What do all of these new creations have in common? Countless online fan theories trying to make the case that the Stranger, the Dweller, and Halbrand are all actually early versions of major Lord of the Rings characters. In the Dweller’s case, most people think this being is either Annatar, one of the Sauron’s many disguises Tolkien created for Sauron in his Second Age histories, or the show’s version of Saruman (although the White Wizard is supposed to be a good guy at the start of his life before being corrupted by the Dark Lord later in the Third Age). In fact, fans are seeing Sauron everywhere. Halbrand? He’s probably Sauron in disguise trying to corrupt Numenor and the world of Man — or maybe he’s the one who will eventually become the Witch-king of Angmar, a Man who was transformed into a Ringwraith after receiving one of the Rings of Power.
But what about the Stranger, another mysterious magical being with a fondness for Harfoots, tea, and nature? Well, some fans suspect he’s Sauron suffering from amnesia after crashing down on Middle-earth, which okay maybe, the character has revealed both light and dark sides throughout the season, although his first word to Nori was “friend.” The other possibility? We’re watching the origin story of Gandalf the Grey.
When we sit down with the cast of The Rings of Power at New York Comic Con, we have to ask Weyman what he thinks about all of these fan theories and how that has informed his experience working on the series.
“We had a really dark one today that was sort of ‘Wow, someone’s really gone there,’” says Weyman of the many fan theories he’s heard about the Stranger, including while talking to other outlets and fans at NYCC. “The ones I’ve heard about or read have been so well thought through. The people coming up with theories are really invested in the character and seeing resonances of beings that they either want the Stranger to become or that they think that he might.”
Even if he won’t say anything about the Stranger’s true identity ahead of the season finale this week, Weyman does want fans to know that he’s really enjoyed seeing how engaged viewers are with his character, including all the ways the myriad fan theories have continued to evolve over time as people learn more information.
“For me, it’s been really exciting and enjoyable to watch that progress from day one,” he says. “As soon as the first images were released, and then when we started to perform the episodes and they came out, I just love that every time an episode comes out, people add to their thesis. The documentation gets greater and that either helps or hinders their argument. It’s really quite inspirational to watch how people are responding to that character.”