Aramis Knight, who plays M.K. on AMC’s Into the Badlands, talks about the thrill of portraying M.K.’s downward spiral, M.K. aligning with Pilgrim and more.
Q: At the beginning of the season, M.K. has kind of lost himself. How would you describe his mental state throughout the season?
A: During the first few episodes, M.K. is quite dejected. He’s used to being imprisoned. It’s come to a point where he feels like he doesn’t really have a purpose in life. The Widow locked him up for six months and the only purpose she’s really given him is to cultivate his power again, so he’s very frustrated. I think he feels like he’s not really living for anything. He’s very bored. I think that’s why he starts to smoke opium and gets into heroin and why he’s sleeping around.
Q: What was it like to uncover and play this other side of him?
A: It was a lot of fun because when I started this show, I was 15 years old. I’ve really evolved with the show. I just turned 18 this year. It’s a big year for me in terms of feeling like an adult and finally being on my own. It was my first time in Ireland, alone without my mom. I definitely think the writers knew that I was ready for more mature material. I think there was a time in the series where M.K. was really the only good thing and the only light at the end of the tunnel. I think it’s pretty powerful for people to see him in such a dark spot.
Q: Were you just as surprised as M.K. to see in his memory that Sunny killed M.K.’s mother?
A: I was surprised and I was trying to figure out whether it was just another vision. If you remember, in Season 2, M.K. also had those visions in the Master’s chamber. I was not too sure if it was actually true, but once we filmed it, I justified it as being true because it was a vision created from M.K.’s mind and no one else was manipulating him. So, I think it was a more of a memory than a hallucination.
Q: When M.K. arrives at Pilgrim’s camp, he’s immediately intrigued by Pilgrim’s ability to disable his power. What does M.K. think of him?
A: When Pilgrim shuts M.K. down, I think it humbles M.K. When M.K. gets his power back, he’s really one of the most powerful guys and he really can’t be stopped once he goes dark. He’s not used to people shutting him down. It’s a reality check for him. Further in the scene, Pilgrim goes on to tell him that they’re looking for Azra. M.K. and Pilgrim simply have the same greater goal. They’re both looking to build a new world. Everyone is telling them they’re crazy for even thinking it exists, but they quickly bond over their obsession about finding it.
Q: Both Pilgrim and the Widow are fighting for a greater cause. How would you describe the differences in how they go about it?
A: I would say the Widow is a lot more of a world leader. Pilgrim is more of a spiritual man whereas the Widow is very analytical and technical about the way she does things. Even with the way she sold out Veil in Season 2, it was very calculated. She knew what she was doing and that she was betraying somebody, but she realized she had to do it to protect her people. With M.K., she realizes that this is obviously not what he wants. She’s pretty much killing the kid, but if she’s able to unleash his power, it gives her such an upper hand and it’s worth it. It’s worth ruining this kid’s life. I think Pilgrim sees a community rather than a prison. M.K. is used to people locking him up and bossing him around. When Pilgrim tells him that it’s his choice to stay or leave, it’s a pretty easy choice for M.K.
Q: With Sunny being an important catalyst to Pilgrim, M.K. is forbidden to harm him. What’s it like for M.K. to be in this situation?
A: I feel like M.K., unlike a lot of characters, has been around the block. He’s spent a lot of time with the Widow, with Sunny, with Tilda and with most characters on the show at some point. So, I think he has the upper hand in understanding people’s intentions. When Pilgrim and Cressida first realize that Sunny is coming to Pilgrim’s fortress, they think it’s very positive. M.K. knows what type of guy this is and that he has a baby. He realizes that it’s a very selfish move on Sunny’s part, but they don’t want to listen to him.
Q: What was it like interacting with so many new characters in this new storyline?
A: It was great. And I think it’s the first time M.K.’s been given an independent storyline where he’s really just out for himself. I think that’s going to be really interesting for people to see. Evolution of character is always the most interesting thing and it’s one of those things you can really do in television because shows stay on for so long. I’ve been able to really run with that. I think people are going to notice he’s a lot more specific about the moves he makes and he’s a lot more calculated about getting what he wants.
Read an interview with Emily Beecham, who plays the Widow.
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