Based on Robert Jordan's best-selling fantasy novels, The Wheel of Time is one of the most popular and enduring fantasy series of all time. Set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists and only certain women are allowed to access it, the story follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the incredibly powerful all-female organization called the Aes Sedai, as she arrives in the small town of Two Rivers. There, she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young men and women, one of whom is prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn, who will either save or destroy humanity. In anticipation of the release on Amazon's Prime Video on November 19th, Marcus Rutherford and Josha Stradowski, who star as Perrin Aybara and Rand al'Thor respectively, joined Bleeding Cool to discuss what fans can expect from the upcoming series.
I'd like to know how familiar you were with the original story heading into filming?
Josha Stradowski: For me, when I got the audition it was my introduction to The Wheel of Time. When I got the part, I just started reading those books and then getting into the script.
Marcus Rutherford: I hadn't heard of the books. Then I got the part and I realized how big that kind of community was and how many copies it sold and straight away read The Eye of the World, and The Great Hunt to have that prep ready for season one.
Do you prefer going into a role cold without much prior knowledge, knowing there's a vast history behind it?
MR: I think it's good because we have the scripts which were really rich and kind of gave you a real essence of the characters from the start. I think having both the scripts and the books to go between as an actor, provided you with a lot of material to hit the ground running of the story.
YS: I guess we had one month from hearing when I got the part to actually shooting. I think it was a month and we got the scripts. I at least tried to read as much as I possibly could. Then there was also the horse riding, the stunts, the archery, and the dialect to get down. So for one month, it was quite a lot. With the books, it was nice to know that we were going to do this for quite a while, so there would be more time to sink your teeth into all those books.
You play Rand al'Thor and Perrin Aybara. Can you describe your characters' relationship in the story?
MR: Yeah, I mean, there's this kind of like a trio of them, so there's Rand, Perrin, and Mat, the joker in between them. But Perrin is sort of the general giant, the quiet, thoughtful, introspective kind of friend who kind of is very considerate and thoughtful about everything he does. Then Rand, from my perspective, is kind of like the headstrong one.
YS: Then you have Rand, he is someone that really follows his heart and is willing to break his heart, also, to protect the people he loves.
Your characters could be the Dragon Reborn. Can you explain to newbies what the significance of that is?
YS: Well, it's a one-to-one adaptation of the book. We definitely take the fundamentals of the book and the essentials. I believe we do the books justice, but there are changes. Season one is all about who is the Dragon Reborn. I think what's really exciting is that it could also be a woman. It could really be one of those five of the Two Rivers.
MR: And I think as Moiraine (Pike) comes to the village to find that out and the audiences are looking to find out at the same time. She knows that it's going to be one of these young adults in this village. They find out they all have particular abilities throughout the season, kind of questioning who it might be, which is really fun to find out.
With immersive sets, special effects & costumes, what do you think fans are going to be most excited to see?
YS: All the sets. All the sets and all the different, even the little villages that they go to. I remember the first couple of days we entered this little village, we were only shooting that for two or three days, and they built that little village from scratch. That's when I realized what the scale was of this production and how much effort they put into everything. It's all the sets, the locations, we've been to Slovenia, Croatia and then also all the costumes. There's so much work, effort, time, and love put into every bit of this world of The Wheel of Time.
MR: It's so rich, the description in the books by Robert Jordan, that every kind of world, or every tavern or inn or town they go to is described so beautifully. It's really nice to see that much time and respect going into every place that the characters go to. They all have their own different look and culture and sometimes religion and belief behind them. You truly feel that they've gone to a completely different place, which is quite hard to do.