Fans of late author Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series of novels have enjoyed the rollout of names set to star in Amazon Prime's fantasy series adaptation, beginning with Rosamund Pike's (Gone Girl, upcoming The Banker's Wife) Moiraine. Joining the actress are Madeleine Madden, Marcus Rutherford, Barney Harris, Zoë Robins, Josha Stradowski, Daniel Henney, Michael McElhatton, Alvaro Morte, Hammed Animashaun, Alexandre Willaume, and Johann Myers.
Taking the stage during their time at the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter press event, Amazon co-head of TV Vernon Sanders has an update on production – and it's definitely good news for fans. Confirming that production was "well underway", Sanders also revealed that they've seen some footage – and they like: "We love what we've seen so far." Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke seconded those thoughts: "We haven't seen the first cut, but the material coming out of production looks incredible."
With that said, those expecting "major breaking news" or footage are going to have to be a little patient. Sanders stated that the streamer has a launch window quarter in mind – but "it's too soon to say right now". Sanders continued:
"As you know these big world building shows take some time to craft. There will be news as the year progresses on the series. But we feel incredibly optimistic about the show."
Early in October 2019, series showrunner and writer Rafe Judkins (Chuck, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and the streaming service offered fans a look behind the scenes at a very special moment in production: the first time the cast and crew gathered for a script table read, from September 10:
Judkins signaled that Monday, September 16, was the first official day of principal photography – the same day that also marked the 12th anniversary of Jordan's (James Oliver Rigney Jr.) passing. In the following video, Judkins pays his respects to the late author in a way fans of the novels can truly appreciate:
— The Wheel of Time on Prime (@WOTonPrime) September 16, 2019
Uta Briesewitz (Westworld) is set to direct the first two episodes. Isis Mussenden is attached to the project at costume designer, with Karen E. Goulekas serving as visual effects supervisor.
Here's a look at a more detailed description of Pike's Moiraine:
The Wheel of Time is set in a sprawling fantasy world where magic exists, but can only be accessed by certain women. Pike's Moiraine is one of those women, a member of the powerful all-female organization known as the Aes Sendai. She comes to the small town of Two Rivers and embarks on a world-spanning journey with five young men and women. One of them is prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn, a being who will either save or destroy humanity.
While character descriptions for the series were not available, here is a look at the lines from Jordan's novels that were attached with the casting announcements:
Madden's Egwene Al'Vere:
"It was about a woman who would not bend her back while she was beaten, and who shown with a light for all who watched."
Rutherford's Perrin Aybara:
"It was about a man whose family was taken from him, but who stood tall in his sorrow and protected those he could."
Harris' Mat Cauthon:
"It was about a hero who insisted with every breath that he was anything but a hero."
"It was about a woman who refused to believe that she could not help, could not heal those who had been harmed."
Stradowski's Rand Al'Thor:
"It was not about me. It's never been about me."
Henney's al'Lan Mandragoran:
"I swear to stand against the Shadow so long as iron is hard and stone abides – to defend the Malkieri while one drop of blood remains. I swear to avenge what cannot be defended."
McElhatton's Tam Al'Thor:
"The choice isn't always about what you do, son, but why you do it."
Morte's Logain Ablar:
"He is dangerous, child. Caged, with Aes Sedai to guard him every minute, he is still as dangerous as a wolf."
"Loial, son of Arent, son of Halan."
Willaume's Thom Merrilin:
"It was about a man who remembered stories and who took fool boys under his wing when the smarter move would have been to keep on walking."
Myers' Padan Fain:
"Fain was always one to carry bad news quickly, and the worse, the faster. There's more raven in him than man."
Here's what author Brandon Sanderson (who completed the series after Jordan's passing) had to say about the series adaptation and the changes being made by the writers' room:
"I found the mast majority of these decisions to be excellent choices–things that will give the show its own soul, but still in line with the feel and tone of the books. I can't say for certain, but my instincts say the fanbase will in general respond to them positively. There are a few I offered suggestions on, and we'll see.
I can't say too much, not just because of NDAs, but also because the show is very much still in flux as Rafe makes decisions on how he wants things to go. As the alterations go, I'd say they fall in line with positive changes made in bringing LOTR to the big screen–things that were altered in order to make the films work for the medium.
Overall, the thing I'm most impressed with is Rafe himself, who really seems to be guiding this show with a balance between love for the source material and his own creative vision. I'd much rather get this, personally, than something like the first two Harry Potter films–which felt like someone trying to bring the books to the screen with exact scene-by-scene recreations.
I'm certain there will be polarizing decisions made by the team, but the changes are coming from a good place, and I really like most of them. And let me tell you, the first of the two scripts I read was sharp. Excellent dialogue, nuanced characters, great pacing. The second of the two was in a rougher shape, so while still good, obviously was still undergoing revisions."
Amazon Prime Video's The Wheel of Time is executive produced by Judkins, alongside Rick Selvage and Larry Mondragon of Red Eagle Entertainment, Ted Field and Mike Weber of Radar Pictures and Darren Lemke. Harriet McDougal serves as a consulting producer. Produced by Sony Pictures Television and Amazon Studios, The Wheel of Time will launch in over 200 countries and territories.