The second season of Prime Video’s original series, The Wheel of Time, hit the streaming service on Sept. 1. The intense follow-up features the return of prominent cast members, new characters, a peak into unknown worlds and unfolding shocking plot twists.
The Wheel Of Time is based on the best-selling fantasy series by Robert Jordan. The 14-book series was adapted for television by executive producer and showrunner Rafe Judkins (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hemlock Grove). Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television produce the dramatic fantasy.
Season 1 ended with the revelation of the young farm boy, Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski), learning he was the Dragon Reborn. He and the fellow chosen ones from Two Rivers are recruited by the Aes Sedai Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike). Along their journey, they learn how to tap into their magic abilities to help them fight against a rising evil.
Shadow and Act went behind the scenes on set in Prague, Czech Republic, to get an inside look at what viewers can expect this season.
The Wheel of Time sets itself apart from other programs in the fantasy genre with such a diverse cast. Women are the only characters that wield power. Their elite society, the Aes Sedai, comprises an all-female counsel led by the Amyrlin Seat, Siuan Sanche. British Nigerian actress Sophie Okonedo portrays Siuan Sanche.
The gender and racially diverse cast is an intentional effort, according to directors Sanaa Hamri and Thomas Napper.
“It’s a huge element of the show,” said Napper. The veteran director (Jawbone, Widow Clicquot, World on Fire) noted the series made the “crucial decision” to reach out to casting pools in different countries to ensure they had a diverse range of talent when selecting the cast. Although it’s great to see, Napper noted that racial diversity in casting has been an elephant in the room for the fantasy genre.
“I think long overdue. It’s been a while coming,” he added.
Hamri’s dedication to the diversification of the cast was rooted in her wanting viewers to see something that “reflects their image.”
“It’s really great for all of us,” she said. Thomas can see himself and the show, as can I, so we have equal equilibrium.” The Morocco-born creative has directed films such as Just Wright with Queen Latifah and Common and music videos for Jadakiss, Prince, Mariah Carey and more.
Hamri shared that representation in The Wheel Of Time starts behind the scenes.
“If we’re going to make a change, it comes from behind the scenes because once you have that philosophy and stand by it, you will have a more diverse crew.. and a diverse cast because the world is diverse,” she said. “That’s the real world. It’s not the other.”
Executive producer Marigo Kehoe (The Crown, Wallander, Strike Back) echoed the idea of various cultural representations as a big part of the original works, saying, “It was very important that we shared this world and the future. It’s the world that we live in.”
This season, production traveled to areas in Italy and Morocco. With these locations as backdrops, characters representing possibly indigenous ethnic groups are introduced.
The makeup and hair team paid particular attention to details, telling the stories of the diverse cast and new additions.
Emmy-nominated hair and makeup designer Davina Lamont led us through the “hall of hair,” explaining how even the coifs play a part in the diversity of the cast.
Characters in the series represent the Indigenous groups of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Intricate braids, textured hair and telling details allow fans to fall in love with the physical characteristics of each character.
Lamont mentioned some of the series’ staple characters, such as Alaana, who required bells weaved through her hair and Loial, the giant Ogier, who requires hours of makeup.
Jordan’s original works named over 2787 distinct characters, and Lamont has created looks for those listed within the two seasons. “I have over 400 wigs within my warehouses and sometimes I get less than a week to turn around the looks of a new character,” she said.
Having such a cohesive character aesthetic is also relevant in the costume department. Sharon Gilham helms the costume design team, ensuring each character’s looks are as individualized as the hair.
Gilham plays on the idea that characters can blur the realms of time. “You will see clothing that resembles medieval times and some that could be modern-day attire.” she said.
Color schemes also play an essential part in the series’ storytelling. This season, viewers will learn different colors representing class systems, ethnic groups and power levels.
As a dramatic fantasy series, the battle scenes take top billing in the episodes.
Veteran stunt coordinator Jan Petrina gives life to the script with thrilling fight sequences. While his 32 years of experience have allowed him to build a well-oiled stunt-performance team, Petrina prides himself on having the actors complete 90% of their stunts themselves. “We train them to do the actions without using a double,” he said. “The battle scenes are pretty active and intense.”
Season 2 of the Wheel of Time continues to bring to life impeccable storytelling and rich creativity while flawlessly incorporating diversity and cultural references into a fantasy world.
Episodes 1-3 of season 2 are now available on Prime Video. New episodes are released every Thursday.