Weyman says Season 2 will explore.

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The Stranger’s physicality is also important, as everything from his posture to his gait will transform. “He’s been quite hunched,” Weyman says. “How will the fact he’s taken this choice to walk a particular path change how he moves? How he’s able to harness the energy he might need next season? I think we’re at a really exciting place.”

While fans might want to look to the future, Weyman says there’s a lot of depth yet to be discovered in Season 1. “I'm gonna go back to episode seven,” Weyman says, considering it a turning point.

“He’d been kind of cajoled into trying to fix this tree, not knowing what he’s doing, and it goes wrong. He sees on everybody’s face betrayal, distrust, hatred. I think he leaves with a sense that, no matter how hard he tried with Nori, it hasn’t worked. As he leaves, he has all these conflicting feelings, and that takes him to quite a dark place.”

Weyman says his character’s disillusionment makes him susceptible to the witches’ influence. Even though he’s not Sauron, he easily could have turned to their side, if not for Nori still believing in him.

“When Nori comes up to the Stranger and says, ‘You’re here to help,’ he doesn't believe it. He doesn't want to hurt her anymore. But then it's like she says, This is the end of how far I can come with you. It was important for him to see somebody with agency saying, ‘I'm not at your every whim. You have to do this for yourself.’ That is what lands. As she walks away, he sees her bravery and her strength. I think that bit of jigsaw is what the Stranger needed.”

Despite quoting one of Gandalf’s iconic lines, Weyman says he didn’t reference Sir Ian McKellan’s performance. “I had five or six film references from the showrunners,” he says.

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Weyman adds that using the witches’ rod was another way for the Stranger to grow.

“Suddenly there’s a conduit for this energy that is not himself,” he says. “I think he’s struggled all season. By being the conduit himself, the energy had to go through him to get somewhere, and it’s too much. He needed this divining rod. He’s not generating the power himself. He’s used himself, and it’s been extraordinarily powerful. So when he gets that staff, that feels right, he’s able to use this energy for the first time in a much better way. For the first time he feels like he’s on the right track.”

The use of the word “wizard” was an intriguing addition to the Stranger’s origin story. Weyman’s character could be Gandalf, or maybe a Blue Wizard, who appeared during the Second Age. Whoever the Stranger actually is, he at least has a sense of where to go.

“When ‘wizard’ finally comes out of his mouth, his dialogue changes,” Weyman says, “He’s suddenly able to speak more. It’s a different accent. I think it’s all come back a little bit. He feels empowered now to go on this adventure.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 1 is streaming now on Prime Video.

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