Dónal Finn tells us about joining The Wheel of Time as Mat Cauthon

The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time /

The Wheel of Time turns, and actors come and pass. In this turning of the Wheel, called season 2 by some, Dónal Finn will portray the rogue Matrim Cauthon, after actor Barney Harris departed the series partway through filming season 1.

Finn joins a huge ensemble cast in The Wheel of Time season 2, including Rosamund Pike (Moiraine), Daniel Henney (Lan Mandragoran), Josha Stradowski (Rand al’Thor), Marcus Rutherford (Perrin Aybara), Zoë Robbins (Nynaeve al’Maera) and Madeleine Madden (Egwene al’Vere). There are a lot of major players in The Wheel of Time, and Mat is among the most important. Recasting such a crucial character is no easy task.

Back in June, before the SAG-AFTRA strike, we caught up with Finn and his co-star Marcus Rutherford ahead of the season 2 premiere. We asked the actor what it was like navigating the recast of this fan-favorite character.

The Wheel of Time season 2

Mat and Liandrin will share multiple scenes in The Wheel of Time season 2

“Naturally, if I stopped and I thought about it I could’ve dwelled on the challenges,” Finn told us. “But I think in the moment of saying ‘yes’ and stepping in there was a sense of acting kind of mindlessly, it was such a whirlwind experience of kind of coming into the job that it allowed me to work really instinctually with the scenes that I was getting into.”

Finn says that part of what made his transition so smooth was how supported he felt by the cast and crew. “My first days on set were with the phenomenal Kate Fleetwood who plays Liandrin, and our director on those episodes was Thomas Napper,” he recalled. “And I think they were so supportive, and I think they understood that we all must approach those scenes as a rehearsal for a play, because you know, so much of them are set in the same space and we could kind of run them chronologically…and I think gave a great kind of basis, you know, for starting out.”

Kate Fleetwood as Liandrin in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video / YouTube
Kate Fleetwood as Liandrin in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video / YouTube /

It also helped that there’s a wealth of material about Mat out there to draw from, both in the 14-book series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson as well as the first season of the show. The actor framed Mat’s season 1 arc as “backstory” in order to help him understand where he was going in season 2.

“Ultimately, the character for me was coming from so much of the season 1 scripts that allowed me to kind of use those scripts as a backstory for the character to plot out, you know, how he gets to the point that we meet him in season 2, and justify the choices that kind of bring him there,” Finn said. “And to pad that out with so much of the source material, like the color and the shade and the qualities that make Mat who he is.”

"I think there’s something lovely about that, there are correlations between season 1 and season 2 Mat, but I think that speaks to how brilliantly vibrant and clear his ethos and his way of looking at the world is."

You can catch Dónal Finn’s debut as Mat Cauthon on September 1, when the first three episodes of The Wheel of Time season 2 drop on Prime Video.

Next. Rand will become “really dark” on The Wheel of Time. dark

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