Ally Ioannides, who plays Tilda on AMC’s Into the Badlands, talks about preparing to play her character in an authoritative role, finally sharing a scene with Marton Csokas and revealing Tilda’s haunting backstory.
Q: Tilda has blossomed from a Butterfly into a Regent. How would you describe the new dynamic between her and the Widow?
A: Tilda being Regent now is a big step, considering how young she is. She has all these new responsibilities put on her. She has to worry about advising the Widow not only as a daughter but as a Regent, and not only as someone who’s trying to further the Widow’s best interest, but someone who’s trying to help further the whole cause. It’s difficult for her because she’s always walking the line between wanting to be a good daughter and wanting motherly approval, but then also wanting to be a good Regent and do what’s best for the cause… She has a lot to think about, especially when you add in the fact that people are dying. A lot is at stake, but she’s doing her best.
Q: Did playing a Regent require more physical work and training on your part?
A: Definitely. I trained between Season 1 and Season 2 before I even knew that Tilda was going to be Regent, but as soon as I found out that she was going to be Regent, I definitely wanted that to be apparent in the way that she carries herself and fights. It’s been six months, so she’s had time to hone her skills. [Laughs] I wanted her to be stronger. We had a routine that we would do every morning in training for Season 2 and Daniel [Wu] would run it. One day, about two weeks in, he was like, “OK, Ally. You’re Regent. You run it!” So, I had to take that authoritative position and tell all my peers what to do. I definitely felt that shift in power where people are looking at you to make decisions and what to do next – even though it was on a way smaller scale — it was definitely helpful.
Q: How did revealing Tilda’s backstory of abuse in Episode 6 affect how you approached portraying her?
A: That’s a part of her and it affects her in a lot of ways, but it’s almost subconscious because I don’t think she’s had time to deal with something extremely traumatic that happened. She’s had to focus on survival, so I think she’s hardened. There’s a lot of anger there and we see that come out when she chased down those abusers in Episode 1 and killed them. She’s had to bury it because she has a lot of other things going on, but in that moment with Odessa, she’s with someone who’s also sharing something deep and terrible that’s happened. She needs Odessa to stay, but she knows she has to dig deep and be completely honest to make her stay. That moment is really great because it almost forces her to come to terms with that.
Q: Tilda and Odessa are growing closer, but Odessa often challenges the Widow’s choices in front of Tilda. Does Odessa threaten to shake Tilda’s belief in the Widow’s cause?
A: She gives Tilda another way to see the world. Odessa does a lot of things that Tilda wishes she could do, but can’t because she’s Regent. She’s kind of stuck. Odessa finds ways around things and cuts corners. Tilda is really attracted to that. I think it’s the kind of thing where it’s always been inside Tilda – that yearning to fight back – but she didn’t know it was possible until she met Odessa. She saw her walking into rooms she wasn’t allowed to be in and joking around, and it’s electrifying when you meet someone like that. Part of growing up is meeting other people and knowing that you can live your own life. It will be interesting to see how that plays out later in the season because although she’s quiet, Tilda is bold.
Q: What do you think about Waldo and Tilda’s dynamic? How does Tilda view him and vice-versa?
A: That relationship is so fun, and working with Stephen Lang is such a treat. It’s obvious that Waldo is Tilda’s superior. He’s seasoned, he’s older, he’s wiser, he’s done this job before and he’s an amazing fighter. He’s badass, but Tilda definitely doesn’t see him solely as a superior. From her perspective, it’s like, “I’ve been around the Widow for years. I’ve done everything for her, and now you’re swooping in, and you want to tell me how to be Regent. I’m pretty sure I know how to do it best.” That makes for a really interesting dynamic and you get that banter between them. Tilda’s always pushing his buttons and seeing how far she can go. But when she goes too far, she’s terrified and shuts up. [Laughs] It’s in those moments that you see she really has so much respect for him. It’s a real mentor-mentee relationship, but also one of colleagues. You can’t really label it, and that’s what’s so great about it.
Q: What about Waldo wanting her to do away with emotions?
A: Waldo tells her that, but I think even he feels some sort of affection towards her. You can’t turn off your emotions. You just can’t. Tilda’s very driven by the people she loves and protects those around her, so I think that’s a hard thing for her to hear, but she knows there’s some truth in it because it’s a hard world. You can’t be sitting around and joking with your friends in the Badlands. [Laughs]
Q: You shared a lot of scenes with Aramis Knight last season. Did not having him around help you portray Tilda being kept in the dark about where he is now?
A: With the way we shoot the show, if you don’t have a scene with somebody, you don’t see them all the time. Aramis and I are friends, so we still hang out, but a lot of times, I’d be on a different unit. We were definitely more isolated, and it made me feel more alone, so it was really meta in how it played into our characters’ relationships.
A: That was so cool. I’d never had a scene with Marton before, and it was so much fun to watch him work. I felt like I had bought a ticket to see him on set. Maddy and I had scenes last year that I really enjoyed, and I think Veil and Tilda have a unique relationship. They don’t have a lot of scenes together, but when they do, it’s really special. It doesn’t seem very surface level at all because they really understand what the other is going through. Veil really taps into Tilda’s emotions and hits her hard with the baby. It’s always fun to work with different people.
Q: Is Tilda worried about the Widow creating an alliance with Quinn? How might this shift the story going forward?
A: Tilda’s terrified and furious and confused about that alliance. From her perspective, it comes out of the blue. This is a man who has been advocating against the Widow for years and is a terrible misogynist who captures women. In no way is this logically a good thing. I think Tilda has to stop and question her mother’s integrity and, as painful as that is, she doesn’t really have a choice. From the Widow’s perspective, sometimes you have to compromise your beliefs for the bigger picture. This is a huge deal, and I think a lot of questions are swimming in Tilda’s head.
Read a Q&A with Sarah Bolger, who plays Jade.
Watch full episodes of Into the Badlands on amc.com and AMC apps for mobile, XBox One, Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast.
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