The Daily Trolloc (102)

Weekly Issue 102. 
Wheel of Time TV News
A bit of news this week, the casting for the Two Rivers Crew™(Narg want his royalties!) was announced by the WoTonPrime Twitter account. In case you were on holiday without internet access, here they be:

Rand al'Thor - Josha Stradowski

Josha started his acting career in 2006 and played in the musicals 'Kuifje: De Zonnetempel', 'Ciske de Rat' and 'The Sound of Music'. He followed acting courses at Lucia Marthas and Codarts. He played the role of 'Freddie' in 'Naranjina en de Kadekapers', 'Pascal' in the television series 'Spangas' and appeared in 'Dokter Tinus' and 'Verborgen Verhalen'. Josha has graduated in 2018 at the Theatre School in Amsterdam. He played in 'Gender' and 'Bromance' by Toneelgroep Oostpool and director Timothy de Gilde in and in 'Oedipus' by Toneelgroep Amsterdam and director Robert Icke. He also stars in a few shorts and the television film 'Just Friends' which won many international awards and in 2018 he was selected as a shooting star for the Subtitle Film Festival.
Stats from his resume:
YEAR OF BIRTH - 1995(24)
HEIGHT - 189 cm(6'2")
HAIR - Blonde
LANGUAGES - Dutch English German


Egwene al'Vere - Madeleine Madden

"I feel like every child puts on little shows, but that imaginative little kid has always been with me, so I guess acting was a way to keep that child-like imagination or spirit. Becoming a character and falling, diving headfirst into a role or a story – that’s what I loved about it."

Madden starred in Australia's first indigenous teen drama, Ready for This, and in the critically applauded Redfern Now. She has also starred in The Moodys, Jack Irish, My Place and The Code. In 2016 she starred in the miniseries Tomorrow, When the War Began which is based on the John Marsden series of young adult books. In 2018 she played Marion Quade in the miniseries Picnic at Hanging Rock, Crystal Swan in the TV miniseries Mystery Road and Immy DuPain in the series Pine Gap. 
Madden has starred in short films by Deborah Mailman, and Meryl Tankard and co-starred with Christina Ricci and Jack Thompson in Around the Block. Her first film acting job was at eight years old. She aims to become a director in the future. Madden made her big Hollywood debut as Sammy in the 2019 film Dora and the Lost City of Gold.
Full Resume Here

YEAR OF BIRTH - 1997(22)
HEIGHT - 168 cm(5'6")
HAIR - Black

Matrim Cauthon - Barney Harris

“That was when it became a bit of a kick, that sort of moment where you get the addiction to the high on stage and that feeling of being in it,”
Bio/Resume from Dreshare:
The young actor began his career in 2015. He made his silver screen debut with a movie called “All Roads Lead to Rome“. It was a romantic comedy movie which was directed by Ella Lemhagen. Harris played one of the recurring roles of Tyler alongside artists like Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosie Day, Raoul Bova, etc. Later, the aspiring actor appeared in the short drama movie “Sweet Maddie Stone” in 2016. The same year, Barney portrayed one of the major characters in the action/thriller film “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” as Skyes.
Agency Resume
Clips from Billy Lynn
Starboy Trailer

YEAR OF BIRTH - 1997(22)
HEIGHT - 183 cm(6'0") or 178 cm(5'11')
EYE COLOR - Hazel?
HAIR - Brown

Nynaeve al'Meara - Zoë Robins

Zoë Robins is a New Zealand actress, known for Power Rangers Ninja Steel (2017), The Shannara Chronicles(2016), The New Tomorrow (2005) and The Killian Curse (2006). 
Full Resume
More Clips

YEAR OF BIRTH - 1993(26)
HEIGHT - 172 cm(5'6")
HAIR - Black

Perrin Aybara - Marcus Rutherford

"I’m always kind of drawn to characters or stories or people who seem a little bit like they don’t really fit in that much"

British Independent Film Award Most Promising Newcomer nominee, Marcus Rutherford made his screen debut as the lead in Jamie Jones’ feature film OBEY. The story follows a young man’s struggle in bettering himself against the backdrop of the 2011 London Riots, meshing real and staged footage of the events. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival winning Best Cinematography and has since received high praise from critics. Peter Bradshaw writing for The Guardian said “there is a strong central performance from Marcus Rutherford as Leon, a young man just out of care”.
For his performance in OBEY Marcus was also named “One to Watch in 2019” by the Observer and received three UK National Film Awards nominations: Best Actor, Best Breakthrough Performance and Best Newcomer. He was then nominated for the 2019 Screen Nation Film and Television in the Emerging Talent category. Marcus followed his success on OBEY by filming COUNTY LINES. This drama also starred Harris Dickinson and was directed by Henry Blake. Most recently, Marcus shot a recurring role on BULLETPROOF S2 opposite Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters.

