The cast of Netflix’s Shadow and Bone on a bond that transcends the screen
Alexander Beer/Werth Represents
Ben James Adams
It was a crisp, sunlit Valentine’s Day morning in South West London. In a quiet residential street dotted with Victorian houses nestled a quotidian building – a photo studio. This secret location, as I was about to find out very shortly, was already abuzz with excitement for the cover shoot with the cast of Netflix’s hit fantasy series Shadow and Bone – Jessie Mei Li, Amita Suman, Freddy Carter, Kit Young and the newest addition to the series – Jack Wolfe.
Based on the best-selling Grishaverse novels by American author Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone amassed armies of fans across the globe when 55 million households streamed the show in the first 28 days since its release. The second season undoubtedly has no less of an ambition, with fans eagerly awaiting what adventures their favorite heroes (and antiheroes) will embark on next. Spoiler alert if you haven’t binge-watched the new series already – there will be continent-spanning adventures, unforeseen alliances, life-threatening heists, epic fight sequences and much much more.
The beating heart of the series truly is its talented cast which I got invited to meet and, as I amusingly assured my interviewees, also to interrogate, hoping that they’ll welcome a new inquisitive mind to their inner circle with none other but open arms. No pressure here at all, folks.
When I stepped into the studio at 10 am sharp, I was greeted with sounds of music and roaring laughter which instantly made me feel at ease. Fast-forward to a few hours later in the afternoon, this comforting feeling, created by the genuineness of our cover story subjects, still hasn’t left the building. When we planted ourselves on the most eclectic pieces of furniture (puffy pink chairs, black leather sofas – you name it), with portable heaters blasting warm air, I reminisced of a crackling campfire where stories are yet to be shared. Stories told by our cover stars – Jessie Mei Li, Amita Suman, Freddy Carter, Kit Young and Jack Wolfe.
The cast of Shadow & Bone featured on the Digital Cover of The Laterals. Photographed in London, UK by Alexander Beer.
Amita Suman wears
Outfit and jewelry CHANEL
Jessie Mei Li wears
Dress AMI; Jewelry Fabergé; Shoes Versace
Freddy Carter wears
Outfit Saint Laurent; Jewelry Cartier
Jack Wolfe wears
Outfit Saint Laurent; Jewelry Cartier
Kit Young wears
Jacket Byblos; Shirt Altar; Pants Givenchy
Hello everyone, and thank you so much for joining The Laterals for a chat. It’s lovely to see everyone here today.
Kit: It’s lovely to meet you too.
Amita: Welcome to The Crows and Grisha circle!
Jessie: I’ll be an honorary Crow today.
I thought that we could start our interview with an icebreaker question. Could everyone tell me two things about themselves – one that’s true and one that’s…false.
Freddy: And you’re going to try and guess?
Everyone will. This icebreaker is all about the collective effort. And your names don’t count, as I know them all.
Freddy: Ah, it’s harder then, as we know each other so well.
Kit: We must do a deep dive.
I can see the wheels spinning already. Who’d like to start?
Freddy: Okay, here we go. My favorite color is yellow, and my favorite drink is whiskey sour.
Kit: I’d say that the former is a lie. You do enjoy a whiskey sour.
Jessie: I don’t think you have a favorite color, and I thought you only drink whiskey sour.
Freddy: Correct. My favorite drink is whiskey sour.
Amita: And your favorite color is blue.
Amita, may I just say that your reaction after Freddy mentioned that his favorite color might be yellow was sort of a give out.
Amita: I’m so sorry, but I’m such a giggler. (laughs)
Who’s ready to go next? Well done, Freddy.
Kit: Freddy was ready.
Jessie: I’m such an open book, and I think that everybody knows everything about me. It’s so hard!
Amita: I’d be saying very different things if it was just us sitting here.
You can always use the term called off the record, which means that I’ll cut that part out of the interview, and what was said will remain only in this circle.
Kit: My truth is bleep; my lie is bleep.
Jack: I’ve got one. My hair has been going grey since I was 16. I had a childhood dog called Ben.
Jessie: I’m so not convinced by your childhood dog named Ben.
Kit: I think you’re being savvy here.
Freddy: I think so as well.
Jack: Oh, do you?
Kit: I think the first fact isn’t really a fact, as you’ve given us the wrong age.
Jack: It’s an interesting path you’ve taken here, Kit. Possibly, a good one. I started going grey when I was 14.
Kit: For the record – that means I know him.
Amita: I got a good one. When I was in high school, I pierced my ears with six piercings in each. And then I passed out. The second thing, when I was younger… (pauses)
Jessie: Ah, no!
I think we all know what this means.
Amita: I’m sorry guys, I don’t know how to lie. Now there was this trend when everyone was getting their ears pierced multiple times. I found my odd earrings and told myself – ‘I’m going to do it.’ And I did it. Six here, six there. It was a poor poor decision.
Jessie: I’d be horrified.
Amita: Then I thought that I could pass out now. And then I passed out. (laughs)
Kit: Finally, I’m allowed to pass out.
Freddy: That’s a new thing. I didn’t know this about you.
You’re finding out new things about one another, which is the sole purpose of this icebreaker exercise.
Jessie: I think I got one too. I recently started playing the bass guitar. My other thing is that I recently gave birth to two furry sons.
Amita: That one’s true!
Kit: You gave birth?
Freddy: No, no. They’re not furry sons – they’re furry daughters! (laughs)
Jessie: That’s right. My housemates and I have two cats we thought were boys, but we recently found out they’re both girls.
Freddy: They’re called Maurice and Hamish.
Jessie: They’re my hairy sons.
The Hairy Sons – this almost sounds like a band name.
Jessie: Yes, Jessie’s Hairy Sons. (laughs)
“I think everyone’s got their best interests at heart, and no one’s weirdly competitive. We all genuinely have a lot of love for each other. You guys do some silly shit, but I have to do a lot of mad shit as Alina, including flailing my arms around. A lot. We all do those things surrounded by people that we genuinely trust. It makes all the difference, and that’s one of the most important things for me.”—Jessie Mei Li
When did you start taking bass guitar lessons?
Jessie: I had my second lesson yesterday. Guys, I’m really good at it. Your turn, Kit.
Kit: Mine are just about my favorite things. My favorite flavor of ice cream is strawberry. I know this is quite vanilla of me.
Jessie: Vanilla is vanilla.
Kit: All judgements aside, please! My favorite genre of music is jazz. Which is the lie?
Jessie: I would say the latter.
Jack: Maybe the path you’re taking us down has rockier roads. (laughs)
Kit: Oh, very good!
Jack: When we’re talking jazz, are we talking about a specific type of it? Also, you do like ice cream. That’s a given.
Kit: Yes, that’s not up for debate. It isn’t a double bluff, either. I do enjoy ice cream. Greatly.
Amita: When we were in New York, you took us to this jazz place where we saw the most incredible performance.
Jack: But this doesn’t mean it’s your favorite type of music.
Kit: Did I say it? I don’t know. Which is the lie?
Freddy: I think the second one is the lie.
Kit: Correct! It’s my second favorite genre of music, and you were this close to being fooled. My favorite genre is classical music.
Amita: I didn’t know that about you.
Kit: Here you go! And here we are, sitting around the fire…
Amita: Telling stories.
I’m thrilled to announce that you all passed the icebreaker question exam.
Amita: Are you going to tell us one now?
Jessie: Oh, yes!
Very well. In my native language, which is Lithuanian, my name means the word mist.
Jack: That’s amazing!
The second thing about me is that I managed to get a massive birthday cake into a Harry Styles concert.
Freddy: I feel that with the second… Maybe the cake was stopped. You tried to take it and maybe didn’t make it.
Jessie: Yes, you tried.
Kit: Or was it consumed on the way?
Or it was consumed by the security guards, yes.
Freddy: The cake didn’t make it. I’m glad that your name means mist.
Kit: That’s a lovely name.
I think it’s very Shadow and Bone, isn’t it? I would fit straight right in the Grishaverse.
Kit: It is! Also, no offence to anyone here, but yours true or false were the best as the rest of us know everything about each other.
I was also preparing for the interview. Now we’re here to talk about the second season of Shadow and Bone. The people of Netflix were very kind and shared the screeners of the new season.
Jessie: What did you think about the new season?
I genuinely loved it, and I’m not saying this because I’ve got you lovely lot sitting in front of me. In season one, we get to know all your characters and see the development of their storylines gradually, and in season two, the viewers are thrown straight into the action. It’s not up to my knowledge how the events will unfold after episode five, but I think the first episodes will be a delicious treat to the fans. How did the four of you feel, returning to Leigh Bardugo’s universe and Jack – what was it like for you stepping into it for the first time as Wylan Hendriks?
