Amazon’s Wheel of Time series continues to gain momentum. The other day, the show’s official Twitter account announced that four new actors had been cast in key roles. Fans are beyond excited, and for good reason. Some had speculated that these characters — the False Dragon Logain, the Ogier Loial, the gleeman Thom Merrilin and the peddler Padan Fain — would be cut for the show, but not so.
The recent casting helps put to bed any fears that the show isn’t going to be a faithful adaptation. If we’re being honest, we know there’s a ton of material from the books that won’t make it onscreen, and that’s alright. The Wheel of Time series is 14 books strong, complete with a massive collection of characters and lots of side plots. There was some fear that Amazon wouldn’t truly adapt the series, but rather create a new version of it.
However, the casting of fan favorite characters like Loial and Thom tells us that showrunner Rafe Judkins and his team are sticking with the story given. These four new faces aren’t truly essential to the story — they come and go quite often in the books — so casting them indicates that Amazon is determined to get the details right, as well as the broad strokes. It also makes us excited to hear about more casting announcements in the future.
So let’s get into these actors and whether they’re a great fit.
Rafe Judkins: “I am in love with @AlvaroMorte. I cried real human tears in my office when I watched his performance of his first scene. He’s gonna break you.”
Logain might have been the most important casting decision of the four. Judkins has said that Logain will play an expanded role in the Amazon series. What that means is up for debate, but it can be assumed he will become involved with the story around the third or fourth episode.
Stories float around the Two Rivers about the “False Dragon,” Logain. When readers first encounter him, he is caged and bound for prison but still regal as a king. He stands tall with dark hair settling on broad shoulders. People have heard stories of murder and destruction at his hands. He is a man who can channel the One Power, and in the stories, these men always go mad and die.
Judkins: “Loial’s always been a character I was excited/terrified about because of how perfect the actor has to be to pull off what’s required. Hammed is so good that when his first audition came through, every single producer on the show e-mailed back within 5 minutes that he was the one.”
If you don’t know Loial, don’t worry, you’ll come to love him soon enough. Loial is a member of a human-like species, known as Ogier, with an intense desire for peace and obtaining knowledge. These creatures are also famous builders. They’re kind of like a cross between J.R.R. Tolkien’s dwarves and elves.
With “fists as big as hams,” legs like tree trunks, a broad nose, and peculiar tufted ears, I’m interested to see how the show will pull off Loial. Hammed Animashaun measures in at 6’3, yet Loial reaches a height of almost 10 feet in the books. His most flattering features might just be his low voice and demeanor, so fans are hoping Hammed has a voice like “honey poured over thunder.”
Since we are a ways away from any teaser trailer, there has been anticipation for any clue regarding costumes or special effects. Casting an actor for Loial at all tells us there will probably be makeup and prosthetics involved. The Mandalorian is currently having huge success with Baby Yoda, a character brought to life in no small part with the help of puppeteers. It also gives us an idea of the how the show might adapt one of the more prevalent monsters in the series, Trollocs.
Judkins: “Ye of little faith :) Sometimes it takes a minute to find someone who’s absolutely perfect to play a character as important as Thom. I was actually in an old Inn with him this afternoon to witness a gleeman performance and let me tell you he is something special.”
Thom Merrilin should show up pretty early on the show. He is a traveling performer known as a “gleeman.” He can juggle, somersault and sing, but he is also knowledgable and a mysterious figure. Like the rest of our Emond’s Fielders, he’ll become entangled with the likes of Moraine, a sorceress of the Aes Sedai.
In the books, he is a white-haired man with a lean build, and he travels with a wildly colorful patched cloak that always seems to flutter in the wind. Yet the most marvelous thing about Thom might just be his tremendous mustache. To be honest, I was hoping for heavier whiskers from actor Alexandre Willaume, but the makeup department will take care of that.
Judkins: “Johann! He was actually the very first shot of the show, riding his cart into the Two Rivers. And the way he stepped off that cart and took in the town will make you smile and shiver simultaneously in the way only Padan Fain can.”
Padan Fain is a peddler, traveling from town to town, bartering and spreading news about world events. He was always going to be a tough role to cast, but Johann Myers is a great choice. There was a small glimpse of him at the table reading, but now it’s been confirmed.
In the books, Pedan is a skinny fellow with lanky arms, a beak nose, and a wicked smile. He arrives in Emond’s Field at just the right moment. Things are starting to come together in the Two Rivers.