‘The Wheel of Time’: Josha Stradowski on Rand’s New Path to the Eye of the World

The Wheel of Time Season 1 Episode 7
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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers from The Wheel of Time Season 1 Episode 7, “The Dark Along the Ways,” so unless you are caught up, turn away like it’s the Blight up in here.]

Welp, we got a big answer this week, didn’t we? Of course, readers of “The Wheel of Time” book series knew it was coming (imagine if they had changed this detail!?), but for newbies who have just started the journey into author Robert Jordan’s realm, it’s a pivotal moment.

Since the series premiere, Aes Sedai Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) has been trying to figure out which of the Two Rivers kids was prophesied to face-off with the evil Dark One. Her mission: Deliver this Dragon Reborn to the Dark One at the Eye of the World. And now, after seven episodes, several pit stops and a few misdirections, it was revealed that orphan ginger hottie Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) is the lucky fella destined to either save the world or screw it over royally. Here, Stradowski expands on Rand’s looming identity shift and what it means for the rest of his pals.

OK, so it’s out there now! Should we have seen this coming?

Josha Stradowski: Yeah. I think that’s true. You know, I do believe from the start there were things in his behavior, like Rand was the one that was taking responsibility in many situations. He was the one that was questioning Moiraine at times, standing up to her. And he was always seeing what’s going on and seeing what was going on with Mat (Barney Harris) and trying to take care of him, actively trying to reunite with his friends. But it’s moments later on in the seasons where there are small hints, like recognizing Dragonmount and Loial (Hammed Animashaun) being convinced he was an Aielman because of his red hair. A big one is, of course, the fever dream of [his adoptive father] Tam. And I think the biggest even is his channeling! That changes everything and when Moiraine says that whomever goes to the Eye of the World, who’s not the dragon, would die there, that forces him to finally face the truth of who he really is.

And the way they frame it with his birth.

I know.

The Wheel of Time - Josha Stradowski

That was brutal. I spoke with Daniel Henney last week about the fact that his character Lan is an orphan and so is Rand. Do they end up sharing any kind of bond with that?

That’s a really good question. I’m just thinking about the books now, but I don’t… Well, they’re not touching that in Season 1, for sure. But that is a really interesting thing. Yeah.

Now, the Ways you all were trekking through, that was a practical set and very dark.

That’s what we did for like a week. Walking in the dark in the Ways. [Laughs] And they built the Blight, too. That was a set outside somewhere in the Czech Republic and we were shooting outside in the wintertime. It was actually really, really cold, and it was raining, but it just added on to the roughness of that place.

What is Mat’s decision going to do? Because we see how loyal of a friend Rand is to him.

I know. And that’s why it’s so heartbreaking that he didn’t step into the Ways, because that is what Rand has been doing for a lot of time; he was trying to take care of him. And he saw what was going on with him, saw that something wasn’t right, and then they finally reunite with their friends and he leaves them! For Rand, that was his mission for a long time and I think it definitely feels like he failed.

And then they give us a hint that we may be heading somewhere that I don’t think fans are expecting with him.

Yeah, yeah. Well, that is something that will reveal itself over time. I don’t want to spoil anything.

The Wheel of Time - Marcus Rutherford + Josha Stradowski

Okay. And then the tension with Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) and you over Egwene (Madeleine Madden), is that something we should worry about?

I don’t think so. You know, the Two Rivers folk, they all love each other. And also the relationship between Rand and Egwene is constantly shifting. Back in the Two Rivers, Rand realized that what she needs isn’t him and that was a very mature thing. But later on in the story, they do need each other, even knowing that she left him before. They need that love and comfort. And sometimes that is a bit of a gray area, it can be love or it can be friendship. And they go through some traumas together, so they do need each other.

Are we to assume that this is their first time together?

Yes.

And then he goes and leaves her!

[Laughs] He does, because he can’t tell her the truth because he knows Egwene. He knows he can’t tell her the truth because then she’ll want to come with him. And of course, that’s what she wanted to do, so that was a good prediction of his. And it’s also very Rand-like to not tell anyone and he realizes that he has to go alone.

The Wheel of Time - Josha Stradowski + Madeleine Madden

How much time do you spend in the Blight in the season finale? Because if they’re building that massive set, you better use it!

I think it was like a week, maybe two? The whole Blights sequence took a long time to shoot, yeah,

Knowing what Rand’s destiny is, was that reflected in your physical training for this role?

Well, when we started with the season, we had this bootcamp week where we had a month of stunts training. And then we had all the horse riding and I had archery. And then later on, we also prepared for the fights to come in throughout the season. Not only is there the sword fighting and the archery, as you said, the Blight itself is a rotten place and physically, you can see that it’s a very exhausting place.

'The Wheel of Time': Madeleine Madden Opens Up About Egwene's Path Going ForwardSee Also

'The Wheel of Time': Madeleine Madden Opens Up About Egwene's Path Going Forward

'She'll do whatever she needs to do to protect the ones she loves.'

 

You’re already working on Season 2, and as the Dragon Reborn, I can only imagine that means more work for you.

Well, yeah, different work, because this is the start of a huge identity shift for him. In episode 7, suddenly he’s totally cut off from his roots. He always had a pretty good idea of who he was, what he wanted in life, but this changes everything. And in order to beat the Dark One, he has to transform. And season two is all about that identity shift for Rand.

Does that also mean for you like physically changing yourself?

Well, it’s interesting because I do have ideas about that. I’m thinking about that. At first, he’s that shepherd from the Two Rivers, but now… he’s the one that has to almost, like, take on all the suffering of the world. And being aware of what happens in the books, it’s just trauma after trauma after trauma. And that means that there is a transformation all around, so hopefully also physically.

The Wheel of Time, Season 1, Streaming Now, Prime Video