Jessie: It’s so bizarre because it’s been quite a long time since we filmed the first season. We’ve all lived our lives since then, and I think we’re all the same but also completely different. For me, season one was a completely new experience, and it was great to come back having that level of knowledge. I was able to enjoy it all in a new way.
Amita: I love my job. My favorite moment is when I hear the word action. Then I get to completely forget about myself. I also love my character so much. I’m such a big fan, so to be back in her shoes again and feel this level of purpose was invigorating. Also, being back with you guys in that world and sharing what I love with the people I love was such a nice place to be.
Freddy: As you said, Jack and other cast members have joined the new season, and some people were going back and putting on the old shoes and the old coats, stepping into that universe again. But then we were getting this sort of projection of excitement with these new perspectives and stories in that world which were really thrilling.
Kit: We also got to see what the show was. The first time around, we thought that we were making something that we thought was cool. Then we got lucky and found out that other people agreed, which was lovely. Then we went back to do a second season, and it’s not about pressure or things we have to deliver, but we all know what we’re in now. We know what that world is, and that makes you relax. I had to remind myself to actually work hard. Being back with your mates and then having new people, especially Jack in my case, joining the cast and opening that world up even more, was wonderful.
Jack: It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever done because of how close and welcoming the cast was. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. And it’s daunting. Well, it could’ve been daunting joining something that’s already a very established world and playing a character, who’s established in the minds of the readers, but in the series is brand new. All of that was put aside just because of how kind the team and the cast were. I got to enjoy the ride rather than being scared of it.
Amita: We did a scene with five of Crows in the diner at the beginning of season two, and I remember this feeling of complete contentment when you sat next to me. It wasn’t only because you were doing a brilliant job as Wylan. Your personality, your energy… You are Wylan. I was thanking God we have someone else who I love just as deeply as I love everybody else.
Jessie: I haven’t experienced any scenes with you. I crashed your costume fitting – went storming in and was like – ‘wait, Jack Wolfe’s here.’ (laughs)
Jack: I recall the first time I met all of you. That’s how much of an effort everybody made to make me feel welcome. I was also lucky because Wylan didn’t have to be confident at the beginning, so I put my fear and whatever nerves I was feeling into the character, which was very helpful.
“I have a deep answer to this question, and I think it’s something that people don’t talk about enough when it comes to Leigh Bardugo’s writing. To play Wylan is a wonderful experience. He gets to be dangerous; he gets to be a part of a band of criminals, and he gets to fight his inner demons, but never along the way is he punished for the love he finds. And that doesn’t even come into question.”—Jack Wolfe
I stan a real friendship, and there’s such a great supportive energy on set today. You can’t fake it.
Kit: That’s what you think. It’s a well-oiled machine.
Jessie: We’re all just very good actors. (laughs)
I think the element which unites all the characters is that sooner or later, they do realize that they can’t execute all their plans – whether that’d be a journey to foreign lands or another clever heist – by themselves. There has to be a support network that they could rely on. Would anyone like to look back at that moment when you realized that there’s also this beautiful friendship brewing here with these people sitting in this circle right now?
Kit: It’s a circumstance thing in a lot of ways. We shot the show in Budapest, and what was very interesting is that lots of us didn’t have the experiences of that place. We discovered the setting that we were in together. That’s naturally quite bonding.
Jessie: It’s like a school trip.
Kit: Yes. We’re all at similar stages in our careers as well. I think this is the biggest project that any of us has done. I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s the experience that I found that we had as a group. People do say to us – ‘you guys seem to be close’, and I always just go – ‘yes.’
Jessie: I think everyone’s got their best interests at heart, and no one’s weirdly competitive. We all genuinely have a lot of love for each other. You guys do some silly shit, but I have to do a lot of mad shit as Alina, including flailing my arms around. A lot. We all do those things surrounded by people that we genuinely trust. It makes all the difference, and that’s one of the most important things for me.
Jack: I knew I was joining a very well-oiled machine where the cast were friends, which makes you think that you don’t want to be the one who comes in and disrupts or ruins that. It’s also funny because the first day at a new job really goes to your head, and you feel extremely nervous.
