Ally Ioannides, who plays Tilda on AMC’s Into the Badlands, talks about crafting a new fighting style and Tilda’s ultimate end goal.
Q: Tilda has forged herself a new identity: The Iron Rabbit. Did this new identity require any new training on your part or the way she physically carries herself?
A: Definitely. Thinking about her fighting style, it was regimented. She’s more cat-like now. She’ll jump more and there’s a lot of wire work. It was something I developed on set, actually, in that first fight and developing a crouch. I’m pretty flexible, so I can do those long lunges that I find really work with the new costume. I think that’s cool. She’s exploring different fight styles while she can.
Q: Tilda makes it clear she is no longer the Widow’s daughter. How would you describe their dynamic as it is now?
A: In Season 1 and Season 2, Tilda is like a teenager living with her mom in a cult. It’s all she’s ever known. [She’s] the person that’s taught her everything and who she loves, and then she sees a side of that person that she doesn’t agree with – like a lot of people do with their parents. You realize you’re not the same person and you’re not going to have the same ideals as anyone else because you’re you. There’s a harsh falling out and she goes off on her own. … She’s figuring out who she is apart from her mother, like a lot of people in our world have to do when they have to move out from their parents. … For her, it’s also about making sure she’s not going to be hurt again. Sometimes, you can want someone to be something so much, but they’re never going to be that person. Tilda really wants the Widow to be someone she’s not. In the middle of the season, she realizes she’s going to have to redefine the relationship herself. She’s made peace with that and who the Widow is. She’s made peace with herself. Now she can redefine it as “We are allies. I will fight by your side. I love you, but you’re not my everything. You’re not my sun. You’re not my mother. I’m not going to do every little thing you say. We’re going to do it together, as equals.”
Q: How difficult is it for Tilda when she decides to fight alongside the Widow again?
A: People are always more powerful when they are united. Tilda had a relationship with Odessa and that was filling the hole, but when Odessa left, she realizes that she didn’t have anything. She lost Iron Rabbits and then she lost the refugees. In order to be a force, she needed other people to help her. She does love the Widow. I think she’s growing to a point where she can acknowledge the fact that the Widow did give her life, but she can give her life now.
Q: What about M.K.? How does she feel about the person he’s become?
A: She feels so heartbroken by it. Genuinely, I think Tilda saw someone really amazing and pure, and she thinks if everyone else could see that, he wouldn’t be as dark as he is. I think it makes her angry more at the people around him than at him. She really loves him. She’s coming to the point where she realizes that even if she does so much and loves someone with all her heart, that doesn’t change who they are. She’s also acknowledged that the Gift is a sickness. She’s seen it completely control M.K. and tear apart her whole world. It’s not a gift in her eyes! [Laughs] She sees him as a sick boy rather than the budding villain he really is. He’s sick with the Gift and with Pilgrim and everyone infecting his mind. She feels really bad for him and there’s nothing she can do. She had a conversation with him where she was really trying to get through to him and she couldn’t. She has to fight for a better world, which is her cause. It really saddens her to see him like that, but there’s not much she can do.
Q: The relationship with Odessa really forces Tilda to define what she wants. How does that experience impact who she becomes?
A: I think Odessa is someone she really respects and not like “I’ve created you as my little ninja girl. Go out and kill people” but as in “I think you’re really cool. I really love you. We can do amazing things together.” They both have that mutual respect and – dare I say – a healthy relationship in the Badlands. She gets that she’s worthy of love and having a relationship. Odessa is a really scrappy person. She gets around the rules. She’s not conventional. Tilda’s really enamored with her and I think Tilda also gets that you don’t have to take everything at face value. You can forge your own path. That’s something she’s learned from her, for sure.
Q: In Episode 7, Tilda has to watch the Widow execute the Butterflies who betrayed the cause. What’s that like for her?
A: I think she understands this has to happen. It doesn’t feel good. She’s got resentment towards them, but Tilda’s so committed. The fact that they betrayed the whole entire cause and flipped, she doesn’t think that’s okay. It sucks to watch people die. She doesn’t want that, but I think she’s thought about this before she got back to fight on the Widow’s side. It’s not as much of a connection to her because, before, she would be standing beside the Widow as her regent if the Widow was killing someone. Now, that’s Moon. It’s not on her. She couldn’t stop it even if she wanted to. She’s not working for the Widow. She’s working with the Widow. People have to know that if they betray the Widow, they’re going to die.
Q: Is Tilda’s primary goal to win the Widow’s war or to reduce the amount of suffering in the Badlands?
A: Definitely to reduce the amount of suffering in the Badlands. I think she really loves the Widow and wants to support her, but it’s not because she’s devoted to everything she’s devoted to. They have a common interest. It only makes sense that they would work together. It’s the only way that anything is going to get done with this giant threat looming over them. If they don’t come together, they’re all going to die. It’s now or never.
Q: What was it like shooting with so many new people and opening up the world of the Badlands even more?
A: It was amazing and so much fun. It was the new spice that the Badlands needed. I love all of them as humans and as actors as well. Sherman [Augustus] is amazing. He’s such an inspiring person because he’s so passionate and he’s such a good actor. He loves the show and he’s so funny. He’ll play around with me more than anyone. We have so much fun. I have a lot of stuff with Lewis [Tan] this year. He’s the perfect person to have in the Badlands because he basically does all his stunts. He’s an amazing martial artist and such a great actor. He’s brought so much freshness to the show. He’s like my older brother. He’s so helpful with martial arts and is such an encouraging person. And I love Ella-Rae [Smith]. She’s my vegan buddy and she’s my age. Aramis [Knight] and I got so excited when Dean [-Charles Chapman] and Ella-Rae were introduced because no one else is our age. Aramis and Dean are really close. They’re adorable. Behind the scenes, there’s a lot of cuteness. It’s such a loving group.
Read an interview with Nick Frost, who plays Bajie.
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