Aramis Knight, who plays M.K. on AMC’s Into the Badlands, talks about why his character identifies with Pilgrim and what it was like shifting the dynamic with Sunny.
Q: M.K. immediately takes a liking to Pilgrim when they first meet. What has Pilgrim awakened in M.K. since they were introduced?
A: For the first time ever, M.K.’s feelings about Azra existing and being closer than everybody says is finally being validated by Pilgrim. I think, throughout the series, a lot of the characters are trying to hold M.K. down or make him feel as if his dream is crazy. They are quite big dreams and they do go against what the most powerful people in the Badlands say. When M.K. found Pilgrim, it made so much sense to work with him. Pilgrim had the same final goal. He had never met anyone like that before.
Q: How would you explain the different perspectives that Pilgrim and the Master have about the Gift?
A: I think they’re similar and different at the same time. I think their similarities are actually what make them butt heads so much. They’re both very in tune with their gift and they both think they know the right way. As Aramis, I honestly think Pilgrim has better intentions, so I sort of agree with M.K. Pilgrim, although he would put his soldiers into danger, empowers his kids for having the Gift. The Master tries to hold them down and create a nuclear weapon at her fingertips. I definitely understand how M.K. sided with Pilgrim. He has a much clearer vision. I don’t know that the Master is in tune with the physical Azra. It’s something more mental or psychological.
Q: How has M.K. been processing the truth about his mother’s death?
A: M.K.’s biggest ally was Sunny. M.K. never had any type of parental figure or anybody above him since his mom that was really there to protect him. When he met Sunny, Sunny saw so much of himself in M.K. That’s the reason they got so close as far back as Season 1. The realization [that Sunnny killed his mother] sends M.K. down the rabbit hole that he’s in now. He’s forced to find a new person to identify with and a new protector. M.K. is still a young guy and can’t surround himself with people who have wronged him like that.
Q: What’s it like for M.K. to fight against so many people he once trusted?
A: I feel like it’s kind of normal for him at this point, which is sad. To be honest, I was really sad when I finally read [how M.K.’s mom died]. Sunny and M.K. were such a cool pairing. Even for me, it hurt. Daniel [Wu] and I are really close, so it was sad to learn that we weren’t going to be the dynamic duo – that was such a big part of the series. It was difficult, for sure. I had to change my tune for Sunny and for Daniel on some days and really find the anger in all of it. You could make a case for Tilda and a lot of the characters in the series, but I don’t think anything amounts to the way he feels about Sunny. M.K.’s greater goal throughout the series is to not only find Azra, but to find his mom. Sunny completely took away his greater goal and almost gave him no reason to live. That’s why he goes off the deep end.
Q: How does M.K. process his severe injuries from the bombing at the Sanctuary? What’s it like for him to possess the Gift and so much power, yet still be vulnerable?
A: It’s a lot of pressure that Pilgrim is putting M.K. under. I think that might be the number one thing that makes Pilgrim such a villain – he’s exploiting these kids. They could be using their Gift for something beneficial to them, but Pilgrim is only worried about his cause, which doesn’t always protect the people who are actually fighting for it. M.K. is Pilgrim’s right-hand man, so he should have never gone down in battle. You see in the beginning with Castor and Nix – Pilgrim is not very nice to them. They seem like his beloved children, but they’re both dead by the end.
Q: M.K. has changed a lot since Season 1 as we’ve seen him – and you – grow up over the course of the show. Was there anything about his journey (or your own) that surprised you over the course of the years?
A: M.K. is the heart of the Badlands at the beginning. He’s the light at the end of the tunnel, amidst the darkness and chaos and power-hungry people. He was just trying to survive and he just wanted a family. I think that’s why he identifies with so many groups throughout the series. He never finds his family, which is sad. It’s a pretty tragic timeline for him. He started as a naïve kid who had a lot of hope and then he realizes there is no God in the Badlands. I was 15 when I started and I’m 19 now, which is really a huge jump. I live on my own now and, for the first time ever, I lived on my own in Ireland. This was right in the middle of one of the most vital times in my life. I give so much props to Daniel. He was such an amazing leader. This show opened so many doors for me and taught me so many things.
Q: What has been your favorite fight from the entire series?
A: My favorite fight overall is Sunny in the motorhome when he was protecting Henry. It’s such an amazing fight. It’s so brutal and well-choreographed. I remember [our trainer] Matt Lucas got his hands on that to make it more brutal and to make it utterly vicious. It was just amazing.
Read an interview with Sherman Augustus, who plays Moon.
Into the Badlands airs Mondays at 10/9c.
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