Simon Pegg needn’t be jealous even though Nick Frost (Dr. Who, Spaced), his constant collaborator, most notably in the hilarious Cornetto film trilogy, has a new on-screen bestie thanks to his new gig on AMC’s Into the Badlands.
After all, Frost admits it’s really more of a friendship of convenience, a proximity principle situation, than anything else. “When Season 2 starts, Sunny [Daniel Wu] wakes up in a sort of mining prison literally chained to this man, Baije, [played by] me, and Baije has an eye for opportunity, an eye for an opening,” Frost says. “He sees that he could potentially use [Sunny] to get out of there. Or at the very least stay alive or get ahead in this prison somehow. It’s funny because I think Sunny thinks he’s using Baije to help him escape, but Baije’s really using Sunny.”
As can be seen in the exclusive clip above from the March 19 premiere, they don’t exactly hit it off at first. But when Baije discovers that Sunny was the clipper for the most powerful baron, you can practically see the wheels turning in his mind. Frost assures us that with time they get closer. Maybe.
“Daniel and I have a natural chemistry as people. We really get on. We really like each other, and that transfers to the story and to the relationship that Sunny has with Baije,” he explains. “I think people who liked the first season will really enjoy [getting] to see a different part of Sunny. He’s not just an assassin or someone who’s thinking, ‘Hmm, my life could be different. I’m bored of killing. I need to look after my potential family.’ He bobs. It’s nice to see Baije emotionally prodding Sunny throughout to see what he can get away with, to see whether or not he can laugh at jokes. I think it’s a new dynamic for the show. Of course, Baije is also not telling Sunny everything. He isn’t going to lay all of his cards on the table. He is too clever for that.”
To prepare for the shift in scenery and storyline, here are five things you should know about the mysterious new character.
1. FROST WILL PROVIDE HIS TRADEMARK COMIC RELIEF TO THE GENERALLY GRIM AND GRUESOME WORLD. Up to this point, there hasn’t been much to laugh about in the series. Baije will change that, and Frost believes it is totally reasonable to assume that not everyone who inhabits the Badlands is dour all the time. “Who’s to say that people don’t have a laugh just because they’re in a post-apocalyptic s*** box where you essentially have to catch and eat rats to live? Or that there’s not a club or a disco or pubs? I think you’ll find a balance wherever you live and whatever reality you live in. There will still be laughter and comedy, no matter how s***** life is. That’s what Baije is,” Frost says. “He’s that part of this big world that Miles and Al created.”
2. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN HE CAN’T HOLD HIS OWN IN A FIGHT. THIS IS A SHOW THAT PLACES GREAT IMPORTANCE ON KILLER FIGHT SCENES AFTER ALL. “I essentially spent weeks and weeks and weeks fighting. I think there’s like four or five really big set-piece fights, which took days and days and days to film. One fight took 10 days to shoot,” Frost says. “Right at the beginning of the process, I spoke with Daniel and the fight director and Hong Kong choreographer [because] I was kind of keen that the stuff Baije could do was the stuff that I could do essentially. I didn’t want to see Baije suddenly using wire work or doing a series of flying, spinning heel kicks. That would put people out of the story. It’s fine for the Widow or Daniel because they are imbued with the chi energy and power, but Baije is a wrestler, a barroom brawler. He’s spiteful and underhanded, so he’s that kind of fighter. I don’t want to say I wanted to be able to use my own particular type of skills — that makes me sound like Liam Neeson in Taken. I wanted it to be realistic. We did at least one [fight scene] while chained together and that was different, and they also had some fun with Sunny having to deal with that limitation.”
3. THE STAR WARS CHARACTER BAIJE IS MOST SIMILAR TO IS HAN SOLO’S FRIEND TURNED BETRAYER. “He has a touch of Lando Calrissian about him. He’s a lovable rogue. He’s a pirate. He’s morally dubious. He’s a weird one, a funny character,” Frost says. “I don’t know if you want to introduce him to your parents, but I think he’d also be pretty good at meeting parents.” And while Frost loves to find the funny, this guy is not “just a clown who pops up and says something funny.”
4. THE BEARD IS HIS OWN. “The beard is full real. I spent about two years growing it, and every job I’ve done [since], no one said, ‘You have to cut it off.’ So I thought, ‘All right. I’m just going to go with it.’ There aren’t that many big beards out there, weirdly. I’m hoping my beard is filling a niche, and I’m coming along for the ride,” he says.
5. BAIJE’S FLASK IS FILLED. “Yeah, I think it’s some kind of awful, homemade poitín [a traditional distilled Irish beverage] or moonshine. Something that essentially could make you blind,” he says. As for what Frost really put in it to drink while filming, all he will say is that it “wasn’t exciting.” So he didn’t go method on that detail? “I rarely do, to be honest, unless it’s a sex scene or eating.”
6. BAIJE HAS A SECRET. Every bit of info we’ve gleaned so far describes Baije as hiding something or as more than meets the eye, or as a questionable ally. Don’t expect Frost to elaborate. “I can’t say because I don’t want to give too much away. It was exciting for me as an actor because I didn’t know where my character was going. You don’t know if you’re going to survive until the end of the season,” he says. “It was incredibly exciting as an actor to read that I have a secret, so I will let the fans find out as I did. Something comes out in [Episode] 5 or 6 that clears a lot of that stuff up.”
Season 2 of Into the Badlands premieres March 19 at 10 p.m. on AMC.
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