1 of 5 | Season 2 of "Wheel of Time" airs Friday nights. Photo courtesy of Prime Video
NEW YORK, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Directors Sanaa Hamri and Thomas Napper say their fantasy drama series, The Wheel of Time, reflects the reality of 2023 with its diverse cast and demonstration of female empowerment.
"It's about being true to the world," Hamri told UPI in a recent Zoom interview, noting how the show incorporates characters from varying cultures and philosophies.
"It's a natural movement that has to happen, has happened and needs to continue to happen," she said. "There's all of us in this together, not just one type of person."
New episodes of Season 2 air on Prime Video Friday nights.
The adaptation of Robert Jordan's book series follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the Aes Sedai, a powerful organization of women who channel the One Power, and her Warder, Lan (Daniel Henney), who guide five young villagers from the secluded Two Rivers region of Andor, believing one of them is the reincarnation of the Dragon, a powerful entity that could save or destroy the world.
It co-stars Sophie Okonedo, Josh Stradowski, Madeleine Madden, Marcus Rutherford and Zoë Robins.
Napper said he was raised mainly by women, so a story about powerful females spoke to him.
"Men do go generally mad when they have too much power, and that's been evidenced again and again," he said.
"So, it's interesting to see a very strong matriarchal society, very strong politics run by these amazing female characters. You have these incredible female archetypes who are all very different, with different intentions.
"It's a wonderful experience to be part of a show that has that intention and that dynamic."
The big existential questions the show asks appealed to Hamri.
"Other themes include the cyclical nature of time and Eastern philosophies, reincarnation. Are we stuck on the wheel? Are we coming back? Do we make it stop?" she asked rhetorically.
"I also feel like I'm very drawn to strong characters who have to grapple with internal questions, such as free will versus destiny. Are we preordained to make these moves?" she added. "Or do we have a choice to make change? We will see the characters go through that."
These are ideas people everywhere face in real life, too.
"To me, that's the benchmark for a great story and characters that we relate to. When I watched Wheel of Time, the first season, I felt like I could see myself in there and, as a woman, and woman of color, one rarely sees that. It's good to be able to lean into that."
Season 2 scatters the adventurers to different locations, which meant the directors had to film in a manner that opens up the story and expands what viewers see on screen.
"There's a lot of new world building," Napper said.
Hamri added: "Because our characters are going on separate journeys and they have to go through different landscapes, we were able to travel all over the Czech Republic.
"We went to parts of Italy. We wound up in Morocco in the Sahara Desert," she said. "Through the story, we have widened the scope to show these worlds and that becomes complicated to manage in terms of the schedules."
Napper called the series "incredibly visual" and not just because of its gorgeous costumes and landscapes.
"There is a really strong sense of visions. Whether it is Nynaeve's dreams in the arches, whether it is Rand's nightmares, whether it's the dreams they all share together, it's a very strong theme within the books and within the show," he said.
He said he thinks this element sets the show apart from others in the genre.
"There is almost a psychedelia to some of the visuals, and it gives the show real spice," he said.
"As visual people, it's really exciting to be a part of something where you really have to use your imagination and work with Rafe judkins, the showrunner, and the other writers to put visuals around some of the ideas. Some of them are pretty crazy, but also really imaginative."