YEAR OF BIRTH - 1995(24)
HEIGHT - 6'2", 6'5", 5'8"...Narg has seen all mentioned...
HAIR - Black

There you have it. Do they they have the acting chops to pull off their roles? Watch the clips, showreels and decide for yourself.

Narg is now going to offer his opinions on the reactions fans have had to the casting. Narg hates to be preached to, so it's not Narg's intent to tell people how they should act or react, Narg is just going to pose a question or two and share his own personal views on the matter. Narg is also going to try out a new word he learnt..."I". We'll see how it goes...

Let me start by saying that I don't believe that throwing around words such as Racist, Bigot, SJW or Woke leads to constructive dialogue or even gets to the real issues at play. Personally I think this is more of an issue of Tolerance/Intolerance, the ability to accept change and separating the book canon from the TV canon.(Yes, i'm aware that a very very small amount of people have actually made racial slurs towards the actors, but they are few and far between, and don't represent IMO the vast majority of the disappointment being displayed by people unhappy with the casting.)

So does this latest round of casting reflect book canon? Yes and no... There is no definitive answer here. We can trade passages from the books back and forth, find official art that proves our point, cherry pick photos of the actors with different lighting/filters, point to or poke holes in RJ's personal picks, trade insults back and forward, but at the end of the day, no one can claim victory.

The only personal who can definitively settle the debate is dead. The TV show casting does in no way validate or invalidate any ones personal canon or what they believe to be official canon. Brandon Sanderson's words on the subject don't either: Highlighting the pertinent points...
"I don't really get to make the canon for WoT any longer, and I try very hard not to speak for the series or for Harriet.
That said, I'm 100% behind this casting--and I think Mr. Jordan would be as well. He specifically built Wheel of Time in a way where our current understandings of culture, race, and ethnicity no longer held. Beyond that, he worked very hard to try to make people's biases in the world break along gender lines or nationality lines--because those are the themes in the series he wanted to explore.
One could certainly make the argument that a text trying to be colorblind has unfortunate side-effects, but I think it's very valid to experiment with fiction like this. That was what Mr. Jordan was trying very hard to do.
Rafe is doing an excellent job here matching the souls of the characters to actors--and I think in the Wheel of Time, that should come far, far ahead of racial considerations. As long as Rand has red hair and "looks Aiel" little else about ethnicity really matters in the text.
I haven't met these actors, and I don't know how they will act, but the look of them is very encouraging. They feel like the characters I read about from a quick glance. I suspect most of us could have named the character from the headshots for each of them. That's some great casting."
He's not speaking to the book canon, he points out that the text is ambiguous and that he believes that matching the souls of actors to the characters is more important than race. In essence, its a very diplomatic response that only expresses his own views on the casting, and does not validate or invalidate anyone else's view of the books.

As to speaking for RJ...just from meeting him once and from watching/listening/reading all his interviews and blog posts, I believe that he'd most likely not look to fondly on anyone speaking on his behalf without his permission, and would likely rap anyone who did on the head with one of his trusty canes(yes I probably just got rapped on the head). The only one with that right is Harriet. So for everyone who says, that this casting is a betrayal of what he wrote or something to that effect... I'd advise you not to invoke his name as an excuse to disparage the casting or to use it as a reason not to watch the show. No one can know for sure what his view on casting would be, so lets not presume eh?

Now as to my personal view. The casting does not line up with my interpretation of the canon. So yes, I was disappointed when the casting was announced(this includes Pike). But for those that have followed Narg over the last few years, you'd know that the actors Narg has chosen for his casting have not always lined up directly with the generally accepted book canon. For reference the following was the "Dream Cast" I settled on...

Since the first post from Harriet, that the legal issues had been sorted and that a major studio was onboard, I've made an effort to partition in my mind, my book canon interpretation and what we could get from the TV show. Book canon and TV canon were always going to be different. Rafe was always going to have to take creative liberties with what RJ wrote, just like Sanderson did in finishing the series(if you don't think he made changes from RJ's notes and had to make stuff some research). If Rafe sees each of the Westlands nations as being more diverse and not as homogeneous as what a lot of us thought, so be it. As long as he is consistent in this interpretation, it bothers me not. His casting notes, seems to indicate he will be...

I'm sure most of us hope Rafe won't stray to far, but if he does, we can just go read the books and forget about the show. No one can take your interpretation of the books from you. The changes Rafe makes, will in no way diminish or change what RJ wrote.