I tend to write down keywords or phrases that describe my interviewees when I’m preparing for an interview and doing my research. For example, I made a note that Kit doesn’t like cake. If you could pick a few keywords to describe the new season and your character’s journey in it, what would those words be?
Kit: I would say vulnerable, emotional, and playful. And I’m going to put that in a book.
Freddy: I would say fighting, revenge, trauma.
Well, that gives quite a different vibe, doesn’t it? (laughs)
Kit: We’re in the same show. We’re in the same scenes!
Freddy: We’re best friends! (laughs)
Amita: Fighting for and against love.
Kit: That’s good. Inej Ghafa – fighting for and against love.
Jessie: I love that!
Kit: An evening with Amita Suman.
Freddy: A memoir.
Amita: That’s an idea. Netflix, hellooooo. (laughs)
Jessie: What’s Alina about…
Quoting Jessie Mei Li herself, she’s doing some crazy shit.
Jessie: Yes, doing some crazy shit. Alina’s saving the world, doing the absolute most. She’s pretty traumatized yet powerful.
Jack: It’s hard to describe Wylan in a few words, so I’ll use phrases. Wylan is possibly about disrupting the status quo and being underestimated, but he’s also about playfulness and joy.
Jessie: That describes you as well!
Jack: I’m disrupting the status quo. (laughs)
Jessie – let’s talk about Alina. I think one of my favorite features of your character – and this was also beautifully depicted in your performance on screen – is the growing confidence in her inner power, which gives the viewer a chance to see the other side of her. I think it’s also so inspiring to the viewers like me who, perhaps, are also battling the imposter syndrome when so often you have to put this sort of a…
Exactly, a façade. And in season two, we see Alina scraping that façade away and embracing who she really is. What was the most thrilling for you to explore this season with your character, and were there any specific layers you had to unpeel from Alina and yourself?
Jessie: When we meet Alina in season one, she acts quite cowardly. She doesn’t want her power. She’s also afraid and dependent on Mal. I was talking about it with the creatives of the show, and it’s more like a thing for me, but each time Alina gets amplifiers, I wanted them to make subtle changes about her. After getting the first amplifier in season one – the Stag – Alina found her inner steadiness. The Sea Whip explored the anger and rage she pushed aside. I think a lot of her core is about hiding away, and it was quite a challenge to have this reluctant protagonist who never believed it was feasible for her to lead the Second Army. That was all quite fun, you know, trying to work out how to do that all with her voice and generally giving her a different energy. It was all eye-opening and taught me a lot about myself and things I want to work on as well.
Freddy, this season we get to see the backstory of Kaz’s life and what has molded him into this noir antihero that is so beloved by fans. You’ve mentioned that you felt a great sense of ownership with this character – how important was that for your character’s development and yourself in season two?
Freddy: After reading and shooting season one, I remember thinking – ‘I hope that he won’t come across as someone who just does a lot of bad stuff for no reason.’ (laughs)
When you read the books, the antihero aspect is made very clear, and you understand why Kaz does the things he does. What I was really excited about reading in season two and then finally getting to do was this huge release when the audience finally understands quite why he can’t talk about certain things, get in touch with his emotions, or why he pushes people away. And, hopefully, that will feel exciting to the viewers. I know that for the fans of the books and the fans of the show, it’s a pivotal moment, so some pressure came along with it. But the good kind of pressure.
I’d like to open this question to the circle – how important the character ownership is to all of you?
Kit: This show is quite specific because the characters are source material and have existed before we did them. And with that comes a certain expectation from the people who would engage with that source material. You’re either living up to something, going against something or trying to find a middle ground. I think you have more license with something fresh or where nobody knows the characters until you’ve portrayed them. What’s important to me when building a character is – listen, as an actor, I’m a hired gun, and you’ve chosen to give me the job. I have to prove to myself why it makes sense to have chosen me as opposed to another actor, so I have to maintain a certain level of ownership over my choices. Otherwise, go and get someone better. If I feel that sense of accomplishment that I have achieved with something I own, then I can at least rest a bit and go – ‘you know, I think I did a good day’s work today.’
Jack: That’s such an interesting way to describe that. I love it. We also talk a lot as actors about bringing ourselves to a role versus playing characters that are far away from us. But it’s interesting playing characters that feel close to us. I saw myself in Wylan when I was reading the books, and that’s the temptation there – to put yourself in those situations. I may not be making any sense right now, but when you get self-conscious about it, whether you’re right or wrong to play that someone, you lose your focus.
