Exclusive: Natasha O'Keeffe talks embodying Lanfear in The Wheel of Time season 2

We spoke with The Wheel of Time's Natasha O'Keeffe about her showstealing performance as Lanfear.
Natasha O'Keeffe as Lanfear in The Wheel of Time. Image courtesy of Prime Video.
Natasha O'Keeffe as Lanfear in The Wheel of Time. Image courtesy of Prime Video. /

Natasha O'Keeffe took The Wheel of Time by storm this season as Lanfear, one of the show's major new villains. Lanfear is part of a cadre of millennia-old magic wielders known as the Forsaken, crucial figures in The Wheel of Time mythos with ties to the Dark One and the Dragon Reborn. It was important for the TV show to do well by them.

And did it ever! O'Keeffe's performance as Lanfear brought the character to life in a way that blew away all expectations. Lanfear is a character with a deep, complicated history, and O'Keeffe's performance showed us those layers. The season began with Lanfear in disguise as a seemingly innocuous innkeeper named Selene who was cozying up with Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski). Halfway through, her true identity was revealed and things got interesting fast, with O'Keeffe's villain flinging fireballs, commanding darkfriends, and pulling Rand's strings. Plus, who can forget Lanfear's many costumes this season? It's clear that everyone involved had a blast working on the character.

We had the opportunity to speak with O'Keeffe about her turn as Lanfear, her favorite moments, costumes from season 2 and more. Read on for our exclusive interview.  (Edited for clarity and length.)

Natasha O'Keeffe as Lanfear in The Wheel of Time. Image courtesy of Prime Video/Jan Thijs. /

WINTER IS COMING: I have to start with a question that I'm sure you've been getting asked a lot, but I'm gonna ask it anyway…which is, how does it feel knowing that The Wheel of Time fandom pretty much universally fell in love with your performance as Lanfear this season?

NATASHA O'KEEFFE: Oh God, thank goodness for that though, because it's really lovely. It's really lovely to hear that. I haven't really gone about looking myself, but I've been getting a few hints from people here and there, and little messages sent, and [showrunner Rafe Judkins] was kind of passing on how Lanfear's been received, like "all good thumbs up." So, it's really lovely. Thank you. I hope that that can remain that way.

WIC: So obviously this is a character with a pretty complex backstory. How did you prepare for this part?

O'KEEFE: I think what helps is that in the development of this character and as we see as the episodes grow, is that because she has this switch and the transformation from Seline to Lanfear, it gave me sort of a journey to go on. And it already made her kind of multidimensional and layered, the fact that she's, you know, trying to bring in this this guy, she's a mysterious innkeep person in Cairhien. And she has her inner plots going on, but I'm not allowed to reveal or show them in any capacity. And Lanfear is essentially acting at that point and, you know, really believing she is Seline in order to portray that and not give anything away.

But I think also...I didn't read the books, I didn't know of the books before being part of this. And I've become educated in the world of The Wheel of Time in a massive way obviously, and learned that the whole Lanfear portrayal couldn't be just pure evil. It isn't about that. There's a lot of complexity going on with the rejection of Lews Therin, the Boring into the Dark One in her past in the Age of Legends...and yeah, there's a whole aim to have Rand as her love and bring him over to the dark side and everything...but I don't think she expected to kind of fall for him in the way that she meant to, maybe. She's doing it all over again, possibly. It's very, like, sticky almost. It's got what seems as one thing then is actually something else, with Lanfear.

WIC: Thinking back on this season, what was one of your favorite scenes to film and why?

O'KEEFFE: I loved having the scenes with any of the Forsaken. Like the scene with Moghedien at the end was definitely up there [as] one of my favorites. With [Fares Fares] playing Ishamael...they just have a language and a tone and a being with one another that's really fun to play.

But if I'm being honest...fireballs. Throwing fireballs. Innocent lovely people having their nice cups of tea and selling their home wares, and just not giving two shits for what happens to them. But that was fun because of all like the effects and stuff. It was quite live really, the whole fire throwing thing. They didn't just depend on post for that, so it all had to be very much played out at the time. So, you know, I kind of felt like I was throwing fireballs. She was ego-tripping that day, was Lanfear. Yeah, that was a lot of fun.

The Wheel of Time Season 2
Natasha O'Keeffe (Lanfear) in The Wheel of Time season 2. / a

WIC: So I think I will get in trouble if I don't mention this, but my partner loved your performance this season enough that she's thinking about cosplaying as Lanfear.

O'KEEFE: Which one?

WIC: She hasn't said yet, but I know she really likes the Tel'aran'rhiod costume. But that kind of leads into my next question: you had so many good costumes this season, what was one of your personal favorites that you got to wear?

O'KEEFE: [Lanfear's] so dramatic, isn't she? She knows how to make an entrance. [Laughs] You've just reminded me of that one. And, I really think your partner should go for that. That would be awesome. That was a good one.

I think...the golden sort of metallic outfit where she is throwing the fireballs and she's walking through the Ways with Moiraine and Lan and Rand. There's something about that costume...it sort of had all the elements of strength, it was panache, and also it was business. It was like all this combined [into one] outfit. And I think she looked pretty good with a fire torch, the cloak, just sort of draping over the arm. But yeah, I think that's probably my favorite outfit actually.

WIC: Awesome. That was a cool one. Okay, last question. Is there anything you discovered about playing Lanfear this season, about the character or maybe like an element of the character, that you're especially excited to explore more of in the future?

O'KEEFE: I think her vulnerability is what is interesting for me to explore and play. But what I'm hoping is that there's...I don't want to give anything away, but I think her vulnerability, there's room to explore that. Because that's what makes her, I think more interesting. You know, not just the villain really. And obviously, Moghedien coming into the mix, that's another area...she's greatly vulnerable right there. But in all sorts of ways, I mean politically vulnerable, she is definitely for that reason there...but also with love, and where she stands now. I think, yeah, she doesn't give up. [Laughs]

WIC: Natasha, thank you so much. It was such a pleasure to talk to you. Good luck filming on season 3.

O'KEEFFE: Oh, thanks so much. Hope you like it!

The Wheel of Time Season 2
Natasha O'Keeffe (Lanfear) in The Wheel of Time season 2. /

Watch Natasha O'Keefe as Lanfear in season 2 of The Wheel of Time, available now to binge on Prime Video. If you enjoyed this interview, make sure to check out our interview with Zoë Robins and check back over the holidays for more from The Wheel of Time cast.

Next. Next: 10 best fantasy and science fiction shows of 2023. 10 best fantasy and science fiction shows of 2023. dark

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels