Galadriel is, in many ways, an iconic Lord of the Rings character. Even in movies and books filled with memorable moments, hers really stand out, in part because they hint at a rich history and secret strength that we only ever glimpse. Galadriel looms large over the series, and she provides all of the narration in the films, which ends up being key to informing the story of the trilogy. On top of all of that, she’s played by the wonderful Cate Blanchett, who would go on to have an enormously successful career after she played the character in the original trilogy.
Galadriel is powerful, and she’s clearly quite wise as well. She’s one of the strongest creatures in Middle Earth, and she’s also described as one of the most beautiful. She reigns over the forests of Lothlórien, and provides key advice to Frodo and the Fellowship. Thankfully, she also does plenty of other things. Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Galadriel.
15. She’s Married
It speaks to Galadriel’s significant that her husband hardly figures into the picture. Still, it’s important to acknowledge his existence, even if it doesn’t have a huge impact on the overall story of Lord of the Rings. Galadriel actually rules over the land of Lothlórien alongside Celeborn. While all elves are relatively old, Galadriel is older than Celeborn. Galadriel was born before the first age began, and Celeborn was born in Doriath before it fell, which suggests that he’s at least 500 years younger than his wife.
While this age difference probably isn’t all that significant in the extended lives that elves live, it’s still interesting to consider, especially alongside the fact that Galadriel is much more well-known than her husband. He may not be as wise as his wife, but Celeborn is still considered one of the wisest elves in Middle Earth, and stayed in Middle Earth for a time into the Fourth Age before joining his wife in the Undying Lands.
14. She’s Not in The Hobbit Book
It’s a well-known fact that Peter Jackson extended the length of The Hobbit for his filmed adaptation. He attempted to create an epic story on the scale of his previous trilogy out of a book that’s relatively slim, and that meant adding extra story elements that were not part of the original text. One of those additions was Galadriel, who is part of the efforts to remove the necromancer from Dol Goldur in the film version of the tale.
Of course, Jackson was notorious for substantially increasing the size of the female roles from Tolkien’s books. Arwen’s role was significantly increased in the original trilogy, and The Hobbit was even worse when it came to female representation than The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It made sense for Blanchett to reprise her role for Jackson’s second trilogy, even if it meant that the length of each film was extended in a manner that many felt was unappealing.
13. Peter Jackson Was Worried Blanchett Wouldn’t Come Back
When Cate Blanchett first took on the role of Galadriel, she was a relatively young up-and-coming actress. Years later, when Jackson approached her about reprising the role, he was worried that her much more established status would make her hesitant to return to what is essentially a supporting role. After all, in the years in between The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy, Blanchett had won an Oscar and become one of the most respected actresses in Hollywood.
Still, Blanchett said that she was eager to return to the role, and argued that she could bring a new maturity to it. There are few actresses as versatile as Blanchett, and she was certainly up to the challenge of playing Galadriel a second time when the opportunity was given to her. In fact, Blanchett considers Galadriel to be one of her more interesting characters, and considering the gravity she brings to the role, it’s hard to argue with her.
12. They Used a Special Lighting Rig for her Eyes
Galadriel was always meant to have a very otherworldly quality. She’s among the most powerful elves in the entire realm of Middle Earth, and her power is enhanced by her beauty and her ethereal nature. To heighten this, Galadriel got an extensive amount of special lighting to make her look especially otherworldly. Perhaps the most impressive of these tricks had to do with Galadriel’s eyes, which were given extra care.
A special rig was designed to make it seem as though several beams were shining off of Galadriel’s eyes whenever there was a closeup of here. Typically, a single beam of light is used to heighten the eyes of character. Because Galadriel is filled with magic, Jackson decided it would be best if her eyes reflected multiple beams of light, which only heightened the sense that she was somehow different than the rest of the characters, even if it was only picked up subconsciously by viewers.
11. Tolkien Considered Her One of the Most Powerful Elves in Middle Earth
Although we don’t get a ton of glimpses at this idea in the movies, Galadriel is widely believed to be one of the most powerful elves left in Middle Earth, alongside Elrond. Galadriel’s power is so extensive that she’s able to reign over an entire wood, even while Sauron’s power continues to increase. Part of Galadriel’s power likely comes from her extensive past, and from the wisdom that she’s gained from it.
