The Wheel of Time Cast Talk New Cultures, Characters, and Locations in Season 2

The Wheel of Time Cast Talk New Cultures, Characters, and Locations in Season 2

Step aside The Rings of Power because Prime Video’s other, equally epic, fantasy series has returned. The Wheel of Time earned a second season renewal months before the first season had even aired, and now audiences will finally see the fruits of that labour when it returns this week.

The Wheel of Time adapts Robert Jordan’s beloved 14-book fantasy saga, which takes place in a world where women can wield magic, known as the One Power. In order to save the world, Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the female magic order the Aes Sedai, is sent to seek out the Dragon Reborn, a prophecised being who could destroy the Dark One, and finds five potential suitors in a small village.

Last season, the Dragon’s identity was revealed in the finale and the ensuing battle had major consequences coming into season 2.

Prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike, Gizmodo Australia spoke to cast members Josha Stradowski (Rand), Marcus Rutherford (Perrin), Zoë Robins (Nynaeve), Madeleine Madden (Egwene), Dónal Finn (Mat) and Ceara Coveney (Elayne), about their characters and how the world of The Wheel of Time grows even bigger in season 2.

The wheel weaves a new world

the wheel of time season 2
Image: Prime Video

Coming off a highly-rated first season, the pressure is on for season 2 of The Wheel of Time to outdo itself. However, this shouldn’t be a concern as the cast confirmed that season 2 is far larger and more expansive than the first.

“It’s just becoming bigger in terms of complexity, and in terms of it’s becoming more mysterious,” Stradowski teased.

“The world-building has just increased significantly from season 1,” Rutherford said. “I think all the departments kind of went up a level.”

“There’s new cultures coming in, which just means the scale has to get bigger,” he added.

Some of these new groups were teased at the end of season 1, with a fleet of menacing ships arriving on the Western shore. The ships belong to the Seanchan, just one of a few new additions to this season.

“The world is so expansive. There are so many cultures that have so many nuanced details to their attitudes, the things that they wear, the way they talk, and I think that’s something that we really get to explore this season,” Madden said. “There’s a lot of other cultures and people from those cultures that come into the fold.”

World travellers

the wheel of time season 2
Image: Prime Video

Like many fantasy series, The Wheel of Time makes use of stunning real-world locations to bring the otherworldly to life. Previous locations have included Prague, Croatia and Spain, many of which are revisited this season. However, the cast members pointed to a new filming location that stole their hearts in season 2.

“We went to Morocco for two months and that was really cool,” Stradowski said.

“Morocco was somewhere that just felt like such a special opportunity to be able to travel to for work,” Robins added.

Finn and Coveney are both newcomers to the cast of The Wheel of Time this season – with Coveney playing new addition, Elayne Trakand, and Finn taking over the role of Mat Cauthon – yet they both cited locations as a highlight of their time on the show.

“The exteriors that you can get in the Czech Republic are phenomenal,” Finn said. “We also got to film in Morocco and, again, when you’re in a vast and expansive exterior spot like that there’s very little left for the actor to kind of imagine.”

“I will never forget my first day on set… it was in the White Tower and it was just this kind of huge 360 [degree] White Tower set. I kind of expected maybe a green screen, but no, it was completely like you were in the White Tower and this space that I’d read about in the books. It was just incredible,” Coveney said.

The gang’s (not) all here

Image: Prime Video

Season 1 of The Wheel of Time saw the group journey together, for the most part, from the Two Rivers to the White Tower, until they eventually reached the Eye of the World. Things look quite different in season 2.

“Where we find them at the beginning of season 2, is they’re all split off into their own different circumstances and corners of the world. And, not having to rely on the strength of those around them, they now have to look within themselves to find that sort of inner strength,” Madden said.

With Moiraine also more or less out of the picture after losing her powers, this new status quo initiates some interesting pairings among the cast.

Rand was revealed to be the Dragon Reborn last season and subsequently faked his death as a preventative measure in case the One Power drove him to madness. This was a shift from Rand’s story in the books and lands him in an interesting place in season 2.

“I really liked that he decided to go away from his friends to protect them. He’s completely cut off from his roots, he’s trying to escape from who he is,” Stradowski explained. “And eventually he realises that that is not really possible.”

Despite their separation, Stradowski said that one of the most significant relationships in Rand’s story is still Egwene.

“Although she’s absent she’s also really present in his life. It’s interesting to see that they’re so far away from each other but still so connected,” he said.

the wheel of time season 2
Image: Prime Video

For Egwene, however, she has a new force to reckon with when she meets Coveney’s Elayne, a Princess who is sent to the White Tower to train as an Aes Sedai, and becomes a novice alongside Egwene.

“Elayne’s most significant relationship, particularly in earlier episodes, is with Egwene. Because Elayne is someone who hasn’t grown up with friends her upbringing has been pretty unconventional and so she is having this experience of making friends for the first time,” Coveney said.

“I think she’s she’s learning that becoming a queen and having friendships is something that can coexist.”

Elsewhere in the White Tower is Mat, who is very much on a path of self-discovery this season, according to Finn. Mat’s situation meant Finn got to share many scenes with the fearsome Liandrin.

“For Mat when we find him, he’s in isolation,” Finn said “Liandrin [is his] most significant relationship starting off and I was kind of spoiled because it’s Kate Fleetwood, who’s playing Liandrin.”

the wheel of time season 2
Image: Prime Video

Perrin perhaps has the most freedom to grow in season 2 as he goes cross-country searching for the stolen Horn of Valere. However, this brings him into contact with some dangerous new factions and interesting new characters.

“[Perrin] bumps into a couple of characters that I think are very significant for his development and understanding of who he is and understanding kind of his ethos around violence,” Rutherford said. “I think he matures quite a lot with this group.”

Fans of Jordan’s novels will no doubt be excited to see how these integral characters are brought to life, although the fandom is known to be fiercely protective of the source material and has been divided over some changes already.

As with any screen adaptation, Robins noted that “there are changes that need to be made” but that The Wheel of Time hasn’t sacrificed “who these characters are at their core.”

An update on The Wheel of Time Season 3

the wheel of time season 2
Image: Prime Video

It might seem much too soon to be thinking about season 3 of The Wheel of Time but, as was the case with season 2, Prime Video has already handed the show an early renewal.

While everything is in a state of flux right now due to industry strikes in the U.S., at the time this interview was conducted in June, filming was well underway on the next season.

“We’re shooting season 3 right now. I was shooting yesterday and it’s going really well,” Stradowski said.

He then hinted at what’s to come saying: “I mean, season 2 is great, but season 3. Wow. It’s just on another level really.”

That sounds like The Wheel of Time is definitely something not to be missed and it all begins when season 2 drops on Prime Video on September 1.

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