Note: This interview was conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike and contains spoilers for Wheel of Time Season 2, Episode 1
“Wheel of Time” star Rosamund Pike was looking forward to fans meeting the show’s new adversaries — the Seanchan army — during the Season 2 premiere of the Prime Video fantasy series, which returned with new episodes Friday.
“They’re invaders, they are incredibly hostile. They take over, they dominate and terrorize and some of our key characters who come into contact with them and become forever changed by the experience,” Pike told TheWrap. “There are passages from the books connected with the Seanchan story that I think fans will feel are faithfully represented, and they’re going to be thrilled by the results and there’s some fantastic acting in those sections too.”
She also teased a “reimagined depiction” of the One Power, adding she’s personally excited for the way in which the force adapts to the characters using it in the upcoming season.
Season 2 picks up from “a place of loneliness,” Pike said, with all of the characters on their own journeys and “separated in isolation.”
“We feel their losses, but we come to realize their resilience and the metal that’s in all of them that is beyond what we thought we knew,” she continued.
Her character, Moiraine Damodred, is dealing with the “agonizing loss” of her connection to One Power at the end of Season 1 — a deviation from the source material.
“She is beloved for this yin yang aspect of her character that is this incredible stillness and composure, versus this force that she can unleash when she channels the One Power. That’s what attracted me to her. It’s what I thought was most interesting to explore physically,” Pike said. “It’s about as big a trauma as can happen to Aes Sedai. It’s a loss that most of the women from the Aes Sedai couldn’t withstand. It also means that she no longer has the bond between herself and her warder to rely on, because that’s sealed with the One Power and without it, they can’t have it. So that line of silent communication that’s been her ally for the past 20 years is suddenly gone.”
That loss ends up forming a rift between Moiraine and Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney), whom she says are “both hurting and estranged from one another.”
“They hurt one another because they can’t communicate and Moiraine particularly tries to push Lan away,” she said. “He’s still willing to stay by her side, but she doesn’t feel worthy of that loyalty anymore. She feels she can’t honor her part of the bargain, which is that she can defend him to the death just as he will defend her.”
Pike said Moiraine is a character who “sees her own death in the every day.”
“I think she knows that she has a cause for which she’s prepared to make the final sacrifice, which is to protect the dragon reborn and see him ready to face the last battle. Any man who stays by her side in that mission looks death in the face every day as well, and I think she no longer feels that Lan should do that for her,” she continued. “So it’s a tremendously sad opening to the show, but we see extraordinary things of Moiraine. We see her real bravery that isn’t backed up by the One Power and that’s exciting.”
Henney praised Pike as a scene partner, noting the pair have “such a great connection.”
“We sit down and get down to brass tacks, we bang out all the scenes, we rip them apart, we tear them down, put ’em back together, throw stuff at the wall, try different scenes in different ways,” he told TheWrap. “We were a bit nervous with Lan’s heightened emotion, him lashing out at Moiraine as he does, but we found a nice place for that to live and with Thomas Napper, our director, found the right tone we think.”
He added that Season 2 feels like a “much more complete season.”
“The characters can breathe more and it’s got a little more traditional speed in terms of how fantasy goes. So we’re really happy with where Season 2 sits as far as aesthetically, how it feels, where we stand in the world,” he said. “It’s very much a formative season for all these characters, which is great because the actors get a chance to really spread their wings and try things… this is a season where we’re very excited for everyone to watch.”
In addition to Pike and Henney, “Wheel of Time” stars Josha Stradowski (“Gran Turismo”) as Rand al’Thor, Zoë Robins (“Power Rangers Ninja Steel”) as Nynaeve al’Meara, Madeleine Madden (“Dora and the Lost City of Gold”) as Egwene al’Vere, Marcus Rutherford (“Obey”) as Perrin Aybara, Dónal Finn (“Rogue Heroes”) as Mat Cauthon, and Ceara Coveney (“Young Wallander”) as Elayne Trakand.
The series was adapted for television by executive producer and showrunner Rafe Judkins (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” ”Hemlock Grove”) and is a co-production with Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television.
In addition to Judkins, Larry Mondragon and Rick Selvage of iwot productions (“Winter Dragon”), Ted Field of Radar Pictures (“Jumanji: The Next Level,” “Winter Dragon”), Mike Weber (“Jumanji: The Next Level,” “Beirut”), Darren Lemke (“Shazam!,” “Goosebumps,” “Winter Dragon”), Marigo Kehoe (“Outlander,” “The Crown”), Justine Juel Gillmer (“The Survivor,” “Halo”), Sanaa Hamri (“Empire,” “Lovestruck”), and Amanda Kate Shuman (“The Blacklist”) serve as executive producers. Pike serves as co-executive producer and Harriet McDougal, Brandon Sanderson, and Lauren Selig are consulting producers. .
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