What’s interesting about Galadriel is her tangential involvement in the Lord of the Rings saga, especially considering her immense power. Galadriel’s refusal to take a totally active role in the series suggests that this fight is not hers to wage. That doesn’t mean she won’t intervene when it’s necessary. After all, she’s responsible for the elves’ involvement in the battle at Helm’s Deep, and their arrows likely kept the Uruk hai from completely overtaking the forces of Rohan.
10. Led Zeppelin Referenced Her Often
Galadriel may be a major player in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but she also shows up outside of the canon of the series. Tolkien’s books were widely read, and they apparently had some influence over the hugely successful band Led Zeppelin, who made repeated references to her in several of their songs. Even their biggest song, “Stairway to Heaven” may make reference to the powerful elf.
The lyrics “There walks a lady we all know, who shines white light and wants to show, how everything still turns to gold,” are particularly telling for some Lord of the Rings fans, who argue that the lyrics describe Galadriel and Nenya, her ring, which allows her to keep the forests of Lothlórien deeply magical. While the lyrics certainly aren’t conclusive, it’s widely known that Zeppelin’s lead singer Robert Plant was a lover of Tolkien’s work, and may have incorporated it into the band’s most popular song.
9. Lucy Lawless Was Almost Cast in the Role
While few would argue that Cate Blanchett was the wrong choice for Galadriel, she wasn’t the one director Peter Jackson initially wanted for the part. Instead, he was interested in Lucy Lawless, the actress who had portrayed the iconic Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess. Unfortunately for Lawless, she turned down the role because she didn’t feel that she could handle it when she was initially presented with the offer.
Lawless didn’t realize at the time how long the project would be filming, and she eventually realized that she likely would have been able to incorporate it into her schedule. Lawless would likely would have worked well in the role, if only because of the always intimidating screen presence. It’s hard to argue with Blanchett’s work in the role, though, which gives Galadriel the kind of ambiguity and hidden power that leaves a lasting impression long after she leaves the screen.
8. She Was Banished from the Land of the Undying
Galadriel was banished from the Undying Lands long ago through no fault of her own; for killing fellow elves, which she only did in self-defense. Still, she defied the orders of the Doomsayer of Valar, and so was banished from the Undying Lands. That’s why she’s still in Middle Earth; as a kind of punishment for the sins she was supposed to have committed in her life previously.
After she comes face to face with Frodo in Fellowship of the Ring, and Frodo offers her the one ring, Galadriel is allowed to return to the Undying Lands because she refuses his offer. In doing so, she also reveals to Frodo what would have happened if she took the ring, changing her form and launching into a monologue about the kind of terror she could unleash with her rule. Because she doesn’t accept the ring, she proves her worth, and that’s why she is allowed to go to the Undying Lands with Frodo at the end of Return of the King.
7. She Was Born Before the First Age
Galadriel is actually one of the oldest beings in Middle Earth. She was born before the First Age, which is where Tolkien’s earliest stories are set. The fact that Galadriel was born before even these stories occurred proves that her life has been quite long, and that she’s seen the rise and fall of many of the land’s greatest powers. One of these was the battle against Morgoth, an evil power with even greater strength than Sauron.
Galadriel, who was born in Valinor, has to be at least 7,000 years old at the time of the Lord of the Rings, which might explain why she and the other elves have a much more tempered view of the evil that is conquering Middle Earth. They understand that this kind of evil has come before, and likely will again. The elves are meant to watch events from afar, even if they can’t help meddling every once in a while. Galadriel’s age suggests that the War of the Ring isn’t the first great war she’s witnessed, although it may well have been the last.
6. She Has the Gift of Foresight and Can Read Minds
If you’ve seen any of The Lord of the Rings movies, you probably noticed that Galadriel doesn’t always move her mouth when she’s speaking. This is because she’s capable of communicating with other characters with her mind, and is able to understand them on a much deeper level as a result. Her conversation with Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring is suggestive of her power to see into the hearts of others, and she also has the ability at that juncture to show Frodo one potential future.
That future was pretty dark, of course, but it’s one of the few instances in which we actually see what Galadriel can do. She knows how hard the road ahead will be for Frodo and the rest of the Fellowship, and she is willing to provide some assistance. Perhaps her entry into Frodo’s mind also gave her the opportunity to give Frodo several gifts that would prove useful to him in his adventures, including some chain mail and a particularly useful light source.