Kit: You’re right. I remember when we did our chemistry read, I could see how Jack was the perfect Wylan for this set of Crows. When I auditioned, I thought I might be the Jesper for this Kaz and this Inej, so it’s also about where you fit. If it was a completely different set of people, I might’ve been a terrible choice because they might’ve gone for a different aesthetic. You find your way of making yourself feel right for it.
Jack: And you’re a part of the project as it is, not as it could be with somebody else. You’re right because you were right in that set of circumstances. I know what it’s like to see the characters I love in books. You want them to look or feel a certain way, and as an actor, you go – ‘I’m the person who’s going to walk the first time as this character or breathe or interact with the characters that they don’t interact with within the books.’ I’m the person who ultimately decides how those things go. But yes, bringing back to the fact that if it was you, it was you. There’s something about those qualities that work within this adaptation and this world. I went really too deep into all of this. (laughs)
Kit: We’re here for the deep dives.
And we’re here for the deep conversations. Guys, what does your process of stepping into the character look like – do you use the power of smells, props, or perhaps, sounds of music to step into one’s mindset?
Amita: I think that it’s impossible to show what or who the character is just within one scene as it comes to taping, auditions and taking that pressure off. For me, it becomes a sensory experience, so I use smells quite a bit as I grew up surrounded by them. Also, it always comes down to purpose, really. I have to remind myself of that purpose and be in the character’s shoes. Literally. Inej’s boots are tight and made of leather with a slight heel…
Jessie: You do have a shoe thing.
Amita: I do, weirdly enough. In a nutshell, it’s reminding me of that purpose, having that pin-straight posture and also taking a breath. As soon as the crew hits action, I take a deep breath. That’s how I do it.
Freddy: I remember when we were shooting season one, and the first time I had to do a scene without the cane, it really really threw me off. (laughs)
Could you remind us of the scene you have in mind?
Freddy: It was back in the first season, episode five. Kaz was wearing his disguise, walking through the Palace. The whole point of the scene was that he was walking without his cane for the first time. I thought – ‘I don’t know how to do this without the cane’, but then I questioned myself – ‘have I been using it as a crutch for those four months?’. It turns out that I was. (laughs)
“It was interesting to see what’s underneath it all because this season’s about the journey of his identity and Jesper becoming who he truly is. It’s a journey that we’ve not really seen before in the show. I’ve played a lot of “funny friends” in the past and that’s fun, but there’s a limit to how far the character can go. If you, as an actor, can find something underneath that, it really gives the character some gravitas.”—Kit Young
That cane will also become the weapon. Spoiler alert. I must say that there were some beautifully choreographed fight scenes.
Freddy: It becomes the weapon, yes.
Jack: Those scenes are so fun to watch.
Any thoughts to add about your process – Jessie, Jack?
Jessie: I tend to have a very clear idea in my head. When I’m reading the script, I can see Alina, and I think I know her quite well to understand how she’d react to certain things. In season one, I picked a song for her. It’s quite a difficult thing to describe, but do you know the feeling you get from a piece of music? I think that’s what I wanted to capture for her, so I picked a piece Leigh Bardugo listened to when she was reading the books. It’s called Primavera. I don’t know if you know this song, but it has this beautiful build to this crescendo moment. It’s also very emotional. In season two, I chose another piece of music called The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra by Anna von Hausswolff. There’s something quite primal about it, and the artist shrieks in it quite a lot. This piece helped me to form Alina’s inner world.
Jack: I’m a very visual person, so visual means are important to me.
Kit: Pinterest board. (laughs)
Jack: I do have a board of references which includes postcards, pictures, paintings, bits of clothing and poems which I feel can say something better than I can. Ultimately, it’s also being in collaboration with what’s going around you, such as speaking to costume designers, figuring out why Wylan has chosen this waistcoat with pockets, what’s going to be in those pockets, and then building the character that way, so it’s not complete ownership but also a collaboration.
Amita, I think Inej is such a beautifully written character, and this season truly takes her from the shadows into the daylight. Not to give out any spoilers, but we also see many different sides of her, don’t we? How did you prepare for such a season where your character has so many different nuances brought to light?
