“When in doubt, Elanor Brandyfoot, always follow your nose,” The Stranger tells the young Harfoot in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’s Season 1 finale.
The line is almost identical to what Gandalf (played by Ian McKellen) tells Pippin in Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring, leaving many wondering if The Stranger — who was revealed to be an Istari — is the famed Grey Wizard. Adding to speculation is his friendship with Nori and the other Harfoots, which feels reminiscent of Gandalf’s relationships with both Bilbo Baggins and Bilbo’s nephew Frodo.
But does Daniel Weyman, who plays the Stranger, also see the parallels? According to the actor, The Stranger had a “more visceral relationship” with the land and water and fire, and Nori was “interacting with him as if she were another one of those things.”
“His relationship with Nori, certainly in the beginning, is as if she is an energy of this world that he comes into,” he explains. “I didn’t really think about those overtones of the later work or all of that, but it’s lovely if people get resonances.”
The reveal that The Stranger is an Istari came as a surprise to some — including the wizard himself — but a key clue to his identity lay in his tattered robe. “I don’t know whether people have noticed, but the costume changes slightly over the course of the season,” Weyman notes.
The Rings of Power team went with the idea that the cloth was self-healing, practically living off The Stranger’s presence. “The fact that they were surrounding The Stranger meant that they subtly changed and altered themselves,” he shares. “It’s like they all got pulled in, and so it goes from being a very big, wild costume to being more of a costume of an Istari.”
Season 1 ended with The Stranger and his Harfoot companion staring down a new adventure. They didn’t know exactly where they were going, only that finding the stars was extremely important.
“When you get that moment of ‘Follow your nose,’ that’s a moment of almost putting their arms around each other just going, ‘This is our adventure. This is us going off and doing this together,’” Weyman says. “It’s a great place to leave it.”