Daniel Wu, who plays Sunny on AMC’s Into the Badlands, talks about Sunny’s fractured mental state this season, how baby Henry changes Sunny’s trajectory and his favorite fights from the Season Premiere.
A: When we find him in the first episode, he’s in a quite different state than we’ve seen him in the past. He was definitely upset last season, but he’s in a state of depression this season. He’s drinking, living off the grid, trying to survive as a single dad and he’s really trying to stay away from the Badlands and the war that’s going on. Unfortunately, he gets pulled back into the fray. It’s a struggle. He’s trying to turn away from the violence of his past, but he’s confronting if he can really do that. He’s trying to find a place of peace and he’s really struggling with who he is.
Q: How does baby Henry drive him forward? Has Sunny’s views on violence changed since he has to protect both himself and his child now?
A: It’s softened him a bit. That’s the truth for everybody. When you give life, it makes it hard to think about taking life. I have this theory that if men could give birth, there wouldn’t be as many wars as there are in the world because you’d value life more.
Q: Sunny finds Bajie in the middle of a debacle, of course. What was it like reuniting with Nick Frost on set again?
A: It was great! He’s probably one of my best acting partners ever. He’s great to be around both on set and off set. When he came onto the show for the second season, it brought a whole element of levity with his sense of humor, timing and comedy. It’s a great partnership for Sunny and we continue with that odd couple pairing. It was a great reunion for us.
Q: Bajie thinks Azra is a fairytale. Does Sunny still have hope?
A: They’ve been led to believe that Azra was some kind of utopia or someplace better than the Badlands. They want to have that hope that some remnants exist.
Q: As it turns out, baby Henry has “the gift.” How does this land on Sunny?
A: What forces him into the Badlands is Henry being sick. He finds out that his son has this dark power and he needs to find a cure for him. As the season goes on, Sunny finds out more and more about his own past. He doesn’t know about his youth prior to him being a Clipper because it was erased from his memory. He has to reconcile with that once those things come to light.
Q: What was it like shooting with so many new faces this season?
A: It felt like a different show at first, but they integrated themselves really well because they were all fans before taking on the role. They were very eager and excited to get into this world. They really add a whole other texture to the show. Pilgrim and the Acolytes, Cressida, Nix, Castor… they’re all new, but they fit so well. Quinn’s gone and he was a great nemesis and now we have a new nemesis. They bring on something way more dangerous than Quinn.
Q: How do all of the new locations add to the scope of the season?
A: There are so many since it’s a 16-episode season. We’ve got so many locations all over Ireland, which really opened up the show for us and made it much more cinematic. The location is almost a character on its own. One of my favorite locations for a fight, which I produced as the fight unit executive producer, is the fight in the beginning with Moon and the Widow at the tower. It was a major challenge to try to pull that off. It’s an existing tower and it’s right across from our production facility. It’s on the top of a mountain and it faces the ocean, so it’s high winds. We have actors and stunt people flying around this thing and there were times we had to stop because the winds were too much. The tower is 100 feet tall and the crane is about 150 feet tall, above it. Any kind of heavy winds meant we had to shut down production. I think it was one of the most beautiful fights and a great way to start the season.
Q: Any particular stunts/fights you can’t wait for fans to see this upcoming season?
A: One of my favorite fights is Sunny in the RV in the first episode because, to me, it’s a real character fight. We don’t use any of the wire work, there are no real weapons and [Sunny] just uses what’s around him in that tight space. Through that fight, you understand his state of mind. It’s all about protecting Henry. It’s a raw, visceral and bloody fight. The idea is “If you f-ck with me, I’m going to f-cking kill you.” [Laughs] It’s not like before where he was an assassin. This situation is about protecting himself and his son. What I like is the contrast when he picks up Henry after the fight and he’s cooing him to calm him down. It’s a warm moment, but he’s just slaughtered three guys. You understand his motivation for what he did, but it’s also very uncomfortable. It really sets the tone for where Sunny is this season.
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