Exclusive: Josha Stradowski is ready to play Rand al'Thor's biggest book moments on The Wheel of Time

I ask Josha Stradowski about his future playing Rand al'Thor on The Wheel of Time, and am utterly unprepared for his epic answer.
Josha Stradowski as Rand al'Thor in The Wheel of Time. Image courtesy of Prime Video/Kurt Iswarienko.
Josha Stradowski as Rand al'Thor in The Wheel of Time. Image courtesy of Prime Video/Kurt Iswarienko. /

The Wheel of Time stepped up its game in a major way with its sophomore season last year, delivering more magic, more emotional gut punches, and more jaw-dropping set pieces. Based on the beloved book series by Robert Jordan (and finished posthumously by Brandon Sanderson), The Wheel of Time is a classic of the fantasy genre. The series is an ensemble story with many compelling characters, but at its heart is Rand al'Thor, a shepherd who discovers he's actually a reincarnated hero named the Dragon Reborn, destined to either save the world...or break it.

Josha Stradowski plays Rand in the Prime Video TV show. By this point in the series, Stradowski has already been able to dip his toes into some of the thornier aspects of Rand's character, such as his dance with madness and resisting constant temptations to join the forces of darkness. But as any reader of The Wheel of Time knows, the best is yet to come for Rand's story; that include Stradowski, who is eager to play some of Rand's most iconic scenes from the books.

We spoke with Stradowski about The Wheel of Time seasons 2 and 3, his surprising relationship dreams for Rand, and some of the things that most excite him about Rand from The Wheel of Time books. Read on for our exclusive interview! (Edited for clarity and length.)

Josha Stradowski as Rand al'Thor in The Wheel of Time. Image courtesy of Prime Video/Kurt Iswarienko.
Josha Stradowski as Rand al'Thor in The Wheel of Time. Image courtesy of Prime Video/Kurt Iswarienko. /

WINTER IS COMING: Hi Josha, thanks for talking today! Thinking back on season 2, what's something that comes to mind as one of your most memorable days on set?

JOSHA STRADOWSKI: My gosh, it's so long ago. I think it's probably the last day of shooting because we were all together in Morocco on that tower. And it was weird because we still had some COVID going on during shooting of season 2...obviously the characters didn't see each other for a very, very long time, and so the actors didn't see each other for a very long time too. Like when I was working every day, some others were on a holiday somewhere on the beach and sending pictures while you were like, you know, doing night shoots in the snow in the Czech Republic. So it was very nice to like, all come together and finish the second season that everyone worked so hard on, and finish it together. That's probably my most special memory of season 2.

WIC: Like you said, everyone's back together now...so is there anyone you're especially excited to work with again, now that Rand's not off on his own quite as much?

JS: I'm very excited to work again with Natasha [O'Keeffe] (Lanfear), because their relationship is just so interesting. I hope they end up together. That's like, kind of impossible because, you know, she's like Satan...and you can't marry Satan, that's not a good idea. But she's the only one that really understands him, I feel like at times, and that is the thing for Rand. [There are] not so many people that he can be fully honest to, or completely understand him because he is also the Dragon, and everyone has an idea of what he needs to be. And she's one of the very few people that actually just lets him be, and also she is the one that leaves room for every part of him, and also the darker parts. And the same for her. Like, I think Rand shows that she doesn't only have darkness in her, but also a lot of light. I'm very excited for people to see that in season 3.

WIC: I know we can't really talk much about season 3; you're working on it right now. But in a word or a sentence, if Rand's arc in season 2 was about kind of all these people having different ideas about what he should be, and accepting that he can get help from his friends even if he was resistant to it at first, what would you say his arc is about in season 3?

JS: I feel like season 3, he's finally facing it. As an audience, we finally get to see why Rand is the Dragon. Not only see, but like feel it, you know, apart from the prophecies. He was born there and, you know, old bloods, that kind of stuff...the whole prophecies. We get to see why he actually is the Dragon. And that also means being the most dangerous man alive, probably. Just the bits and pieces, you know. It's like...glimpses. That's a good word.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following question contains cryptically-worded SPOILERS for The Wheel of Time books. Proceed with caution, if you are avoiding such things.

Josha Stradowski (Rand al'Thor) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video.
Josha Stradowski (Rand al'Thor) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video. /

WIC: Back around the time of season 1, there was a quote floating around from you that was like, "Rand has one of the most incredible arcs in fantasy," which like...he does, no argument there. So it sounds like you've obviously read, I'm assuming some if not all of the books at this point. Is there any particular aspect to Rand that you've been really excited to play as the show has gone on?

JS: Weirdly enough, the moments I'm most excited about are the darkest moments of Rand. So it's the box. Also a scene later on with Min. There a lot of moments in the Last Battle. The scene he has with Tam.

WIC: Oh, that's one of my favorite scenes of the series. I can't wait to see you do that one.

JS: Or like...the last scene of Rand. [Gives a pointed look.] There are so many moments that I'm like [exhales] very excited...but I guess first thing's first, the box is really what I'm very excited about. Those very traumatic moments for Rand that just define him in the series in such a dark way. That I think is a very interesting idea. Every time something like that happens, I go, "How is he coming back from this?" Like how far can they go until...that's the sick thing with Rand, he stands for hope. It seems like he always keeps on fighting, but at times, you maybe think, "No, this is it now. This has been too much." And that starts with the box, and with Min that goes even further, and then with what happens in the Last Battle and all that stuff...it's heartbreaking to see so much sacrifice on every level. And I guess as an actor that's like what I wish for. But that's far away, you know, we'll see what happens. [Laughs]

WIC: Oh man, that's some exciting stuff though. Rand, he really does go through it. Which I could totally see how as an actor that would be very exciting, it's some really good material.

JS: Yeah, it's just there on the page. It's perfect.

WIC: I think we've got time for one more question, so we're gonna end with a light one. If you were going on a world-spanning quest like the characters in The Wheel of Time, which three characters from the series would you want to travel with?

JS: Oof. That's a good question. Okay, I think it would be...it's nice to have a dog. You know, some unconditional love. It's nice to have some fun as well...to have someone that brings the messiness to life...so I think Padan Fain. And then the third one is...you know...who is the third one? Maybe like...no, it's gotta be Tam. It's gotta be Tam.

WIC: Alright, so we're looking at Hopper, Padan Fain and Tam. That is a chaotic travel group, I love it.

JS: Amazing. That's an amazing mix. It's so diverse. [Laughs]

WIC: Josha, thank you so much for talking today. It's been a pleasure. Best of luck with season 3 and beyond.

JS: Thanks, man.

The Wheel of Time Season 2
Josha Stradowski (Rand al'Thor) in The Wheel of Time season 2. /

You can see Josha Stradowski as Rand al'Thor in The Wheel of Time season 2, available now to binge on Prime Video. If you enjoyed this interview, don't forget to check out our other post-season Wheel of Time cast interviews with Zoë Robins (Nynaeve), Natasha O'Keeffe (Lanfear), Ayoola Smart (Aviendha), and Kate Fleetwood (Liandrin).

2023 was an epic year for Wheel of Time fans. Hopefully sometime this year the Wheel will turn and bring us a release date for season 3 and a renewal announcement for season 4. If there's one thing this conversation with Josha Stradowski drove home, it's that he's ready to act out some of the biggest scenes of the series. We can't wait to watch and nerd out about those scenes with you when the time comes.

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