When most book adaptations happen, the stories go book to book. That’s not happening with Shadow and Bone. We get to meet the Crows earlier than in the book series, and we’re certainly not disappointed by that.
By the way, Kaz is not inspired by Tommy Shelby from Peaky Blinders, even though it does seem like it. Leigh Bardugo recently confirmed that, saying she hadn’t even watched Peaky Blinders until the pandemic but certainly sees why readers believed the inspiration was there.
While all the characters in the books have depth (and that will translate into the show), the Crows are among the most complex. They’re the ones you don’t always root for, but yet at the same time, you want to see them win or improve themselves.
What was it like playing these characters? What can we expect on Shadow and Bone? Freddy Carter, Amita Suman, and Kit Young shared all.
Praise for the Shadow and Bone writing team
When asked about the inspiration for his character and what it was like delving into Kaz, Freddy Carter started off with praise for the writing team. It’s something the leads of the series, especially Jessie Mei Li, also expressed in their interviews.
Bardugo’s books were also an excellent resource. Carter explained that he would look at the source material, and not just Six of Crows.
“I would quite often during filming—even though it’s not the same storyline and everything in the series is prequel to Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom—I would quite often go back to reread the character introduction to get that sense of him again. The more I got to work with Kit and Amita and everyone else and saw everyone react to him—because I had an idea of him in my head—when people start reacting, you look and go ‘maybe he’s a bit more this, or a bit more that.’ I was very lucky to have a great script, great source material, and a great cast to work with.”
Kaz has two distinct sides to him. He has to deal with his trauma, but he also has a lot of affection for Inej. The show brings in the affection a lot sooner than the books; it is clearer from that point of view.
“I tried to lean into both my confusion of it as an actor, but also for him,” Carter explained his process. “It’s really hard to define this stuff for someone who is all right talking about his emotions, but for someone like Kaz who can’t bear to talk about his emotions or go near that side of himself, it’s really confusing for him. The trauma has been at the forefront of everything he’s done.”
Kaz is one of those characters you’ll find jumps between emotions. Sometimes he’s tender, and sometimes he’s rough around the edges. We all love the grey characters, right?
Learning skills with their preferred weapons
Inej and Jesper are known for their signature weapons. In novels, that’s fine. You can just imagine these characters being skilled in their weapons of choice. But what about when it comes to acting? That’s something both Amita Suman and Kit Young talked about.
There were certainly some skills to be learned, and that training was a lot of fun for the actors.
Suman was gifted some beautiful knives for her character and had some circus training.
“I held them, played with them, and just tried to really get in touch with them,” she explained. “Also, I was very mindful of where the knives sat and made up stories about [what the knives are capable of] from a character’s point of view. She names all her knives after saints.”
Fans of the novels will know that Inej is religious. Following her religion helps her see the good in the world and in the people despite her darker upbringing and life.
Some of the training for Suman was about getting fitter. She knew that if she didn’t improve her fitness levels, she wouldn’t be able to do the character justice.
Young was not a natural when it came to handling his guns, and over time he was taken to the gun range. From there, the guns became an extension to him.
“I carry them literally everywhere,” Young shared. “It is such a quintessential thing to who the character is that it was necessary to get it right.”
Learning the skills was a challenge, but it was still a lot of fun.
At least it was mostly about tangible skills for the Crows. The actors did point out that others had a lot more technical elements to prepare for post-production due to all the VFX that would be needed.
Kit Young talks about Jesper’s gambling problem
One thing that stands out for Jesper in the books is his gambling problem. This could have been time-consuming to fit into Shadow and Bone, so what would the writers choose to do?
The gambling problem is something that crops up in the series. Young explained Jesper’s gambling problem, which isn’t necessarily a problem with gambling in itself.
“He’s an adrenaline junkie and he’s a thrill-seeker,” Young shared something he talked to Bardugo about. “At the heart, he’s a kid who gets in too deep.”
Young went onto paraphrase a quote in the book about Jesper, and that’s the fact that he’s most alive when he’s in a fight. It’s the life or death instinct that fuels him.
“That’s when we see his true colors, when he’ll fight to the last man and defend his friends. That was the easy thing to play as an actor, because I think playing a specific thing like his problem with gambling is, although it can be done, is slightly trickier. It was that need to get the thrill, that need to win, and I think that can go much broader than one activity; it can go character wide. Hopefully, that comes across.”
You’ll have to wait to see if it does come across. Spoiler: it’s going to be worth the wait.Next: 50 best TV shows on Netflix right now