Aramis Knight Talks Into The Badlands

Into the Badlands” is a part period drama, part western, part martial arts epic genre mash-up starring Hong Kong-American actor Daniel Wu and 17 year old Aramis Knight in his first lead role. The show had the third highest rated first season in cable television history debuting with just six episodes in 2015. As a result, it has been renewed for a second, 10 episode season to premiere sometime in 2017 (exact date TBD). I had the opportunity to chat with Aramis Knight, who plays the mysterious, powerful, and impetuous M.K. while he was on set filming season 2.

Though “Badlands” would be easy to define largely by its martial arts, something that’s not really a part of the television landscape right now, it’s also much more than that. Knight agreed, saying that the show is “unlike any other” and citing a heavy western influence as well as a southern influence that seeped in while filming on location in Louisiana. He spoke about the show as a very loose adaptation of the 16th century Chinese novel, “Journey to the West” that also draws on modern creations like “Game of Thrones”, saying that “Badlands’” drama is “very raw” much like the HBO show.

Martial arts may not be the show’s single defining aspect but it is certainly one of its more stunning facets. “Into the Badlands” combines wire work and more traditional combat to create visually arresting fight scenes. Knight went into great detail about the challenges associated with learning the choreography. Though he plays basketball in his spare time and had the strength and power necessary to execute the fight scenes, his biggest obstacle was flexibility. He called it a “very daunting task”. In addition to martial arts training, Aramis talked about creating his own “swagger” and fighting style for M.K., something all the actors were asked to do. M.K. is all about “raw power” and has more of a “street style” than those he fights with and against.

One of those actors he finds himself fighting with is Daniel Wu’s Sunny a clipper or assassin serving the Badlands’ most powerful Baron, Quinn (Marton Csokas). The two, brought together by chance, develop a master/apprentice relationship that is often reluctant at best. Knight talked about that relationship and said it was likely characterized more by the environment the two characters find themselves in. Insecurity runs rampant in the Badlands where everyone is forced to “gauge egos” and no one is sure who they can trust. On set, however, Wu and Knight are anything but reticent allies. Aramis talked about the pressure he felt, being asked to carry a show for the first time but cited the veteran, gracious actors around him from Wu and Csokas to Stephen Lang in particular who he learned an immeasurable amount from.

So what can Knight say about “Into the Badlands” season 2? Predictably, not too much. The show’s first season was unique in that with only six episodes it still felt like it took its time; more concerned with setting the table for what’s to come than cramming in as much as possible. Season 1 ended on a cliff hanger of sorts so the fates of the show’s characters are anyone’s guess. Knight would say, however, that six months has elapsed when we pick up with season 2 and there’s “huge growth” from season to season. He also hinted at the addition of some interesting new characters, one of which has been revealed to be Nick Frost of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, who has been added as a season regular.

If you missed season 1 of “Into the Badlands” it’s currently available on iTunes and OnDemand. Catch up now before season 2 hits AMC next year.