Jan 15, 9:48pm
Can't discount Celebrimbor as initial 'foil' villain tho...
Mawle was exceptional as the evil Inspector Shine on RIPPER STREET. He is one of those actors who steals every scene he is in making himself the focus of it. If he is playing Sauron, it is a stroke of genius.
This is a genuine possibility if (as seems quite apparent to me from map & various other little hints), they are relying heavily on the Second Age account in the History of Galadriel and Celeborn in Unfinished Tales.
Celebrimbor is a very 'ambiguous' personality in Tolkien's writings, and I feel sure they'll go with the standard version of him being Feanor's grandson, and thus partly under the 'curse' or at least the shadow/memory of it.
This would be partly why he is so intent on healing the scarred lands of Middle-earth, given his family's role in the ruin of Beleriand in the War of the Silmarils in the First Age, as an idealistic, utopian endeavour.
But he is also thoroughly ambitious, and there is the implication of jealousy in the UT narrative about his unreciprocated love for Galadriel.
He then goes on, under Annatar's influence, to orchestrate the coup of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain (in this UT version I'm almost sure they'll be relying on), seizing power in Eregion and overthrowing Galadriel and Celeborn, forcing the former to flee to Lothlorien through Khazad-Dum.
Celebrimbor then forges the Rings of Power.
Of course, when he learns the truth about Sauron he seeks out Galadriel in remorse and gifts her Nenya, the Ring of Adamant, before being brutally murdered by Sauron.
He would thus be a villain of great pathos and sympathy from the audience, but the 'coup' would be a truly villainous act.
I see Annatar as being like Shakespeare's Iago in Othello. Everybody (pretty much except Galadriel & Gil-galad) trusts him unfailingly, he seems so moral, but he's mixing & playing everyone around him whole time like chess pieces. I don't think they'd portray him as a villain or Sauron right off the bat, so I expect a foil antagonist early on.
Observor ran an independent last November that correctly got all the audition names right (later leaked), it also said: "Mawle is said to be playing Oren, a villain who can also evoke a deep sense of pathos built around a wounded and fallen nobility. Though the character is middle-aged, Oren will possess a certain degree of physicality and project a sense of timelessness.""
This could apply to either Sauron or Celebrimbor - but on balance I think even the originally penitent Sauron with the idealistic intent still wouldn't elicit 'pathos' (sympathy) from the audience - he's still more like Iago, a manipulator and sociopath (even if, originally, for "the greater good"). Charming & persuasive, not coming across evil, but I'm not sure about 'pathos'. Albeit as Annatar he would come across as charming, but I still don't see him as "wounded" - Celebrimbor seems like the more conflicted, wounded person, bitter and ambitious in equal measure.
Annatar, I'd never have personally thought of as "middle-aged" since he needs to be seductive for the ever-youthful Noldor Elves of Eregion (but 'a sense of timelessness' could be indicative). Eldien (Morfydd Clark's Galadriel) is described "as a complex, unique and formidable young woman in her mid-20s who possesses an eternal quality and a strong physical component", so timeless/eternal could simply mean Elven, although I doubt he'd be middle-aged looking if an Elf (Tolkien said this only happened through severe stress, if I recall).
To be fair, two of the main scriptwriters (Hutchison & Shang) from their Twitter feed seem to like console games, so they might be influenced a little by the "older/middle-aged-looking" Celebrimbor of the Shadow of Mordor games.
(This post was edited by Althoun on Jan 15, 9:50pm)