Orla Brady, who plays Lydia on AMC’s Into the Badlands, talks about her character’s response to Pilgrim’s crusade and the shift in her relationship to the Widow.
Q: Having been married to someone like Quinn and seeing how he ruled, what is it like for Lydia to witness Pilgrim’s crusade this season?
A: Lydia knows about power — the getting and keeping of it. She has seen how the mythologizing works — that brutal men like Quinn can convince people that they are special and can save the people. So, the moment she sets eyes on Pilgrim and Cressida, she has their number. They may invoke religion and use the language of salvation, but as we know from history, this is usually a means to gain power by promising much to desperate people. She believes that although Pilgrim is making a power grab, he has a good chance of success with the ordinary people of the Badlands. Lydia knows, as a result of her own culpability in the past, her willingness to subjugate her own people when she was a Baroness.
Q: How surprised is Lydia to hear that the Widow actually knows about her relationship with Moon?
A: She is surprised in one sense, but of course wise enough to know that these things never remain a secret for long. I think she is rather relieved, actually, and now has another woman she can talk to about this. She is in love after all, and we all want to enthuse when we are in love. Remember that in spite of initial suspicion of the Widow, Lydia has come to love her and believes her heart is in the right place. I think she would fight to the death for the Widow at this point.
Q: Is she even more surprised to hear the Widow commend her for balancing love and leadership? What was your take on that?
A: It’s a moment of vindication. She sees that the Widow has finally matured and now understands that winning power is only part of the picture. It takes someone who can then govern with kindness. It’s a powerful moment for both of them and one I loved playing with Emily [Beecham].
Q: What do Lydia and Moon bring out of each other? Was there any question that she would go help him during the stance against Chau?
A: It was a tricky call for Lydia as they had agreed that if she did not “hold the line,” then Chau’s army could breach their defenses and all would be lost. However, heart won over head and she just could not stay there and watch him die. It was pretty much my favorite moment in the entire series for Lydia, riding in on her horse with a crossbow to kick some ass and get him out. I think Moon is the best thing that has ever happened to her. Both of them were hardened by years of surviving in the harsh world of the Badlands. However, there is a gentleness to him that she recognizes and responds to. They save each other in that they are finally willing to open their hearts to each other — a far more vulnerable thing to do than merely fighting as they have been for many years.
Q: Can you talk about filming this episode’s fight against Cressida in that tiny cell?
A: I loved that day so much. I felt I had arrived when I was told that I would be working with Andy Cheng and the wonderful martial artists who create and execute all of our most spectacular fight sequences. I trained and tried to be ready and to live up to it on the day. It was also fascinating to see the special way they work, where the shots are married to the action. The camera and the performer [are] in a kind of dance together. It was heaven. I was sore for days after. It was worth every painkiller and epsom salt bath thereafter.
Q: What did you make of Cressida’s comment about Lydia having killed before, but not being a killer?
A: Although Cressida’s comment is a true one and Lydia understands it as such, Cressida is using it to manipulate Lydia. So, it falls on deaf ears as Lydia is clear that this witch has a dangerous power and will use it only for destruction. She sees through the attempt and is clear she must follow through and execute her. As we now know… it doesn’t exactly go to plan.
Q: What will you take away from your time on the show?
A: I will take away a huge respect for the fighters, stunt people and choreographers above all. The absolute kick I got — see what I just did — from working with Daniel Wu and his talented, dedicated team. I will miss my fellow cast members and all that we shared over four years. Most of all, though, I will take away a huge respect for this martial arts genre and for its message of equality. The fact that it is not brawn that wins the day, but technique, skill, determination and a moral core.
Q: What’s been your favorite fight scene from the entire series?
A: I have always loved the very first fight scene in Episode 1, directed by Stephen Fung and featuring Daniel Wu fighting the Widow’s bowler hats in pouring rain. Balletic, rhythmic and graceful. It dazzled me.
Read an interview with Sherman Augustus, who plays Moon.
Into the Badlands airs Mondays at 10/9c.
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