As the coronavirus pandemic shuts down TV productions across the globe, the cast and crew of Amazon’s The Wheel of Time have been flown out of Prague, where they had been hard at work filming season 1 of the forthcoming Robert Jordan adaptation.
But this doesn’t mean production has halted completely. Instead, it looks like various departments (including the now-virtual Writer’s Room and VFX) are trying to do as much as they can while in self-isolation. Over the weekend, showrunner Rafe Judkins did a Q&A over his Instagram Stories, where he answered fan-submitted questions, gave an update on production, and dangled a few juicy morsels about the show. Here’s everything we learned!
- Judkins says post-production and filming is done simultaneously. Pre-COVID-19, he was “prepping 2 episodes, shooting 2 episodes, in post on 4 episodes and writing Season 2 simultaneously.” Currently, he’s still working on VFX and the season 2 writers’ room remotely.
- As a consulting producer, Wheel of Time editor Harriet McDougal (who is also the wife of Robert Jordan) has been on-set in Prague, reads all the scripts, and sends Judkins notes. The showrunner says “She and Maria [Simons, Team Jordan’s editorial assistant] are hugely helpful for maintaining the truth of the series and always keep me honest when it comes to things that change too much.”
- Author Brandon Sanderson “reads all the scripts and gives notes,” and gave some pre-filming advice when he was in Prague.
- In terms of the CGI-to-practical ratio, they’re trying to do “as much in-camera as [they] possibly can.”
- The hardest thing about production is the “physicality,” since the characters visit over 20 villages and cities in the books. “To try to do that is physically impossible for the show,” wrote Judkins, “so most of the work we do in the room is geographical, figuring out how to condense the story and move it through places we can physically create.” Judkins later specified that this applied somewhat to the sequence where Rand and Mat are inn-hopping on the Caemlyn Road.
- The cast-members are reportedly nailing the Old Tongue.
- When asked if he’s had to make any “painful” cuts to scenes or characters, Judkins simply said “Yes.”
- They have a “for real sword master” on the show who “walks into every room and tests out everything as a weapon.”
- The horse actors are apparently great and “downright sexy,” especially Mandarb and Aldieb. However, they’ve already “had to have two Belas. It turns out a horse for riding on film is not the same as a horse for pulling a cart and SHE MUST DO BOTH.”
- Fans may want to keep an eye out for more casting announcements, but a trailer is still a long ways off.
What We’ll See On-Screen
- Min, Elayne, and Aviendha will NOT be merged into one character. “I’m not going to combine huge characters like that,” Judkins added. “Maybe sometimes a minor character folded into a major one to make better use of our cast but nothing nutso.” As for whether Min and Elayne will show up in season 1, Judkins replied “TWWaTWW,” which is short for “The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills” and appears to be Judkin’s version of Robert Jordan’s famous non-answer “RAFO” (Read And Find Out).
- In another post, however, Judkins confirmed that Min is in season 1.
- Any original characters created for the show are “inspired by characters in the books or a number of characters combined.”
- Judkins says he’s “been giving a bunch of VFX folks long diatribes about channeling, weaves, threads, earth vs. air, etc and the early stuff has started coming in. It looks FUCKING AWESOME. I screamed when Rosamund started channeling.”
- An iconic on-screen moment that stood out for him was Rand and Tam walking through the Westwood.
- There will be one Aiel who shows up in season 1, and “the one you see will shock you.”
- Judkins says he’s “trying to get tall folks” to portray the Aiel, but he’s “less concerned with height and more concerned with acting ability.”
- You will hear the phrase “the Eye of the World” in season 1, although Judkins did not confirm or deny whether we’ll see The Eye of the World‘s prologue on-screen.
- His favorite set so far has been Fal Dara and his favorite prop is the Great Serpent Ring.
- He has not cut Narg the Trolloc.
- Loial will be portrayed as an Ogier, not a human.
- “I genuinely think we are cutting less than most people think. When I see people ask questions like, ‘are you cutting Min?’ It blows my mind. I don’t know how you do an adaptation without some of these characters. I think it’ll be more of the smaller stories you’ll miss. We can’t have Rand and May travel to many many inns on their travels across the countryside for instance. It’s just not producible. So that will be more of what you miss I think, and the books always exist to read for that :).”
- The show is intended to be understandable for viewers who have not read the books.
Amazon had yet to announce a premiere date for The Wheel of Time pre-coronavirus. However, a Balance interview with Rosamund Pike published in early March (although not the actress herself) mentioned a 2021 release date. Currently, there’s no word on when the series may debut.