Played by **Sir Christopher Lee**
Consistent accounts of Saruman’s earlier history appear in Appendix B to The Lord of the Rings, first published in The Return of the King (1955), and in the posthumously published The Silmarillion (1977) and Unfinished Tales (1980). All were written in the mid-1950s. Saruman, like Gandalf, was one of five ‘wizards’, known as the Istari, who arrived in Middle-earth 2000 years before the beginning of The Lord of the Rings. They are Maiar, envoys of the godlike Valar sent to challenge Sauron by inspiring the people of Middle-earth rather than by direct conflict. Tolkien regarded them as being somewhat like incarnate angels. Saruman initially travelled in the east; he was later appointed head of the White Council and eventually settled at Gondor’s outpost of Isengard. Fifty years before The Lord of the Rings, after his studies revealed that the One Ring might be found in the river Anduin near Sauron’s stronghold at Dol Guldur, he helped the White Council drive out Sauron in order to facilitate his search.
Unfinished Tales also contains various drafts not included in The Lord of the Rings that describe Saruman’s attempts to frustrate Sauron’s Nazgûl in their search for the Ring during the early part of The Fellowship of the Ring; in one version he considers throwing himself on Gandalf’s mercy. There is also a description of how Saruman became involved with the Shire and of how his jealousy of Gandalf grew. Another brief account describes how the five Istari were chosen by the Valar for their mission.
Tolkien described Saruman at the time of The Lord of the Rings as having a long face and a high forehead, “…he had deep darkling eyes … His hair and beard were white, but strands of black still showed around his lips and ears.” His hair is elsewhere described as having been black when he first arrived in Middle-earth. He is referred to as “Saruman the White” and is said to have originally worn white robes, but on his first entry in The Fellowship of the Ring they instead appear to be “woven from all colors, (they) shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered” and he names himself “Saruman of Many Colors.”
After the defeat of his armies, having been caught in the betrayal of Sauron, Saruman is offered refuge by Gandalf, in return for his aid, but having chosen his path, is unable to turn from it. Evans has compared the character of Saruman to that of Satan in John Milton’s Paradise Lost in his use of rhetoric and in this final refusal of redemption, “conquered by pride and hatred.”