Oliver Stark, who plays Ryder on AMC’s Into the Badlands, talks about how his character would rule the Badlands and the love triangle between Ryder, Quinn and Jade.
Q: Does Ryder have what it takes to be a Baron? What are his strong suits? What are his weak points?
A: I think he has the potential to be a very powerful Baron, but I don’t think he’s ready just yet. His strongest attribute is probably that he’s willing to do whatever is needed to be done. He’s not going to second guess himself when making bloody decisions, but I think he’s [brought] down by this truculent attitude he has. He’s always ready to argue and fight. If he were in charge, it might drag the Badlands back into a state of war.
Q: In Episode 2, Ryder gets himself and Sunny into a trap by The Widow at the turbine station — and almost ends up dead. Is that proof that Ryder isn’t ready to be a Baron, or is The Widow just that menacing? Who’s to blame there?
A: It’s proof that he’s still very naive. He has this need to impress and prove his worth. That leaves him open to deception. It’s his fault, no doubt, and he pays a very heavy price for it.
Q: What’s the biggest difference between Ryder and Quinn? How would their leadership styles be different, or would they actually be the same?
A: The acorn probably falls closer to the tree than Ryder would like to think. Ryder would have to work harder than Quinn at winning support. I don’t know if it’s out of fear or respect – or a mixture of the two – but Quinn does have an army willing to kill for him. I’m not so sure the force would lay down their lives for Ryder. He would have to rule in an even more aggressive manner… if that’s even possible.
Q: Can you talk about the love triangle going on between Quinn, Ryder and Jade? That can’t end well!
A: Yeah, I can’t imagine it having a very happy ending! [Laughs] In the third episode, there’s an interesting moment where Jade has her hand on Ryder’s and she has to take it away as Quinn enters the room. She also says to Veil, “I can’t let Ryder die.” That sounds like real love to me, but maybe I’m biased.
Q: What about the dynamic between Ryder and Sunny? Does Ryder grow jealous that Quinn favors Sunny sometimes ?
A: More like all the time. All the respect and love Ryder feels he deserves as Quinn’s biological son is given to Sunny, which is enough to make any son jealous. There’s a power struggle there that has to be resolved one way or another.
Q: All the cast went to martial arts boot camp, but we actually don’t see Ryder fighting too often onscreen. Is he more strategic than violent? Could he still handle himself in a fight?
A: Ryder’s used the Badlands as a chess board. He’s trying to push all these pieces forward at once. He can fight. Obviously, he’s not on Sunny’s level, but one thing that would work to his advantage is that he’s not afraid to fight dirty.
Q: In Episode 3, Veil uses a trepanation device to drill a hole in Ryder’s head. Obviously you lived to tell the story. Can you tell us how that scene was shot?
A: When I first read that episode, I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out. Madeleine [Mantock], who plays Veil, really is winding that into my head as you see on the screen, but luckily it’s blunt. It did take some trial and error to work out the correct pressure to apply. The first take left a nasty dent in my head, but I made it through.
Q: You posted a photo on Instagram of you wearing an awesome armadillo shirt. Have people noticed the icon yet? Are you repping the Badlands in real life too?
A: [Laughs] I have about three T-shirts now with armadillos on them. The one in that photo was actually a wrap gift from my hairstylist on the show and the armadillo is wearing a pair of sunglasses. I’ve been in Prague working on a movie, so I haven’t had the chance for people to recognize the insignia yet, but I hope they do when I get home. I hope I don’t see any butterflies. I don’t want to fight anybody!
Q: Which character in the Badlands do you find you’re most similar to or can relate to the most?
A: There are a lot of parts of Ryder that I relate to, but I like Veil. I’m a man of peace. There’s always going to be a Ryder or a Quinn, but the world needs good-hearted people more than anything else.
Click here to read an interview with Aramis Knight, who plays M.K.
Into the Badlands airs Sundays at 10/9c on AMC.
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