When “Shadow and Bone”, which is based on Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grishaverse novels, arrived on Netflix, fans went gaga over the fantasy mystery series.
The first season is a combination of “Shadow and Bone” and “Six of Crows”. A second instalment is yet to be announced.
As much as the narrative is centred on Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), it also introduced the thieving Crows gang: Kaz Brekker aka Dirtyhands (Freddy Carter), who is the leader of the Crows, Inej Ghafa aka Wraith (Amita Suman) as well as Zemeni sharpshooter Jesper Fahey (Kit Young).
In an interview with the actors, they shed light on their character’s journey from Ketterdam across the Shadow Fold.
Suman admitted to her character influencing her in real life, too.
She shared: “There’s so much that I love about her, I could go on for hours. I think one of the things that I admire about her most is, first of all, it is a character I have never seen before, anywhere, or read about.
“The second thing is that, despite being handed horrible experiences and traumatic times in the past, she still finds the beauty and the positivity in the world and that is why she is this voice of reason and justice.
“And, in my personal life, she’s inspired me to make better choices. Trying to be good, in a selfless way.”
Carter described Ketterdam as “a sort of mashup of Amsterdam, Las Vegas, Gotham and Victoria England”.
He added: “It’s raining the whole time. There’s steam everywhere. It’s a melting pot of different cultures and energies.”
With there being a fair amount of action scenes, Young admitted to the trio being put through their paces.
Young revealed: “So I was given a couple of props to go home and practice with from day one.
“I smashed it by dropping it and was told it was the only pair as a joke. I spent ages in my room, practising. The ones used in the show, however, were considerably heavier.”
Suman, who does an impressive aerial acrobatic routine, weighed in: “Before coming into this, I never had any training.
“I didn’t know what to do with the knives either. I did a lot of stunt training.
“For me, one of my favourite parts was in learning how to do those aerial flips.
“At first, I couldn’t even climb. By the time we started filming, I could hold down a routine.”
“We were in very good hands with the stunt guys,” Young added.
On bringing this world to life, Carter admitted: “I fully appreciate it. I’m a member of the fan base.
“I think similarly to all the characters, and partly what the success of the books is down to, you can see yourself in them.
“They may be off doing these incredible things like robbing banks and robbing the Ice Court and breaking down the Shadow Fold, but they are very human.
“They’ve got very human problems that people can relate to.”
Interestingly, his character uses a cane for support, which is something Bardugo felt strongly about as she suffers from osteonecrosis and, at times, has to rely on the use of a cane.
Carter revealed: “Yeah, honestly it was slightly daunting and I felt a huge weight to get it right cause I knew how important it was to Leigh.
“And just reading interviews with Leigh and having spoken with her on set, it became clear very quickly, she wanted the cane to make Kas stronger.
“It was something he was proud of. It was something he embraced about himself. It adds to the legend and myth around him.”
When Suman was asked about her character’s brush with sexual violence and abuse, she explained she did a lot of research into it.
It is evident in a moment in one of the scenes where a person she doesn’t know touches her. Her discomfort is immediate through her physical reaction.
The actress added: “Even though she’s been broken by those things, she’s found a way to build herself into this new shape and be a strength and again find the beauty in the world.
“In the books, there is this part, where she talks about walking in Ketterdam and she has a fear of this man who visited her in the menagerie.”
Meanwhile, Young champions his queer character.
He shared: “At first when we started to film, I kind of forgotten about any kind of external pressures, it was just the fact of who the character was.
“I think one of the really interesting things about the show, and the books as a whole, is the kind of the way that people are repressed, isn’t obvious.
“One of the big exciting things for me, as a mixed-race black and white person, I wasn’t going in thinking, ‘Oh I’m a minority here.
“That stereotype doesn’t exist in this world. Similarly, with sexual orientation, like Jesper’s bisexuality, might be a surprise to the viewers if they didn’t see it coming but it isn’t something that is hidden or frowned upon.
“These are facts of life where a large number of people are accepted for who they are. And who is repressed might be surprising.”
“Shadow and Bone” has a lot of the hallmarks of the fantasy genre.
Carter added: “There’s good and evil, there’s the fantastical element and fantastical beasts and things like that.
“What I love so much about ‘Shadow and Bone’ is that she (Bardugo) took the idea of light versus dark and took it to the nth degree, she took physical elements of good and evil; people struggling to be good and people sucked in by evil.”
“Shadow and Bone” is currently streaming on Netflix.