Amazon’s adaptation of the contemporary fantasy epic The Wheel of Time has been a long time coming. Originally, NBC had acquired the rights to a television series in 2000, then Universal grabbed them for a movie in 2008, but of course neither came out. There was also a video game in the late 90s and even a TV pilot that was filmed mainly to allow production company Red Eagle to keep the rights.
Now there’s a live-action Wheel of Time, which will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on November 19. According to showrunner Rafe Judkins – a former Survivor contestant and a self-proclaimed big fan of the book series – some changes had to be made to the source material, which spans over 14 books.
Speaking to GameSpot, Judkins provided some insight into the show’s key moments and the reasoning behind the biggest changes, which are the aging of the Two Rivers Five: Rand, Egwene, Mat, Perrin, and Nynaeve. In the books, the main characters range from 15 to 26, with Nynaeve being the oldest and Egwene about to turn 16. In the Amazon series, they are a bit older, and for good reason.
“Had we aged the characters the way they were in the books, the show would register in a slightly different space than we experienced in the books when we read them,” explains Judkins. “It was in the same room as Lord of the Rings rather than Hunger Games or Shadow and Bone, so I think it was a very conscious decision to age the characters a few years and make the show so ‘mature’. ‘ if the books did what we read.”
The mystical and magical element of the series comes from the mysterious One Power wielded by the even more mysterious women known as Aes Sedai. Men were once allowed to become Aes Sedai, but the Power has since been infected and men who can “channel” her are hunted and feared.
In the series, the inner workings of the Aes Sedai are largely kept secret, but there is something of a stigma attached to being part of that sisterhood. When Moiraine and Lan are introduced in the first episode, as they enter the Two Rivers there is tension in the air, but Judkins said that in building the Aes Sedai’s place in the world it will differ from country to country .
“I think we’ve tried to narrow it down a bit more, so there’s not a lot of negative stigma attached to the show’s Aes Sedai. So we do see people know about them, but we don’t see everything, so they exist a bit more mysterious.We compared them as much as possible to how the Catholic Church functioned in medieval Europe and see how they are treated that way.You will see they are treated in different cultures and places that the approach of the Aes Sedai is a bit different. You see that in the first season.”
However, Judkins also warned that we will also see places where they are not as welcoming to the Aes Sedai.
At the heart of the story is Moiraine’s search for a creature, the Dragon Resurrected. In the world of Wheel of Time, reincarnation is at the heart of a universal belief that the Wheel will “reweave” certain souls into new bodies. The former dragon broke the world and his rebirth will ignite the beginning of the end of the world.
One of Moiraine’s potential dragons she’s trying to find is Rand al’Thor, an Emond’s Field farmer and one of fantasy’s greatest characters, so casting him would be no small feat. Judkins spoke about how actor Josha Stradowski got the part, as well as the casting process for the main cast.
“During the casting process, we each had [member] of the cast—who made it through the last part of the process—read out a scene from the pilot and who their character might become later on.” Judkins explained that it was to see if these actors “had the ability to make these characters come true.” [they need] to go. Josha was the one who provided both the Rand . delivered perfectly [we] meet in the Two Rivers at the beginning of the series and the Rand who he grows up and becomes.”
Earlier, Judkins explained on Twitter that the first season of Wheel of Time is not just the first book of the new series. It’s also Book Two and some crossovers. Still, there is quite a bit that could not be recorded due to time constraints.
“I mean, I could give you 40 minutes of interviews about things I’d like to record but can’t,” he said with a laugh. “But a lot of it was about trying to approach the adaptation of the whole series versus just the Eye of the World and a lot of it was about making sure we deliver an ensemble story and making sure we can create a world where we’re in the first place. season and make everything as spectacular as it should look.”
He added that most of the choices focused on that mindset or the overall decision to adapt the series — the feel of the series — as opposed to the feel of the first book for the first season.
“We also had practical problems with production,” he added. Still, Judkins hasn’t had time to feel the pressure of the first season premiere, as Amazon had already given the green light for a second season, and he currently owns both productions. “It’s interesting that we’re getting to this stage now as it’s ready to go out into the world,” he said. “It’s been so hard work to get the series over to get the money to make it… all I wanted was to bring this series to life and there are so many things to do to actually get it on the screen.”
“The fact that we’re already on season 2 and talking about potential seasons moving forward is all starting to roll off pretty quickly now. It’s really exciting considering the number of years I’ve been waiting for this moment,” he said. wound up.
Amazon’s The Wheel of Time premieres November 19.