The cast and executive producer/showrunner Rafe Judkins gathered for a virtual New York Comic Con panel in support of Amazon Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time. The half-hour panel was presented on Friday, October 8, 2021 and included the premiere of a pivotal two-minute clip from the first season.
During the NYCC panel Judkins explained his approach to adapting Robert Jordan’s bestselling novels so that both the uninitiated and long-time fans can appreciate the series. “I think the book series is obviously massive, not just in terms of the length and the content of it but also what it means to people,” said Judkins. “Millions of people around the world read these books and had some kind of formative experience with them, something emotional – people that they read them with…I read them with my mom. I think the thing that I really viewed as my goal with bringing the series to television was to try to deliver the heart of the series to people.
I understand and accept that everyone watching the show will probably be like, ‘That person is not as tall as I expected.’ ‘That city is not the look that I thought it would have.’ You know, ‘They left out my very favorite storyline from the books.’ But I think if people can just see it up on the screen and feel like at its heart it feels like the books in that intangible way, then we will have done our job. And I think that does the job of bringing new fans to the show and to the world of Wheel of Time as well because if we can deliver what all these millions of people loved about the books, then I think it’s the same thing. People can fall in love with the show.”
Judkins describes Jordan’s fantasy series as the first to have a big ensemble cast with different point-of-view characters that allow you to go deep into their chapters. “It was the first fantasy book series where half the cast was women,” said Judkins. “Wheel of Time is really more inspired by Hinduism and Buddhism, and these Eastern philosophies. So, in our world reincarnation exists and the ultimate goal is not for good to defeat evil; it’s to restore balance to this world that’s out of balance.”
Judkins went on to explain that in The Wheel of Time world only women can use magic, a power referred to as channeling, but then quickly issued a disclaimer for that description. “We think… There is a very serious asterisk on that statement that people will learn about as the series goes on,” teased Judkins. “But it really did such a flip on the everything in the world of Wheel of Time, this idea that women have more power naturally than men.”
Judkins was joined on the virtual panel by cast members Rosamund Pike, Daniel Henney, Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, Zoë Robins, and Madeleine Madden.
Rosamund Pike (“Moiraine”) admitted she wasn’t a big reader of fantasy before joining The Wheel of Time cast but now appreciates the genre. “I know that traditionally any guide character in a fantasy world is usually a man. It was very intriguing to have this mysterious stranger who comes to town and changes the lives of people forever being a woman,” said Pike, explaining what drew her to the project. “I think on a sort of spiritual sense I felt it was the right time in my life to explore a sort of power outside of myself. I think the whole idea of channeling and tapping into something elemental was very appealing to me at this particular moment in my life.”
Pike said she’s never played a relationship between a man and a woman on screen that’s as fascinating as the relationship between Moiraine and Lan Mandragoran (played by Daniel Henney). She described their relationship as involving intense loyalty, deep trust, and an intense connection without a sexual or romantic aspect to it. “But it’s a fidelity and a love that is just as powerful as anything that we know from romantic attachment. That really interested me a lot,” explained Pike.
Asked about his reaction to the bond between their characters, Henney recalled discussing the relationship dynamic with Pike two years ago and both agreeing it involved exploring a new idea of what love is. “I think pushing the boundaries of love and seeing a new relationship on screen…how they know everything about each other, they care deeply for each other but almost like twins in a way,” explained Henney. “They can feel everything but there’s nothing sexual or nothing more going on.”
The Wheel of Time will premiere exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on November 19, 2021.
The Plot, Courtesy of Amazon:
The Wheel of Time is one of the most popular and enduring fantasy series of all time, with more than 90 million books sold. Set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists and only certain women are allowed to access it, the story follows Moiraine, 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.