The room was full and buzzing with excitement at New York Comic-Con, as the cast and crew for AMC’s newest martial arts series, Into The Badlands, made their way onto the stage. The actors in attendance included Daniel Wu (Sunny), Aramis Knight (M.K.), Marton Csokas (Quinn), Emily Beechum (The Widow), and Orla Brady (Lydia), along with Executive Producers Al Gough, Miles Millar, and Stephen Fung.
Check out the panel reveals, plus the Into the Badlands trailer below.
The hour long panel began with a clip from episode two. The short scene focuses on The Widow in a very gloomy, seedy club. Exotic dancers fill the room as she confronts someone who had been wasting her oil field profits at the club. The two have a very tense verbal exchange, trying to negotiate with one another, until The Widow realizes she’s being set up. A showdown ensues, in one of the most incredible fight sequences ever seen on television; knives thrown and lodged into body parts. The Widow slaughters about ten men in a matter of 60 seconds. She walks over to one of her victims, who’s about to die on the floor. She places her boot on his chest, finds out who he was hired by, moves the boot to his neck and snaps it.
Once the scene finished, the crowd in the room erupted in applause. Gough then began to speak about the series in general, saying that Into the Badlands is “set 500 years into the future, and in terms of AMC’s shared universe, this is way after the zombies have all died out,” which was received with great laughter from the audience. “The lands are split up by barons, who’ve outlawed guns to prevent uprisings. Sunny is the most feared Clipper (specialized fighters trained and hired by the barons) in the Badlands, having killed over 400 people. The Widow is the newest Baron to come on the scene and is shaking things up, causing headaches for all involved.”
The moderator then asked Millar what the influences for the creation of the show were, to which he replied, “I love martial arts films,” and listed many out. “So our idea was to create something of our own — taking marital arts and placing it in a new environment.” Gough then chimed in, further explaining their goal for the show. “Stephen (Fung) is a renowned filmmaker in China, so we were blessed to have gotten him for this show. Our fight coordinators have worked on everything from Crouching Tiger to Kill Bill. This is a system that Jackie Chan and Jet Li use. We wanted to bring that authentic Hong Kong martial arts style to America, but we couldn’t have done it without Fung and the fight coordinators.”
With an open question to the entire cast, the moderator asked “How much did you do of your own stunts and how much did you rely on the stunt people?”
Beechum responded first saying, “It was physically challenging, an incredible experience.” Knight quickly added, “They sort of developed different styles for us by watching us and figuring out what we’re good at.”
Wu was then asked to offer details on his character, Sunny. “When I started working on this project,” he explained, “I wasn’t considering myself for the role of Sunny. I had my ‘producer cap’ on. In the end, I fell in love with the character. As the season goes on, you see him changing as a person, and that’s what really sold me. It’s not the martial arts or cool stunts, but the development of a character.”
Csokas then talked briefly about his character’s relationship to Sunny. “It could be a father/son relationship; it could be friends,” he said. “There’s a sort of admiration between the characters — and these positions change, but there’s a deep seated loyalty and love between the characters. They’re put in all certain kinds of circumstances that test their loyalty — but there’s a sense of corruption that makes them go their separate ways.”
“In the series, there is no real black and white,” Knight began to address his character. “M.K. is the only character who really sees the world differently; he’s a kid.” Gough then jumped in, adding, “He’s the character who didn’t get the memo — he’s like Curious George,” which gained laughter from the crowd. “But there is sort of a dark secret within him that Sunny discovers in the first episode, and Sunny realizes that The Widow is after him.”
On the strong female characters, Brady states, “She’s (Lydia) being cruelly rejected by her husband, but she’s not going to go down lightly; however, I am a little jealous of Emily’s character, as I want to be fighting. But for the time being, I’m not.” Gough added that, “It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female in this show; nor race or sex — the only thing that really matters is strength or weakness.”
Similarly, Beechum discussed her character’s strength and how she helps other women on the show. “She trains other women to be skilled fighters, and tries to teach them how she’s become strong and in the position she’s in as a Baron. She’s a very inspiring character.”
When asked about the shows stylistic approach to a post-apocalyptic earth, Millar said that, “We spent a lot of time thinking about how the show should look and wanted to avoid the dusty, red, barren wasteland like that of Mad Max. We added in the lushes and jewel tones of nature — for us, it was about figuring out how this could be a new take on the future; and for us, that was about using beautiful colors. Red and green are big elements of the color palate on the show — the richness is what people will notice most.”
Speaking about Into the Badland’s fight sequences, Gough began by reassuring the audience that “the show is very unique. I think this is something you haven’t seen before and if you tune into the show, I think you’ll see there is much more to the show than just the fighting.” Adding how he felt about the fight sequences and story as a whole, Wu said that, “the nice thing about the fight scenes is that every fight actually helps the character and story to move forward; they’re not just fight scenes for the sake of fight scenes.”
Fung spoke about the smoothness of the combat in the show, saying, “It’s always been done that way in China; not just to look like a fist fight, but like a dance – very fluid movements.”
During the question and answer period of the panel, an NBC News correspondent got up to the mic and spoke directly to Daniel Wu, saying, “It blows my mind that there is an Asian male lead.” This garnered much applause and cheering from the folks in the crowded room. “How do you feel about being one of the only Asian male leads on television? Does it impact your decisions on how you portray yourself?”
“To think of things like that;” Wu began, “when has it been since we’ve seen an Asian-American lead on american television – maybe never — it takes a lot for AMC to do something like this. And that’s what this country is all about. I never saw something like that as a kid — but now, being that person that an Asian-American child can look up to, that’s awesome!”
The panel ended with the Into the Badlands trailer which you can view below.
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