While i'm not overly enthused by the casting so far(based mainly on appearance), they are slowly growing on me, and as new fan art and official photos of them in costume come out, they will no doubt grow on me even more. Ultimately though, it will be their performances and not how they look that will decide whether or not I accept them as the characters I love. To not give them that chance would be silly.

Finally I'll leave you with the following exchange(from 2 years ago) and ask a question...

 Artist Nadia Attlee draws two rivers folk as white-ish:


Artist responds:

"Hi Anon! I wasn’t aware of this discourse regarding the Two Rivers folks but I think it’s a worthy topic of conversation and wanted to give a thoughtful response. Also apologies in advance if I get something wrong as it’s been some time since I read all the books.

Firstly I think it’s important to look at the ways in which we interpret default representation when there’s a lack of explicit information. It’s all too easy to read default as white, and that deserves some self reflection. I’ll admit that for me on first reading I saw the Two Rivers folks as basically ‘farmers tan’ white. My first introduction to the books was also staring at the covers in my highschool library where they are depicted as fairly white in the art (but as we know cover art can be plain wrong or misleading).

The books themselves are not explicit, and I welcome anyone who wants to challenge and explore the notions of what default should look like. My early reading of them as mostly white is definitely not a cut and dry interpretation. I can see how someone else could come to a conclusion that the Two Rivers folks are darker skinned. Although ‘dark skin’ can mean many things, Jordan has more explicitly described characters and regions that have darker skin (Some of the Seanchan, the Domani, Tear, etc. Juilin is described as being “carved from aged wood”, Leane “brownish stone”).

For that reason I also don’t think it’s necessarily incorrect to have a fairly white reading of the Two Rivers folks. In the descriptions we are given in TEotW, Tam is described as having “sun roughened cheeks, a sprinkling of black amongst the grey hair” Rand having “little of his father in him physically, except a breadth of shoulder. Grey eyes and the reddish tinge to his hair came from his mother, so Tam had said.” (Of course we know Rand is Aiel and Andoran in heritage, so he is the odd one out in the group). Mat is “wiry with brown eyes”, Perrin “stocky and curly-haired”, Nynaeve is “slender with a dark braid”, and Egwene has “the same dark colouring” with “big brown eyes”. I’ve definitely seen interpretations of ‘dark colouring’ to mean darker skin, but since Nynaeve’s skin is never described I personally thought it was a reference to her hair and eyes. The point is none of these descriptions are terribly explicit and could be left up to the reader to project on to.

Now, there is a scene in The Eye of the World where Elaida comments on Rand’s skin: ’“Two Rivers people are dark of hair and eye, and they seldom have such height.” Her hand darted out to push back his coat sleeve, exposing lighter skin the sun had not reached so often. “Or such skin.”’ One can read this as “Rand is paler than dark Two Rivers folk” but I think you can also read it as “Rand’s natural skin tone is lighter than the Two Rivers”. Again, neither is hugely explicit but can be interpreted in different ways. Conversely there is also a scene in the Fires of Heaven describing Egwene, after spending some time in the Waste: “Egwene, whom he had grown up with. Now, except for her big dark eyes, she could almost have passed for an Aiel, and not only for her tanned face and hands [but also because of her Aiel garb]” To me this might suggest that she used to be lighter than the Aiel, who are tanned skinned but have light hair and eyes.

So what I’m really trying to get at with all this text is; I think there’s a lot of valid criticisms of rendering ‘default’ as 'white’, and it’s something we should seek to challenge in our media consumption and creation. But I also think the Wheel of Time text supports more than one interpretation. I wouldn’t challenge anyone who decided to read the Two Rivers folks as being darker skinned, but I also think you can read them as fairly white too. For me the way I consume and analyse my media has changed a lot since I first started reading these books like fifteen years ago, so these kinds of discussions are very useful and interesting. I haven’t really had the chance to draw colour interpretations of the (non-Rand) Two Rivers folks except Egwene, so I welcome the opportunity to challenge my old assumptions. But I hope you can also respect that my interpretations may not match yours."

Anon responds:

Who do you want to be like? Nadia, who when challenged, takes the time to reflect on her interpretation and looks at it from both sides, and while not changing her mind, can respect and understand that others have a different interpretation, or like Anonymous, who can't tolerate any deviation from there view and goes straight to insinuation and or insults?

That's it! Hopefully that wasn't to incoherent. Narg is no wordsmith and putting his thoughts to paper can sometimes be a struggle. Oh, and upon reflection, Narg likes to hear his own name a lot. Narg thinks he'll stick with Narg and not "I".😉

As always, you can see all available information about the show by CLICKING HERE.

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