Amita: I think you’ve said the prime word – preparation. Like I said before, trying to show who the character is in one scene is almost impossible. I also think everyone has a prime purpose and core values, and I think this season with Inej – she’s losing the faith that she had. Every time she’s tested, that faith is withering away even though she puts on a fight trying to keep it there with all the other things happening. Also, it’s all about collaboration. The ideas I came up with and the choices that I made weren’t only just my own. It was to do with who I was working with on the day, to do with the directing, to do with so many things. It was nice to play different parts of her and not just be this ninja who can disappear anytime at any given moment. My secret is preparation and then letting go of it. Also, trusting that you know the character.
Freddy: But you did enjoy disappearing at any given moment.
Amita: I did. Also, these two are so tall that when I stand behind them, you can’t see me.
Jessie: There’s a shot in one of the episodes where you walk behind Kit all the time.
Amita: And no one would know. It helps to be teeny tiny. (laughs)
This ties in with my next question – what have you taken away from this season? I think we know Amita’s answer – pulling off the disappearing act. (laughs)
Freddy: I’ve got to learn some sleight of hand. Magic. I like whipping that out now and then, making coins disappear. That’s a very practical thing. (laughs)
Kit: It’s the first job I’ve done where I’ve returned to a character I played before. What’s great with all of the roles is that there are so many high jinks for us to explore and adventures to go on. Even now, I’m not quite satisfied. There should be more we can do, and it’ll be great to get the chance to do so, but you leave that up to the greater powers. I think that made me discover that there’s always more to find. The what’s next thing is interesting to me.
Jack: What have I taken away… Apart from a gang of friends? Well, there was also a practical learning experience.
Do you mean that you became an expert on explosives?
Jack: I’m really good. (laughs) I also didn’t have much experience in front of a camera before, as I came from a theatre background, so I learnt a lot of technical details.
Jessie: I feel like, in some ways, playing Alina has taught me to accept my power a bit more as a human being. I think in the past, my life has been a bit of okay, yes, sure, whereas now I’m a bit less afraid to be powerful.
Kit, let’s talk all things Jesper. He’s charming, witty, and dangerous, but he’s also carrying a secret about his identity that some of The Crows know about, and some – don’t. What were your thoughts when you read the script and found out that his secret will be revealed oh-so-soon in the season?
Kit: For the keen-eyed viewers, you can go back to season one and see some points where his secret is hinted at. I think these moments will be like little Easter eggs for the fans. The surprise to me was that we dived into this plotline right at the beginning, in episode one. When it comes to Jesper, it’s important that there’s depth in his character too. As fun and lovely as he’s to play, there are a lot of times when he uses humor to put up his façade. I think I do that a bit in life too. He also doesn’t want to burden people with his personal problems, so he finds ways of getting through them. It was interesting to see what’s underneath it all because this season’s about the journey of his identity and Jesper becoming who he truly is. It’s a journey that we’ve not really seen before in the show. I’ve played a lot of “funny friends” in the past and that’s fun, but there’s a limit to how far the character can go. If you, as an actor, can find something underneath that, it really gives the character some gravitas. It immediately makes it more interesting to me and, hopefully, more interesting to the viewer.
Freddy: Suddenly, I wish I haven’t said making a coin disappear. (laughs)
Kit: But it’s a good trick.
Freddy: I’m happy with it.
Does anyone have any coins that we could use for Freddy’s magic trick?
Kit: No coins.
Perhaps, you can make a cup of Breakfast tea, or a sandwich disappear?
Freddy: Nothing that impressive, I’m afraid. I’m sorry. (laughs)
Jessie: A one-trick kind of man.
I’m sure you’ll learn more tricks before shooting season three. Question to you all – if there’d be an element of the Grishaverse that you could bring to London in the year 2023, what would that be?
Jessie: I’d bring back the Sea Whip in the Thames. (laughs)
Kit: The Sea Whip in the Thames?
Amita: I love that!
Jack: I know! I have a deep answer to this question, and I think it’s something that people don’t talk about enough when it comes to Leigh Bardugo’s writing. To play Wylan is a wonderful experience. He gets to be dangerous; he gets to be a part of a band of criminals, and he gets to fight his inner demons, but never along the way is he punished for the love he finds. And that doesn’t even come into question. He’s allowed to be the person that he is, and shooting that was tough because as a queer person now, on set or…
Kit: Not everybody agrees.