5. Galadriel Has One of the Elves’ Three Rings of Power
In the very first moments of The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel explains how the present situation came about. Part of that story involves the forging of rings of power, three of which were given to the elves. Galadriel is one of these elves, and her ring, Nenya, gives her the powers of protection, preservation, and concealment from evil. Galadriel uses these powers to great effect, protecting the forests that she is guardian of from the watchful eye of Sauron.
This suggests that Galadriel’s magic, combined with her ring of power, make for a fairly potent force; one that could even be used to shield the Fellowship from the powerful and evil magic Sauron has at his disposal. While it may seem for a while like all hope is lost for our heroes, Galadriel’s ability to use Nenya, or the Ring of Water, to protect her forest is the first indication that good may overcome evil at the end of this grim tale.
4. She Destroyed the Fortress of Dol Goldur
While the War of the Ring may have ended when the Ring was destroyed and Mordor fell, there was still a significant amount of cleanup to do in the aftermath. In the days following Sauron’s fall, Galadriel and the elves of Lothlórien played a key role in the downfall of Dol Goldur, a massive fortress that doesn’t get much screentime inside of The Lord of the Rings.
There are few who would doubt Galadriel’s immense power. One of the few times that her power was on full display was when Galadriel destroyed the castle, and almost singlehandedly put an end to the remainder of Sauron’s rule over Middle Earth. It’s a real shame that Jackson decided not to give this scene a depiction in his filmed adaptation, as it would have given film viewers a sense of the incredible power that Galadriel had at her disposal. Alas, she remains a mystery in the world of the films.
3. She Gave Gandalf His White Cloak
After Gandalf faces off against the Balrog, he is transformed into Gandalf the White. A big part of that transition comes after Gandalf dies and is reborn with a white beard and hair. After his rebirth, Galadriel cares for him and heals his wounds. More importantly, though, she gave him his white cloak, which was likely instrumental in his transformation into Gandalf the White, or The White Wizard, as some call him in The Two Towers.
Of course, it’s this transformation that ultimately leads Aragorn and his company to believe that they are headed toward a confrontation with Saruman inside of Fangorn Forest. Ultimately, though, Gandalf’s return to the mortal plane was key to the toppling of Sauron, as it gave him new powers and allowed him to provide several moments of climatic assistance during two of the series biggest battles. None of that would have been possible if Galadriel hadn’t been there to help.
2. She Founded the White Council
The White Council was founded to counter the growing power at Dol Goldur. The group was originally founded by Galadriel, and included the bearers of the three rings of power bestowed on the elves – Elrond, Gandalf, and Galadriel – and the group’s leader, Saruman the White. Saruman’s leadership was questioned by Galadriel, who argued that Gandalf should lead the group. The White Council ultimately determined that the Necromancer in Dol Goldur was Sauron, although they didn’t initially act on this information because of Saruman’s hesitation.
Eventually, the group did banish Sauron from Dol Goldur, only to have him reappear in Mordor years later and begin to gather power. The White Council was adapted in The Hobbit films, where we get a sense of the power dynamics between the four powerful characters, and come to understand how tempted Saruman is by the power of the One Ring, and see how he will eventually turn against the other three.
1. She May Be More Powerful than Sauron in the Films
Although none could match Sauron at the height of his powers, The Hobbit films go out of their way to suggest that Galadriel may be more powerful than Sauron is in his present form. Of course, the elves are a generally peaceful race, and Galadriel very rarely unleashes her full power. Other powerful elves, like Elrond, also had a difficult time understanding her powers, as did sorcerers as powerful as Saruman.
During The Battle of the Five Armies in the films, Galadriel is able to disintegrate an Orc with her mind, and also seems to be in possession of miraculous healing powers which bring Gandalf back from the precipice of death. This kind of power is remarkable, and suggests that she may have surpassed Sauron in his weakened state. Whether she’s more powerful than Sauron or not, it’s abundantly clear from both the books and films that Galadriel’s power is difficult to overstate, and even harder to contend with.
Do you have any more trivia about the Elf Queen from The Lord of the Rings? Share it in the comments!