Could the ‘Wheel of Time’ be the next ‘Game of Thrones?’

Could the ‘Wheel of Time’ be the next ‘Game of Thrones?’

Amazon’s epic fantasy “The Wheel of Time” is being heralded as the next “Game of Thrones,” but there’s an important distinction, showrunner Rafe Judkins said.

“One thing that I’ve always maintained, which I think is very freeing in a way, is that ‘Wheel of Time predated ‘Game of Thrones,’” Judkins, 38, told The Post.

“The books were written before, and a lot of George R. R. Martin’s inspirations came from ‘Wheel of Time.’ So, we don’t have to be chasing ‘Game of Thrones.’ I think when you are in a position where you are chasing something, it can compromise the product sometimes.”

Now streaming its first three episodes (with additional episodes out on Fridays) and based on a 14 book series first published in 1990, “The Wheel of Time” follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”), a member of a powerful all-female magic organization as she arrives in a village and, aided by the warrior Lan (Daniel Henney), embarks on a journey with a handful of young men and women, including Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski), Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden), Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris). One of them is prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn, a position that will either save or doom the world.

The core characters in the “Wheel of Time:” Nynaeve (Zoe Robbins), Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris), Lan (Daniel Henney), Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), Egwene (Madeleine Madden), Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), and Rand (Joshua Stradowski).
Jan Thijs

“One thing that was important to us was trying to find ways to bring in new audiences who didn’t know the books,” said Judkins. “So, making the dragon reborn’s [identity] a mystery gives you a reason to get to know our main characters. It helps us give new audiences something clean and clear to hang onto in making that change for the show.”

Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) and Egwene (Madeleine Madden) face off against a threat in "The Wheel of Time."
Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) and Egwene (Madeleine Madden) face off against a threat in “The Wheel of Time.”

Judkins (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) grew up reading the novels with his mom, and although he maintained that “Wheel of Time” is its own unique world, he did turn to “Game of Thrones” and “Lord of The Rings” for help, he said.

Lan (Daniel Henney) stands in the woods with a sword in "The Wheel of Time."
Lan (Daniel Henney), a mysterious warrior, in “The Wheel of Time.”

“There have been so few shows in the history of TV made to the scale of what we’re making, ‘Game of Thrones’ is obviously a huge reference,” he said. “We’d be idiots not to talk to as many people as we could. So, I went and spent time on the set of ‘Thrones.’ It was just seeing the way they built and moved around different sets. That stuff is more helpful than [referring to] a specific scene, it’s really to understand how you holistically pull off a show like this.

“The book series itself is sort of the pillar that connects ‘Lord of the Rings’ to ‘Game of Thrones’ so we also did take a lot of inspiration from how ‘Lord of the Rings’ approached things — not just from a production perspective, but also storytelling and the way they built their landscapes.”

Egwene  (Madeleine Madden) and Rand (Joshua Stradowski) share a quiet moment sitting outside among rocks and grass in "The Wheel of Time."
Egwene (Madeleine Madden) and Rand (Joshua Stradowski) share a quiet moment in “The Wheel of Time.”
Jan Thijs

Judkins is also a former contestant on “Survivor,” (Season 11, in 2005) which he said also helped give him background to wrangle a sprawling fantasy adaptation.

“I’ve kind of faced the worst that can be thrown at you in being dropped in a jungle in Guatemala with just the clothes on my back for a month. So, when things get really rough — and they always do in production on television shows — I have a pretty strong sense that I’m going to make it through it.”

Lan (Daniel Henney) and Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) stroll through the village in "Wheel of Time."
Lan (Daniel Henney) and Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) stroll through the village in “Wheel of Time.”

“The Wheel of Time” has already been renewed for a Season 2. Judkins doesn’t anticipate having one season per book, since filming 14 seasons would put the younger actors “deep into their 40s” in the end. However, he does anticipate seeing the story to its conclusion, which has a big departure from the infamously controversial ending of “Game of Thrones.”

Egwene (Madeleine Madden) stands outside in her village in "The Wheel of Time."
Egwene (Madeleine Madden) in her village in “The Wheel of Time.”

“One of the things that makes ‘Wheel of Time’ so special is that the book series is famous for having a great ending, and not all book series are famous for that,” he said.

“So from the beginning, the thing that I’m most targeting is us being able to land this series, if we’re lucky enough to get there. There are five specific moments from the final book. I don’t want to spoil it, but there are incredible climaxes for these characters and that’s the kind of thing that hasn’t really been done before.”

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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