Jack: And in Leigh Bardugo’s universe it’s just a reality. The fact that you can do all these brilliant, crazy and complex things and also get to love someone is really cool.
Jessie: I think when it comes to Leigh’s characters, they’re celebrating diversity and inclusivity at their finest. She actively writes things such as that Jesper has ADHD. Isn’t that something which was discussed, Kit?
Kit: We don’t necessarily have that terminology on the show, but yes, those things are all there.
Jessie: I think that’s the reason why so many people are so invested in those characters. They’re relatable. The Crows are a band of misfits, and essentially the same applies to Mal and Alina. There’s a lot you can latch onto, and the thing you said about all the queer characters…
Jack: It never feels tokenistic.
Jessie: Not tokenistic at all.
Jack: And they get to be bad, and they get to do crazy things. Blow stuff up.
Jessie: I think especially for younger people, someone may watch the show and feel – ‘I’m a Wylan’ – and then they’ll see your performance and the journey that the character goes on. I think it’s just beautiful.
I couldn’t agree more. There’s something for everyone in the stories that you’re bringing to life, and it’s one of the reasons why the show is so successful. Would anyone like to add something else?
Kit: I would bring from the Grishaverse to London 2023… The Fold.
This conversation just took a very dark turn.
Kit: Dividing London.
Freddy: Down the Thames.
“Every time she’s tested, that faith is withering away even though she puts on a fight trying to keep it there with all the other things happening. Also, it’s all about collaboration. The ideas I came up with and the choices that I made weren’t only just my own. It was to do with who I was working with on the day, to do with the directing, to do with so many things. It was nice to play different parts of her and not just be this ninja who can disappear anytime at any given moment.”—Amita Suman
Kit: Down the Thames. I’m joking. I think we all are spoiled, and I also feel incredibly biased here, but I get some fantastic costumes. Let’s bring some of that Grishaverse fashion. Come on. The top hat, the red leather coat…Yes, I’d bring some of the fashion. Can you imagine everybody in London walking around in those clothes? The city would look like Ketterdam. (laughs)
Amita: Although I think I’d get arrested if I was carrying my knives everywhere. I guess that goes to weaponry, not fashion. And that’s not something I would bring back.
Kit: Yes, maybe not as much the violence, but the outfits. Also, the Sea Whip, acceptance, and The Fold.
Amita: I would also bring back the flying ship. But with heaters. Done.
We’ve talked about the importance of the support network, but I also wanted to ask how you deal with rejections.
Jessie: I’m very rejection sensitive because of ADHD. But also… Sometimes you have to think that what’s not for me, it’s not for me. I think we all have similar attitudes. Some things aren’t for us because we’re here. Right now. When you think about auditions, you have to ask yourself – maybe I wouldn’t have worked that well with you. And it’s okay because I’d rather work with people I’m on the same page with.
Kit: If you get an acceptance, it has to be for the right reasons. If we’re talking professionally, I don’t want to do a job which you’ve offered to me because you liked the idea even without thinking it through. And you don’t have an idea what we’re going to do. I want to make sure that if you’re choosing me, we’re going to do something that it’s worthwhile doing. What I’m saying is – reject me until you’re sure. Sometimes you get rejections that do hurt, and you just have to find your way. I think there’s always going to be something else that will make you as happy or as sad as you might be about that thing.
Jack: It’s like when you said earlier as well…
Kit: He has to quote me.
Jack: To quote the illustrious Kit Young – being right for something isn’t just being right for the part, but also being right for the character in this setting, this production, this directing, this cast. Luckily, having friends that do similar things or understand the specifics of this job and are happy to go for a coffee or a day trip to Brighton also helps.
Amita: It comes down to artistic value, really. If I get rejected for something, I don’t think about it anymore. I move on to the next thing. No questions asked. I think all of us have shared a fair share of rejection, and this show says it all – I got accepted for something that I absolutely adore, I made great friends, and that was worth saying yes to.
Kit: It also opens up other doors because if you didn’t get rejected, you wouldn’t be able to do other things.
