The cast (Daniel Wu, Nick Frost and Lorraine Toussaint) and creators of AMC’s Into the Badlands gathered together at this years WonderCon to talk about the latest season, the incredible fight scenes and working with a fake baby.
And check out Frost’s take on how he happy he felt when he learned that co-star Sherman Augustus was moved up to a series-regular!
You guys are gonna have a baby this season. TV is notorious for not liking babies. So, how is the baby going to fit into this season dramatically?
Producer: We have a baby. Daniel loves working with the baby. The baby, without giving too much away, the baby actually plays a very integral role in the season. It’s not just, “Oh look! Somebody has the baby” and then you never see the baby again. So, yeah, without spoiling anything, the baby plays a big role.
Lorraine Toussaint: And the fake baby is really, really, heavy. SO heavy!
Nick Frost: We actually had to invent a fake baby to have and then it was so heavy that we ended up cutting its legs off. So, now we have just a fake torso and a head. And we’re all happy because it’s a lot lighter.
For this upcoming season, how did you top your adventures and fights?
Daniel Wu: Well, first off, we’re in the middle of a war, so Baron Chau and The Widow are in a war, which definitely ups the stakes and we see the front lines of the war. Also, by introducing Pilgrim and Cressida, into this world we’re bringing in an entirely different sort of flavor than you’ve seen before and that’s allowed us to really delve deeper into the mythology and the sort of people with the dark eyes, which has allowed us to have a lot of variety in the fighting.
Producer: The first conversation Daniel and I had about this season, which is “How are we gonna just mix up the fights? What haven’t we done yet?” Daniel’s first fight in Episode 1 of this season is very brutal hand-to-hand, no wires. The first fight of the season with The Widow and Moon is very in the vein of “Crouching Tiger” and “House of Flying Daggers.” But then you also have a lot of comedy, as well this year. So we really … because we’re expanding the world, we’ve been able to expand the pallet of the fights as well.
Nick Frost: I think that’s kind of a Hong Kong thing too, to have comedy in the fight and I kind of love that aspect of it as well. Trying to find those little things. You can have a fight, if someone hits you with a chicken at some point you’re gonna take a bite out of that chicken, y’know what I mean? Kind of Hong Kong Fight Rules when it comes to comedy during a fight. It really adds something.
Daniel Wu: There are places within the fight that have a bit of drama after the comedy or whatever it is, allows it to breathe and that fight has its own character.
Nick Frost: There’s a fight scene in a marketplace where I use a dead octopus as nun-chuck. I kinda love that about it.
Can you talk about the character of Moon? He was left for dead last season.
Nick Frost: I think, personally, as well for me and Moon, played by Sherman Augustus, had actually a good time with him on the second season and there are some people you meet during your time on a set who are not only talented and fucking nice as a person, but he works hard. I think Sherman’s been trying a lot of his career trying to make in this business, so when you find out he’s coming back as a season regular, you think “yes!” It literally couldn’t have happened to a better bloke, because he fucking works hard, and he’s good, and he’s nice to be around.
Lorraine, can you talk about creating Cressida and what you needed to know about the show to get up to speed.
Lorraine Toussaint: I watched the first two seasons back to back and realized I hadn’t seen anything like this on television. And I’ve been wanting to get into this genre for the longest time and all I ever get hired for is doctors and lawyers and I really wanted to play dress-up and wield swords and do swordplay and fight and fly all the extraordinary things I do. So, I was really thrilled to come on-board.
And I didn’t have to do fight camp. There are three weeks of fight camp at the beginning of every year and then within the first week I was doing a fight! So, I realized that I really loved it and it’s not as hard as it looked and then it’s really much harder than it looks. And so, it’s kind of like being in the sandbox with these guys.
I like how you guys usually cast actors who have a martial arts background.
Daniel Wu: Well, it’s just made it a lot easier when you have someone who can actually do all that stuff and who has that foundation already. So, of course we have the fight camp where we train people but when someone comes to the table with that skill set, it just makes it a lot easier and then we can make even crazier stuff.
We create the fight based on the strength of the each individual actor, so if someone comes with broad pallet of tools like that, then it becomes much easier and much more fun for us to do something crazier with it.
What are some of your influences in martial arts movies?
Daniel Wu: Yeah, I’m kind of the more in that realm where it’s mostly Asian. I’m not really a Chuck Norris fan or Van Damme or as that kind of stuff or that era. I grew up in that era, the 80s martial arts American films but what really got my imagination going was the Wuxia Chinese films, right? And I think that’s the heavier influence on our show than, say, the American stuff. But mostly Chinese and then maybe Japanese samurai stuff as well.
Lorraine, when you get a script that doesn’t have a strong female character, what is your reaction to it?
Lorraine Toussaint: I send them back to my agent. I’m so not interested in those anymore and I’m mostly not interested in playing … I’ve gotten very, very spoiled and managed to play women who are very archetypal and only represent one thing. I want dimension and complexity and just interesting, interesting, interesting unpredictable women. I like the danger of unpredictability and spontaneity.
And Lorraine’s amazing in this season. What’s great about her and Babou [Ceesay] and Nick when he came, too is like, you gotta come into this world and be ready to play and just feel like you’re in it.
I remember when Lorraine shot her first scenes with Babou, I felt like, y’know, she snapped into this world, she came to play, we tried to write a character with real agency so that she was strong but strong in a different way than you’d seen. Again, we didn’t want to do another version of The Widow or another version of Chau, it’s like what can she bring to this world, and we developed a whole Azarian language which Lorraine learned.
Lorraine Toussaint: So, I think that’s the thing, too. When everybody comes to do this show, they really are all in and I think that’s, frankly, the appeal of our show because you’re like, “How would you like to uproot yourself and move to Ireland?” So, it’s just like, if we didn’t do something interesting I don’t think we’d get actors of this caliber, and we’re really grateful that they’re in the show and just help us to keep expanding the story.
Nick Frost: I think, to be fair though, part of the … for me anyway … part of the allure is that you, Allen, Miles are very good about giving you a bit of ownership over your character at the very least.
Lorraine Toussaint: Very much.
Nick Frost: So, I think once you have that, then, why wouldn’t you be all in? Because that’s up to you, what comes out is up to you what you put in is what you see on the screen. And you do not often get that that someone says, “What do you want to do? Is the script all right? What would your character do?” It’s kind of rare and great to do and I think it gets a lot of good stuff out of people because they give a shit.
Lorraine Toussaint: They’re not afraid of the hard questions. As you shoot them out some really tough questions and you get, “Hmm … let’s think about that, I’ll be right back.” And they come back and the answers are terrific, something that you can take and run with. That’s really exciting!
Into the Badlands is currently airing on AMC on Sundays at 10pm