Who is Adar in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?

Adar in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
(Image credit: Amazon)

Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 7! Turn back now if you haven't caught up on Amazon Prime Video! 

Adar may not have much of a presence in the latest episode of The Rings of Power but, when he does show up, he is part of the birth of Mordor.

So, mission accomplished? Not quite. We're still wondering what Adar’s ultimate goal is, as well as what's next for the first season’s Big Bad. Below, we dig into Adar – everything the show has told us about him, the fan theories, and the surprise Hollywood inspirations behind the original character.

Who is Adar and is he secretly Sauron?

On recent evidence, Adar is probably not Sauron. In the show's sixth episode, he leads an assault on Ostirith but is later captured after Halbrand fells his horse. In an interrogation, Adar then tells Galadriel that he was the one to kill Sauron. It could, of course, be a misdirect. But Adar was in no position to lie when he spun his tale.

There's further evidence to back that up. Earlier in the series, Adar winces when called Sauron, heavily implying that he's not the main villain. Now we know he's probably not even a servant of his. Adar also has a serious god complex and plans of his own, having made several references to wanting to be a god and casting darkness over the whole of Middle-earth. He even tells an Orc, while baking the creature in the sun, that he will get rid of the sun so that they may run free. Scary.

Here's what we do know so far: Adar (played by Joseph Mawle) is an elf corrupted by Morgoth, known as an Uruk. He now leads a legion of Orcs (his "children") in a crusade against the Men of Middle-earth, culminating in the battle in the sixth episode.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, the first Orcs were once Elves who were tortured and mutilated by Morgoth. The word "Adar" also means "father" in the Sindarin tongue, and it would make sense for him to be one of the first Elves mutilated by Morgoth and Sauron – a father to the Orcs who will one day ravage Middle-earth.

He also managed to seek out that spooky sword that Theo held and used it as a 'key' to unlock a barrier in the Southlands. From there, water rushed down the mountain and flooded into the chamber of a dormant volcano, causing an eruption. 

The sixth episode also strongly suggests Adar and Halbrand have crossed paths before. While Adar doesn't remember the Southlander's true heir, it's clear that he recalls Adar. The villain may have even killed Halbrand's unseen wife and child. Or could Halbrand be Sauron in disguise and still (understandably) bitter over Adar's betrayal? Much to ponder as The Rings of Power enters its final weeks.

So, no, Adar is probably not Sauron, but his end goal (the destruction of Middle-earth) seems to align with the Dark Lord.

Is Adar Maeglin? 

One theory picking up steam on social media is that Adar is Maeglin, an elf who betrayed his people during the First Age and gave up the location of the city of Gondolin to Morgoth. There are several factors that line up with this idea, namely that Adar speaks of the land of Beleriand (where Maeglin was born) and that he speaks the Elvish language of Quenya. 

Maeglin was presumed dead after Morgoth's attack on Gondolin, but there's every chance he could have survived and been badly scarred – or even captured and twisted and tortured by Morgoth. After all, death isn't always the end in Middle-earth, though the name 'Adar' (literally meaning father) could also mean whoever Adar is predates the Orcs and, by definition, would also predate Maeglin.

Who plays Adar in The Rings of Power?

Joseph Mawle in Game of Thrones

(Image credit: Sky / HBO)

Adar is played by Game of Thrones star Joseph Mawle, most recognizable as Benjen Stark in the long-running fantasy series. He has also had roles in films like In The Heart of the Sea and series like MotherFatherSon and Ripper Street. 

Mawle has yet to do any interviews for The Rings of Power, so there's not a whole lot we can read into from the man behind the villain. We do, however, have words from showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay at a recent screening where they discussed the inspirations behind Adar: namely, Claude Rains' Nazi in Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious.

"He's a villain who is absolutely ruthless and will kill the woman he loves, but it's all coming from a place where you understand why it is so important to him [not to get caught]," McKay said. "That doesn't make him a weaker villain; it makes him a stronger villain, because you understand why the stakes are so high. And we certainly aspire to a bad guy who has a motive that, from his point of view, he's the hero. One of the many reasons we like watching this bad guy is for that reason."

While we await his next step in the series, check out our theories on who The Stranger actually is, as well as our explainers on the characters in The Rings of Power and how old Galadriel is

Fay Watson

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.

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