Freddy: I’ve recently finished reading this very brilliant book about creativity, and it speaks about how as creatives… There’s sort of two strands to it – there’s your creative ego, and there’s your creative soul. Rejection is like a failure, and failure only ever hurts your ego, which is important because it shapes your taste and things like that, but it’s also superficial. A failure can never touch your creative soul. When you get a rejection, and it’s hard to do that, you must not listen to how your ego is hit. Go to your creative soul, which can’t be touched and ask – what are we doing next? What can I create to feed that? Because all I want to do is create. If someone doesn’t want to work with me – that’s fine because I can still create.
What was the book called?
Freddy: It’s called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She wrote Eat Pray Love which I also read.
Kit: I was just about to say – save the best for the last.
Freddy: She wrote a very beautiful book, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys creating and wants to harness their creativity.
Johanna Cree Brown/Gary Represents using Oribe
Michael Gray/David Artists
Jada-Elize Lorentz/Premier Hair and Make-up
Bernadette Da Conceição
Nicholas Alexander Willis
“When you read the books, the antihero aspect is made very clear, and you understand why Kaz does the things he does. What I was really excited about reading in season two and then finally getting to do was this huge release when the audience finally understands quite why he can’t talk about certain things, get in touch with his emotions, or why he pushes people away. And, hopefully, that will feel exciting to the viewers.”—Freddy Carter
I’m writing the book title down as I’d love to read it. Now before diving into a few quickfire questions – what projects will you be working on next?
Kit: The next project I’ll be in is called The Beautiful Game. It’s a football film based on an event called The Homeless World Cup. The story will follow these homeless English lads who are trying to win the cup in a tournament set in Rome. It’s a lovely, heart-warming story which we created together with the people from the organization, and we’re very very proud of it.
Freddy: Hopefully, later this year, I got a couple of projects coming out. One’s called The Doll Factory, which is a Victorian psychological thriller for Paramount+, and the other is Masters of the Air – a Second World War American air force drama for Apple TV+.
Amita: I don’t know yet.
Jessie: And I think I may start moonlighting as a cat burglar. On the roof. (laughs)
Kit: We’ll see you on the roof! (laughs)
Jessie: That’s all I’ve got.
Jack: And I’ll be the assistant holding your bag.
The time has come for some quickfire questions. Is there a movie, television series or play you think deserved a better finale?
Kit: The end of Game of Thrones.
Jessie: That’s what I was going to say – Game of Thrones.
Kit: The end of Star Wars.
Freddy: Those are good answers.
Kit: Also, Top of The Pops.
Name one thing about you that surprises others the most.
Amita: People always get surprised that I was born in Nepal.
Freddy: People are always surprised that I was born in Plymouth. It blows their minds. (laughs)
Kit: People are surprised at how boring I am. I’m quite mundane on a day-to-day basis. I get to do fun things with my job, but overall, I’m not nearly as exciting as the characters I play. Sorry.
Jessie: I really don’t know, actually.
Freddy: People are surprised that you play the bass guitar.
Jessie: I had two lessons, so it’s very surprising even to me. And people are surprised about how good I am. (laughs)
Jack: I don’t think I’ve got one either… People seem to be surprised when I say that I took boxing for a while.
Amita: Oh, wow!
And the last question – what’s something you said you’ll do but haven’t done yet?
Kit: I want to climb a couple of mountains – Kilimanjaro, and Fuji, and I would love to do Everest. I haven’t done any of them, but we’ll see. Maybe I’ll get there. I’ll let you know. You’ll know because I’ll scream and shout at the top.
Amita: I’d love to take singing lessons.
Jessie: You don’t need singing lessons.
Amita: I think we all know that I do.
Is it for a specific project for yourself?
Amita: For myself. Everyone here can sing, and I think singing is just so beautiful.
Jack: I’d love to get really really good at cooking.
Kit: I thought you said to get really good-looking.
Jack: What? (laughs)
Kit: You’re already there – stop it. Chef Wolfe.
Chef Wolfe does have a nice ring to it!
Jessie: I’d like to… To get arrested. I’ve never experienced that. I’m joking. I might go travelling as I haven’t done that before. Just go out into an open road.
Kit: If you’ll go somewhere near a mountain, you’ll hear me.
Jessie: I’ve never stalked Kit up a mountain, so I’m going to follow him around. (laughs)
Freddy: Mine is to direct a feature film.
Amita: And that’s my next project.
Freddy: All of these guys will be in it.
Kit: On a mountain.
Amita: And with me singing. (laughs)