Daniel Wu, who plays Sunny on AMC’s Into the Badlands, talks about the high stakes of Pilgrim’s crusade and why it’s a war for the ages.
Q: Henry is now free of the Gift that caused his sickness, but it came at the cost of granting Pilgrim this power. How is Sunny navigating this at the start of the season?
A: I think Sunny is slowly realizing the gravity of his mistake. He was so focused on saving Henry that he didn’t really think about the consequences of his actions. Even the advice of the person he trusted most, Bajie, was ignored in order to save his son. So, I think Sunny is just realizing the gravity of his mistake. This is going to motivate him for the rest of the season — trying to make right what he did wrong.
A: Sunny still has questions about where he came from and what his purpose is. Pilgrim has been providing some of those answers for him and showing him that he really, truly was meant to be much more than just a Clipper. Deep down inside, he wants to know that he came from a place where people truly cared for him and loved him instead of manipulating him to take advantage of his seemingly natural born talents.
Q: Does a part of him want to believe in Pilgrim’s mission, given their history?
A: Yes, of course. He wants to believe in the hope of Azra and that there is maybe a better place than the world they have been thrust into. Pilgrim makes Sunny believe that hope is still achievable and that they can be the catalyst for change in the Badlands.
Q: Sunny and Pilgrim face off in the Mid-Season Premiere. How did you enjoy this episode’s fight with Babou Ceesay? Was there new choreography needed, given how powerful Pilgrim has become?
A: I love Babou as a person, actor and fighter on this show. He came in out of shape and knowing zero martial arts and he came out a bad-ass. So, I couldn’t be more happy to see what he achieved by working on this show. We designed his style around his presence. If you see Sunny as a quick and nimble monkey king, then Pilgrim is a mostly calm but explosively violent buffalo. When he comes running, you better get out of the way.
Q: On that note, how does this coming battle threaten to bring back Sunny’s ruthless side? The stakes are different than they were previously during the Baron feud, where Sunny was a bit removed…
A: This is a Civil War for the ages because it involves the fate of humanity. The stakes are much higher. This is the equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off or a zombie apocalypse in other worlds. The situation is graver than it ever has been. Sunny is serious about his business now.
Q: What’s it like to play up the dynamic between M.K. and Sunny, given where they now are?
A: It’s difficult to try to care for someone that hates you to the core and with probable cause. So, it’s been really interesting to have this once master/student relationship turn to this. The dynamic just completely changed from Season 1.
Q: Is Sunny surprised to hear M.K. refer to Pilgrim and the Acolytes as his family?
A: Sunny just didn’t expect M.K. to drink the punch so easily. He understands that they got him at a low moment and manipulated him, and that saddens Sunny tremendously.
Q: Sunny had such high hopes for Azra, but it turns out Bajie was right. Thinking back on how much he believed in this place and the effort he put into finding it, how would you say this shapes him going forward in the season?
A: This throws Sunny for yet another existential loop. Was it all a lie? Was it all for nothing? Was this all his fault? That’s heavy, and Sunny adds that to the rest of the baggage that he has to carry for life and the rest of the season.
Q: As we gear up for these final episodes and the final battle, what did you get out of working on the show?
A: I can’t answer that in any kind of short form other than: so much. So, so much. I could [speak] for days about that. That is what I will miss most about not making this show anymore — the constant opportunities for growth and learning. You couldn’t ask for anything more of a creative endeavor like this.
Read an interview with Co-Creators/Co-Executive Producers Miles Millar and Al Gough.
Into the Badlands airs Mondays at 10/9c.
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