The hardest scene for Morfydd Clark to shoot wasn’t her confrontation with Sauron. It was what happened right after it.
In the season finale of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Clark’s elf maiden Galadriel plunges into the Sundering Seas after learning the true identity of Halbrand, played by Charlie Vickers.
Clark, who was dropped into a large pool built on a studio set, dreaded the scene ahead of time. But when it finally happened, she was pleasantly surprised.
“I thought I was gonna really hate it. But I loved it,” she tells Inverse. “I felt so relaxed.”
Clark’s rosy experience is in contrast to the terror of the scene. The one who sinks Galadriel isn’t the lost king of the Southlands like she thought, but the evil Sauron in disguise.
Adhering to Tolkien’s saga, the Dark Lord adopts a false visage to trick the elves into forging what will be known as the Rings of Power. When Galadriel learns the truth, she submerges as a reminder of how she met Halbrand — lost at sea — and how the betrayal feels like drowning.
“He saved her, and she saved him. So they are bound,” Clark says. “Sauron still tries to enter her mind, and I feel that what would make an unbreakable bond is saving each other’s lives. I think that was a huge exercise of him showing his power, and terrifying her. It’s the first time we’ve seen Galadriel terrified.”
Clark says the scene had “a lot of prep” for safety. The actress was “tied to the bottom of the pool” and breathed into an oxygen mask between takes. “I was hearing everyone doing their jobs, muffled voices around me. Time passes really weirdly down there. I was down there for like, an hour and a half and it would feel like 20 minutes.”
It wasn’t an easy adjustment. The first plunge was terrifying for her, though it showed Clark just how safe she actually was.
“The first time I went, I had a complete freakout. Like, ‘Get me out!’ They cut the ties and got me out within five seconds,” Clark says. “That was probably the best thing that could have happened. I knew how quickly I’d be saved by these guys around me. But it was intense. Screaming underwater is also just very weird.”
“Nobody in Tolkien's world is meant to be alone.”
While all the characters in The Rings of Power contribute to the show’s diverse narrative, Clark’s role as Galadriel is one of the most critical. Described in Tolkien’s books as one of the fairest and downright coolest elves, Clark believes Galadriel’s grave misstep in trusting Halbrand will have consequences for the rest of the series.
“Nobody in Tolkien's world is meant to be alone. Everyone, even the orcs, they all have their people. But she was alone,” Clark says. “So she did things wrong. She so wanted to fulfill her vengeance that she made Halbrand whoever she wanted him to be. She was in a state where she would believe things easily if they aligned with what she wanted. She was easy to deceive.”
“There was barely anything saying that he was the king of the Southlands,” Clark adds. “He always said he wasn't. But it suited her because she needed to go to Middle-earth and she needed the Numenorians. That is the moment she makes a terrible mistake.”
Could Galadriel also be feeling romantic heartbreak? Throughout the first season, fans “shipped” Galadriel with Halbrand. Now that Halbrand’s true identity is known, fans may stop pairing them. Then again, maybe not. The internet is a weird place.
To Clark, Galadriel’s connection to Halbrand was more than just attraction.
“I don’t think it was necessarily romantic,” she says. “But whatever connection they had was enormous. Whether it was power, friendship, whether it was romance, it was just completely beyond what they felt before. And it shows with people shipping them.”
Either way, Clark doesn’t mind the shipping.
“I’m a fan of characters myself, I get it,” she says with a laugh. “I feel honored that me and Charlie managed to create that.”
At the end of Season 1, Galadriel helps her fellow elves forge the Three Rings by offering up her brother’s dagger, which she’s kept for thousands of years as a reminder of her quest for revenge. For Clark, it’s a sacrifice that epitomizes growth.
“I’m really glad that she melts down her dagger at the end,” she says, “because the quest for her is dangerous for others.”
Galadriel also gets something out of the deal. The white ring, Nenya, is destined to belong to her, and Clark confirms Galadriel will get to wear it in The Rings of Power. The show’s jewelers have even tailored it to fit her.
“I hope redemption awaits her.”
“Galadriel will interact with Nenya,” she says. “The rings will forever alter Middle-earth, and all those that wear them.”
On what’s in store for Galadriel in Season 2, Clark only alludes to Galadriel’s mistakes.
“I hope redemption awaits her,” Clark says. “She’s terrified by actually seeing the whites of [Sauron’s] eyes, and seeing how powerful he is.”
The Rings of Power is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.