The first major casting announcement for the upcoming Wheel of Time TV show on Amazon Prime was Rosamund Pike as Moiraine. Three weeks ago the Amazon powers-that-be gave us a huge announcement of five of the six main characters in The Wheel of Time. Yesterday they announced the casting for another major character, Daniel Henney as al’Lan Mandragoran. If you are wondering why I don’t include Moiraine and Lan among the six main characters, I explain that here. Lan is undoubtedly a major character, though, and will be especially important to the first season. This leaves only Elayne of the six main characters left unannounced (unsurprising, since she appears only briefly in the first book). Two more big casting announcements to look for are Thom and Min.
So what do I think of the announcement? Read on after the jump . . .
Generally speaking, I don’t like to give snap reactions. Inevitably, they are heavy on look, and the more important part of acting is the, well, acting. One big problem with judging the actors who will portray the villagers is that they are all very young actors. Daniel Henney, on the other hand, has a long-ish career, most notably appearing in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hawaii Five-O, and Criminal Minds.
First, though, the looks. In contrast with the Emond’s Fielder’s, few people will be surprised that they cast an Asian actor to play Lan given Borderlander culture. Henney is big enough (a muscular 6’2″), I think, to play the badass warder. He is good-looking enough to keep my Abercrombie/Shannara hackles raised, but then per the books Lan was a man who had women throwing themselves at his bed. Book Lan is definitely more rugged handsome than pretty boy, though. Henney is also a little young (39) to play Lan (roughly 45 at the open of the story), especially given Hollywood actors tend to play young. This, too, though, is unsurprising given his romance with the much younger Nynaeve.
Henney has the benefit of a lot of previous work we can consider. I mainly know him from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It wasn’t a good movie, but he acquitted himself well in his action scenes. Lan is a demanding role, although a lot of it will be bringing the appropriate gravitas and air of impending death to the role, and making that work with The Wheel of Time’s best romance (Henney has done some lighter fare as well). Check out a cut of his scenes in the Wolverine movie below.
In the end, I have no real complaints. I do have to say, though, that I expected they might try for a bigger name for Lan. Maybe they did and whiffed. Or maybe it is another character, say, Thom, who will be the big(ish) name.
As ever, I reserve judgment until the finished product drops. I am wishing for greatness but my expectations remain low.