If you are a fan of world-building fantasy dramas and just can't wait until Amazon drops its The Lord of the Rings series, have no fear...because The Wheel of Time is ready and waiting to fill that void for you. The book series of the same name is one of the most popular fantasy series of all time, having sold 90 million books.
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."
Shadow and Act spoke with series stars Pike, Daniel Henney, Zoë Robins, Madeleine Madden, Josha Stradowski and Marcus Rutherford and the show's massive world-building, it's future and much more.
"You make this thing in a vacuum in a way, but we've also made it alongside the kind of appetite that we've sensed from found of the books, which has been tremendously kind of galvanizing as we've gone along," Pike told us. "We felt their [the fans] support. They're willing this show well and that means a lot, but now we're aware I think that until you are actually on air, there's a lot that you still don't know and there's a lot to learn from the fan reception and we are already shooting season 2. And I suppose without being sort of stretched and stricken by the COVID scenario, we might have learned more about fans' reception to season one before beginning season 2, but that wasn't to be so I'm excited. We're nervous."
Pike also got candid about anticipating the fan reactions to the show, as the book series has a cult-like following.
"I don't feel it's a done deal that this will be embraced. I don't think you can be sure of anything in this climate the way audiences are taking on material, how discerning people are, how the expectations have skyrocketed as there is so much great TV. There's so much content and there's so much great content. So I've got everything crossed because I know what's unique about this show. I know that there are definitely elements as you talk about the world-building. I mean, Robert Jordan's world-building is like unbelievably good and it's only getting better as the seasons go on and as the books go on, but and I know there are elements that are totally unique."
Robins, who plays the fan-favorite character Nynaeve, specifically spoke about the character arc that she begins this season and taking on a role that so many people feel passionately about.
"What's been really beautiful about playing Nynaeve is that she does go on a very specific personal journey and that's with her realizing that she can't control much," she said. And with what's happened in the world the last 18 months, I think we've all come to that realization. So there's a big journey of hers of learning to let go. And we see what that looks like when she struggles against it [and] we see what it looks like when she finally leans into that. So that's something that's really beautiful that I think a lot of people can relate to."
The show has also pushed the needle even further when it comes to diverse casting in fantasy shows like this and others in the same vein.
"I mean, it's groundbreaking," said Madden. And I think that is something that is what sets The Wheel of Time apart from so many other massive, massive stories or series in this genre. Back when the series came out, I think it was very ahead of its time. And we've carried that legacy on today to contemporize it for a 21st century audience, whether that relates with race, gender, sexuality. I know for us, it's the dream of a lifetime and it's the job of a lifetime. But also that's what you can do in fantasy. There are no limits, particularly in The Wheel of Time. It's such an epic world and it is such a celebration of diversity and culture and I think this is a really important moment in our careers, but also in television to see such a range of diversity on screen.
The first episodes of Wheel of Time are now streaming on Prime Video. Watch the full interviews below: