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The Wheel of Time star says Rand’s arc is the “most incredible in fantasy”

The Wheel of Time was one of Amazon’s biggest original series of 2021. Based on the massive 14-book series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, The Wheel of Time tells the tale of a group of teenagers who are whisked away from their idyllic country village to take part in a conflict against the Dark One. One of these young heroes is believed to be the Dragon Reborn, a reincarnation of an ancient hero whose last tussle with the Dark One broke the world. By the end of season 1, viewers learned that Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) is the Dragon Reborn, and he has a very long road ahead of him. Speaking on a “For Your Consideration” Emmy’s panel hosted by Amazon, Stradowski talked a bit more about how he got the role and Rand’s overall arc in the books, which he calls one of the “most incredible arcs in fantasy.”

Josha Stradowski (Rand) reflects on his journey to becoming Rand
Any time we talk about someone having the “best” character arc in an entire genre, obviously mileage may vary. But it’s pretty undeniable that Rand, at the very least, is one of the all-time most iconic characters in fantasy. Over the course of 14 books, he goes from being a wooldheaded farm boy to a literal messiah, struggling every step of the way with the immense weight of the destiny being thrust onto his shoulders. What was it like to get acquainted with a character like that?

“I did some research,” Stradowski said, “and it seemed like Rand’s arc was one of the most incredible arcs that a character can…well, in fantasy, basically.” Keeping a good sense of humor about him, Stradowski then cracked a joke at the expense of one of his fellow cast members. “And Rosamund Pike was in the project so I wasn’t sure if I should do it. But then I talked to [showrunner and executive producer Rafe Judkins] and decided to do it.”

Despite the fact that we all know Stradowski now as Rand, back when he was auditioning, even he was in the dark. “I got a phone call from my agent and it was The Wheel of Time and the character’s name was Writ Han,” the actor explained. “I auditioned for Writ Han in The Wheel of Time. I looked it up, I couldn’t find it, but it seemed very important. And then we auditioned, we did the chemistry read and then I got the call that I got to play the character. And it wasn’t Writ Han, it was actually Rand. And I looked it up and it seemed like a really important character.”

The snark is strong with Stradowski; he must have been hanging out with Matrim Cauthon that day. Stradowski wasn’t the only cast member on hand for the panel. Rosamund Pike, who plays the Aes Sedai Moiraine, recalled how difficult it was filming a powerful scene in Episode 6, “The Flame of Tar Valon,” where she says goodbye to her secret lover and Aes Sedai leader Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo). In the scene, Siuan exiles Moiraine from the White Tower by having her swear on the Oath Rod, a magical item which makes her unable to break her vow. The two planned out the moment ahead of time, but it didn’t make the ensuing emotional theater in front of the entire Aes Sedai court any less of a punch to the feels.

That said, Pike found the Oath Road itself particularly distracting. “There’s very little more difficult than two women having to make a dignified, important scene with a large, long phallic object,” she said. “You know, it’s an incredibly emotional moment, it contains beauty, elegance, depth, and it is all across this engraved dildo, effectively.” I can’t say I thought of that when watching the scene, but I doubt I’ll be able to watch again without this quote popping into my head.

About Talha Khan

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