How Daniel Wu Cracked His Rib (for Real) on ‘Into the Badlands’

Badlands, Daniel Wu
James Minchin III/AMC
Daniel Wu as Sunny - Into the Badlands _ Season 1, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

With eleven balls-to-the-wall fight scenes on this season of Into the Badlands, Daniel Wu was destined to come away with a bit of damage. Sure enough, last night’s penultimate episode took its toll on the actor, who cracked a rib in one scene. But just as his character Sunny continues to persevere, so did Wu. We rang up with the series lead to chat about the incident, his crazy fight scenes and what to look forward to in Sunday night’s season finale at 10/9c on AMC.

So I saw on Twitter that you incurred an injury filming last night’s episode?
Yeah, you know that kick where he kicks the tree and the acorns fall down [to set off the traps]?

Yeah, what happened?
So it’s a pretty high kick, and it was done with a wire. When I came around the top of the kick, I got caught up in the wire, and it pulled across my body and cracked my rib.

Ouch. Were you out of commission for awhile?
No, actually we kept going. I didn’t even know it was cracked right away. I think two days later, I was like, “It still hurts. I think I should see a doctor.” So I went to see a doctor, and he was like, “Yeah. You have a cracked rib. There’s really nothing you can do about it.” So we just kept going for filming [Laughs]. Such is the way!

Did you have a lot more to film for the show still?
Yeah, we were probably three-quarters of the way through filming. So we still had a bit to go. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. It was a couple weeks of Advil.

That was a pretty crazy fight last night with the Widow. What went into that?
That was probably one of my favorite fights, actually, of all of them. It was cool because you have two lead characters that are fighting each other, and [also because of ] the way we did it and the way we shot it. It was very adverse conditions, shooting in those barracks there. It was very hot, very cramped, very dark. But what I liked about the fight is that in Kung Fu, there’s a legend that if you’re a master of weapons, you’re a master of the 18 classical weapons. Although we didn’t go through all of those weapons in that fight, we go through a few. So it’s kind of a little hint at that thing. People who are very familiar with Chinese martial arts, they’ll know what we were doing in that scene. But even if you don’t know that, just watching us pile through these different weapons and fight each other, it’s a pretty cool fight.

What has been the most difficult fight so far?
I would say the rain fight and the warehouse fight. The rain fight just because it was so hard to do, because you’re wet all the time. It was freezing inside that studio. I think for six days we were soaking wet, fighting like that. And then the warehouse fight scene because the location was pretty unruly. It’s a power station so there’s like rusty metal everywhere, and then there’s literally 30 or 40 people I was fighting in that scene. So that was very time consuming. But I think one of the most difficult was also last night, in terms of adverse conditions and then having a time crunch to try to get it done in time.

How long did you have?
I think we shot that over four days.

Badlands, Daniel Wu

Daniel Wu (center).

Has the show really pushed the limits of what you were capable of in terms of martial arts prior to this?
I think it’s showcased the most amount of stuff I’ve ever done in one project because each fight is very different. The first fight was a barehanded fight. The second fight was in the rain with two swords. Then there’s the warehouse fight where I’m one on 30 people. Each one showcases something different about the fighting ability. Usually in one movie you have two or three things. But in the six episodes, I’ll have been involved in eleven fights, and each one is kind of unique on its own. We kind of have to do that so it doesn’t seem repetitive or uninteresting.

What can we expect out of Sunday’s finale?
Sunday’s finale is going to be pretty crazy. There’s a really epic fight scene. We’ve hinted at M.K.’s power this whole time, and so there’s a fight scene that involves dealing with that power, and it’s actually not M.K. It’s a new group of people that come in. So that’s going to be kind of a shock for audiences to see, this kind of new group that comes in. And the season ends with a really crazy cliffhanger—like, “Oh s–t, what’s going to happen to all these crazy people right now?” It’s not just one story line, it’s with everybody. It leaves everybody hanging.

Will we get some resolution in terms of this dilemma Sunny’s having about whether to betray M.K.?
Let’s just say that a situation arises where he can no longer even deal with that. He has to deal with this situation first, and that’s what throws everything into chaos. It was totally unexpected from anyone’s side. It really puts a focus on something totally different. Sunny needs to survive and get out of that situation.

How has he been able to hold his stuff together for so long with the Baron being such a persistent a–hole?
[Laughs] Well, I think he’s used to it because he’s grown up with the Baron. A lot of people wonder why Sunny doesn’t just leave. He doesn’t because he has this allegiance not just to the Baron but to the whole fort. He leads these clippers. It’s kind of like the mafia in some ways. Once you get in there, it’s not very easy to get out, especially if you’re in a high position. So even though he knows the tumor thing is causing Quinn to go a little bit crazy and be irrational, he can’t really stop it from happening because he has to respect Quinn. So Quinn is going through this life-changing moment where everything around him is falling apart. I think Sunny realizes that, and there’s a little bit of empathy for him. But at the same time, he’s also scared to get out of there. He hasn’t figured out a plan yet, and I think that’s what’s really stopping him from leaving. Because no one is really sure what’s outside of the Badlands. It could be worse out there than it is within the Badlands. There are a lot of big question marks that leave him in a passive position.

Is the finale going to answer a lot of questions, or is it going to pose even more?
I think it’s going to force decisions to be made upon people so that you can’t even stop to think about it.

Are your fingers crossed for a season two?
Definitely. Everybody [in the cast] is anticipating whether or not we’re going to get greenlit for a second season. We’re all hoping because we just had a great time making this thing, and we’re just so happy with the response that we’ve gotten from it.

Into the Badlands, Season finale, Sunday, Dec. 20, 10/9c, AMC