“Telling the Story of the Books” and Casting Bela: Highlights from The Wheel of Time Showrunner Rafe Judkins’ Twitter Q&A

For this week’s #WoTWednesday, The Wheel of Time TV series showrunner Rafe Judkins answered fan questions on Twitter! The short-form, rapid-fire Q&A lasted only an hour but has revealed plenty about Judkins’ vision for the series. While he couldn’t say if Amazon Studios has ordered a pilot or an entire season, he was forthcoming with thoughts on translating the magic system from page to screen, consulting with Team Jordan, and whether he’ll appear at JordanCon (“pencil me in”) or other conventions. And only a few WAFOs!

Read on for highlights from Judkins’ Twitter Q&A.



Making A Series for Old and New Fans

In your view, what is the heart and soul of this TV show? ie, Why will people (non-fans included) want to watch? (@dragonmount)

Rafe Judkins: To me, and the way I’ve pitched it since I first became involved, is that even though the world is incredible, the magic system one of the best in fantasy, and the gender dynamics are so fresh feeling, the thing at the heart of this are the characters.

So, I think those first three things are the things that may bring in first-time viewers, it’s the last thing that will keep them there :)


Handling Canon (Including the Game of Thrones Dilemma)

How closely do you anticipate the show to follow the ‘true canon’ of the books, or are you already planning on creating a parallel canon? Are you considering having any of Team Jordan on-hand as consultants through the process at all? (@ThreeIfBySpace)

RJ: I am telling the story of the books, but as with any adaptation to a different medium, there will be differences. Otherwise, what will people have to scream about after each episode? #ladystoneheart4ever

Considering all the fan questions Jordan, @BrandSanderson, and #TeamJordan have answered about the #WheelofTime over the years, have you studied that mountain of data not found in the books? If not, what’s your strategy to make sure you get all the details right? (@Theoryland)

RJ: I’m in communications with everyone on #TeamJordan, and will be even more so once we are further down the line. They’ve lived this and will be invaluable to me. I’m also the kind of writer who values all the data I can get, and then let it inform but not direct my decision making

What written resources besides the published novels are you utilizing (such as Robert Jordan’s archived notes, The Wheel of Time Companion, the comic book adaptations)? (@WinesprngBrothr)

RJ: Everything I can get my hands on!

How would you like to handle the prologue of EOTW, and the prequel scenes from New Spring? (@Bambi740977317)

RJ: I have plans for both of these, but you’ll unfortunately have to wait for the show to see :)


Character-Centric Questions, Including the Most Important Casting Decision

Who do you see in the role of Bela? (@christinibnini)

RJ: I am SO GLAD you asked this. I love Bela, and although we’re very far away from this, I already want to make sure that we have a consistent horse(s) to track her through the entire run of the show :)

Egwene is a divisive character among fandom (although my fav, as a fellow community organizer), what do you think is her defining attributes that you would want to bring out in the show? (@rileysweeney)

RJ: I’m obsessed with Egwene. I think, of all the characters, she faces some of the most dramatic/impossible choices in the series. And to me, characters you fall in love with are the ones who have to face these choices and come out stronger on the other side. She is going to rock

Who is your favorite character, and why is it Egwene? (@Thegreatestjen1)

RJ: This is my favorite question so far. I know it’s lame, but I honestly have too many favorites — Egwene, Aviendha, Mat, Nynaeve, Perrin, Rand, Tam — honestly I believe that when you’re writing you have to be in love with all of your characters, and now that I’m writing, I am ha

Will Logain’s story line be retained in TV series? And if yes, just interesting how you imagine this character? =) (@alishanda1)

RJ: I really like Logain and plan to not only retain, but expand, his role in series.

How much badassery do you think we can expect from the Mat vs Gawyn & Galad fight? (@itsmecaterpie)

RJ: I mean this question answers itself, doesn’t it? ;) (ie. badassery, obviously)

Will @BillyZane be reprising his role as Ishmael ? (@KMalfet)



Dream Location-Scouting

What would be your dream location to shoot the first season of the show? (@BrownAjah16)

RJ: The Lofoten Islands of Norway! But only because I just want to live there. I’m sure we’ll end up somewhere with some more diverse landscapes that better capture the breadth of the WoT world ;)


Translating the Magic from Page to Screen

How do you plan to write around the fact that the weaving of the power is so in depth but can’t really be visualized well on screen? (@Vumbug)

RJ: I’m hoping it can be visualized well on screen!

Have you written any Wolf Brother/Wolf Communication yet & how will it be represented (words whispered, images, etc.)? (@LycoPsycho)

RJ: This’ll be decided with the consultation of a director. But I think that using images to convey meaning might be very suited to TV :)

Does the idea of SFX impact how you write the series? Do you find yourself hesitating with certain ideas for shots/scenes based on awareness that they’ll be really complicated/expensive? As a literal gruesome monster, this concerns me. (@TrollocTalk)

RJ: Yeah, you have to be considering this at all stages of the process. Making a show is about making the right choices to deliver the best thing to screen, and so I’m already considering props vs sfx vs makeup vs vfx for everything.


Thoughtful Representation

WoT is controversial regarding how it handles gender/sexuality/mental health. My audience at WoTTalk has expressed concern on how these topics will be handled. Would you mind commenting on these concerns/how you plan to approach these topics? (@DanielBGreene)

RJ: I think the explorations of these topics is something important and I’ll be using a lot of advisors and writers around me to make sure that we tackle them thoughtfully.

Hi @rafejudkins what are your thoughts/plans regarding lgtbq representation in the shows? There is some in the books (pillow friends and such) & we know how much it matters to be represented in media. Thank you! (@TarValon)

RJ: I think that gender is such a key theme of the books, and discussing gender without a full representation of LGBTQ+ people would be a disservice to that discussion. Rest assured, their will be pillow friends out the wazoo.


The Look of the Series

Is @AmazonStudios planning to give the show the same scope and production value as HBO’s #GameofThrones, or #Westworld, or is this entirely a unique beast? Does Amazon realize the potential of this property? Thank you! (@glindsey212)

RJ: Regardless of budget, I will make sure that we are only executing on screen things that look as good as those shows do. The smaller the budget, the less of those things, but I think it’s important that the entire show feel real, grounded, and premium


But What Will It Sound Like?

i think music will be a massive thing for the show, i LOVE elder scrolls oblivion music, but…. listening to Metallica songs/lyrics…. (frayed ends of sanity,blackened etc) i think that suits too, any ideas on that front about what music to use yet? (@top10tam)

RJ: We’re still a ways from music decisions! A lot of that will be director/composer/music supervisor dependent. I like to hire people who are really good at their jobs and take their advice, so it may end up being different than what I think right now :)


The Power of Fans

Is there any way for fans to get involved with the show in some fashion? (@malkiersking)

RJ: I think being involved online is a great way to contribute to the show. You’d be shocked by how many showrunners/writers/executives/etc read posts for their show on reddit/twitter/AV Club and more. On past shows, most people would discuss fan reaction the morning after each ep


Read the entire Twitter thread here.


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