Mary here, your resident Wheel of Time nerd. Last time I checked in with the blog about the Wheel of Time, I shared my dream cast for Amazon’s new series, and before that I talked about how I was enjoying the series, which I’m reading for the first time. Currently, I’m on the fourth book, The Shadow Rising, and still slowly making my way through the series. There are only 14 books, so I’m sure I’ll finish. One day.
To discuss the new casting news, I’ve called in resident Wheel of Time expert, Todd, to help me wade through all this excitement.
Josha Stradowski as Rand al’Thor
Mary: Stradowski is relatively unknown, but he’s been in some Dutch TV shorts and things like that. He’s definitely got a Rand look to him, in my opinion, and it’s probably a wiser casting choice to go with him instead of who I originally suggested for the part, KJ Apa (of Riverdale fame). Stradowski looks plainly, traditionally handsome in a way that really works for Rand. Rand is ostensibly the main character of the series, but he’s not the most interesting character. I think Josha Stradowski will do just fine.
Todd: Indeed! It is also important to note that he looks noticeably different from basically everyone else that has been cast so far for Emond’s Field, which is crucial for Rand. I haven’t watched any of his TV shows, but judging from the pictures I have seen, he is very good at brooding, which is also crucial for Rand. Overall, I give this casting decision 1 thumb up (because the other hand has been cut off).
Marcus Rutherford as Perrin Aybara
Mary: I originally cast Beanie Feldstein in this role, hoping for nontraditional casting that reimagined the strong, steadfast Perrin as a woman (this made special sense to me since Perrin so respects the blacksmith’s wife). I was hoping for too much, I think, but I’m pleased with the casting of Marcus Rutherford as Perrin. He’s been in some movies, including Obey, a film about the 2011 London riots, but I haven’t seen any of them to judge his acting. He definitely looks like a Perrin, with a strong jaw and serious expression in many of his headshots. What I’m most excited about is that he’s not a white man, which brings some much needed diversity to the ta’veren crew.
Todd: I totally agree! It would have been very easy and sad for the producers of this show to go with an all-white cast, and I am so pleased that they did not do that. The Wheel of Time as a series is so unique because it does not merely adhere to a European fantasy ideal, and so it is heartening that the casting director seems to have taken that to heart as well. Also, Marcus Rutherford seems like he will be able to capture the look and feel of Perrin, and I can already imagine him swinging a hammer and doing other blacksmith-y things! 2 wolf thumbs way up!
Barney Harris as Mat Cauthon
Mary: *Sigh* If only casting directors would listen to me, an English PhD student, when making their decisions. Barney Harris has been in some films, like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, but he isn’t a household name yet. The Tor.com rundown of the casting decisions praise him for looking exactly how Mat is described in the novels, and while this is true, I still stand by Chance Perdomo as my ideal pick. Mat is a character that’s potentially easy to get wrong, I think. He’s funny, but he also has a lot of inner turmoil going on that might be hard to capture. I’m hoping that Barney Harris surprises me and delivers a stand-out performance. Perhaps it’s unfair of me to be judging him so harshly sight unseen, but Mat is my favorite character!
Todd: Mat is truly one of the best parts of The Wheel of Time, and I agree that Chance Perdomo would have made a great Mat, but luckily we still have more chances (see what I did there?) to see him on Sabrina. Barney does look a lot like Mat, and I have high hopes that he will be able to bring Mat to life in an interesting way. In a lot of ways, he will have the hardest job, especially in season 1, because of pLoT rEaSoNs. Still, I give this casting decision two extremely lucky thumbs up!
Zoë Robins as Nynaeve al’Meara
Mary: This is a casting decision I’m really excited about! Nynaeve is stern and headstrong, determined to save those people she cares about and dismissive of those she doesn’t care about. She’s one of my favorite characters and half of what is essentially a top OTP for me. She’s also just...a badass! Zoë Robins has experience kicking butt and taking names as the White Ranger in one of the latest Power Rangers series (Ninja Steel oooooh). Nynaeve is known for frequently tugging on her braids in frustration, and the Twitterverse has made some noise about how her official casting announcement photo features her in braids. I don’t want to go so far as to say that was a deliberate decision (braids are stylish and nice!) but it’s not not a deliberate decision, you know? I’ve got high hopes for Nynaeve and I’m excited about this choice.
Todd: The braids are obviously very important! I appreciate that the casting directors went with mostly unknown actors, as it will allow them to grow with the show (like another fantasy show you may have heard of, Game of Thrones), and this decision for Nynaeve is very exciting as well. Beyond the braids, the fact that Zoë Robins is a woman of color means that the show should do a great job of showing that fantasy worlds do not have to be made up of only white people (like another fantasy show you may have heard of, Game of Thrones, that failed to do so). I give this decision 2 thumbs-tugging-on-a-braid up!
Madeline Madden as Egwene al’Vere
Mary: Say what you want, but I kind of want to see the new Dora the Explorer movie, which Madeline Madden is in. Madden fits my vision of Egwene pretty clearly: young, darker hair, sort of angular features. Like the rest of the cast (that’s been announced so far), Madeline Madden isn’t necessarily a big name, but she seems like she’ll be a fantastic addition to the cast.
Todd: Madeline Madden doesn’t fit my personal vision of what Egwene looks like, but she manages to exceed my expectations for this cast. I am very excited about this show for a myriad of reasons, and I am really excited to see what this cast can do when they are all on set together. Also, heck yeah, that Dora movie looks like fun! I give this casting decision 2 thumbs-who-just-want-to-learn-more up!
Rosamund Pike as Moiraine Damodred
Mary: Wowowowow. I’m pumped for this addition to the cast. Rosamund Pike is bringing name recognition to the cast, in a way that I think is really appropriate. Moiraine is, in a lot of ways, the lynchpin of the group; she brings everyone together and maintains their paths in a significant way, directing where they go and what they’re doing. It makes sense that Rosamund Pike be the biggest name in the cast, and I’m excited to see her here. I’ve lamented the fact that we haven’t seen more of Pike since her role in Gone Girl. She was so good in that film, yet after that I didn’t see her in much. I’m excited that she’s back and in a role that allows her to show her range. Moiraine is cool, almost closed off at times, but she also has the capacity for intense compassion and concern. I’m curious if the show will look at things more from Moiraine’s perspective than the ta’veren boys.
Todd: The logline that has been released and the fact that Pike’s casting was announced first makes me think that the TV show will focus more on Moiraine, at least in the beginning. I love this casting decision. I have been a fan of Pike’s since the Keira Knightley-led Pride & Prejudice, and I think she can bring just the right amount of ferocity and kindness to the role of Moiraine. Plus, who doesn’t want to see the Girl who is Gone herself flinging fireballs at Trollocs? I give this casting decision 2 imperious thumbs up!
Mary: Overall, I think this is a great cast. It’s not who I picked, obviously, but no one really consulted me, nor should they have!
Todd: That’s true! When the casting decision was announced, I was filled with so much excitement, and now even more so than before, I cannot wait to see what happens when this show drops on Amazon Prime!