AMC's latest project seems ambitious at first glance. It is a post-apocalyptic story based on a 16th century Chinese novel with costumes and an aesthetic that evokes feudal Japan. There aren't many huge stars in the cast of Into the Badlands , but they are all clearly equipped to handle this fascinating story world.
Into the Badlands may be loosely based on Journey To The West, but it is largely an original tale that draws from several established tropes about the search for enlightenment and the hero's journey. It's also the first major martial arts series on television since the 1970s, according to Deadline. The AMC series is about a new society that emerges after the end of the world, in which guns are not allowed and seven Barons fight for control of a piece of the Badlands. When two of the characters go off on a journey to learn about their respective pasts, our story begins.
So, who is in this show? There may be a few familiar faces beyond the "period" clothes and makeup. The cast includes some martial arts and fantasy favorites, up and coming talent, and overall a diverse group of people who came together to tell this story.
Daniel Wu as Sunny
Sunny is the protagonist, and a Regent to Quinn, the most powerful Baron. He also has a mysterious origin and parentage — all the makings of a true hero. The actor will appear in the upcoming Warcraft adaptation, and has been previously seen in movies like The Europa Report and The Man With The Iron Fists.
Orla Brady as Lydia
Brady plays the first wife to Quinn and an a new twist on "power behind the throne," so to speak. She is not willing to give up her position as Baroness. American audiences may recognize the Irish actress from Fringe, where she played Elizabeth Bishop, or as Cathy from the 1998 television adaptation of Wuthering Heights.
Sarah Bolger as Jade
Jade is the future wife of Quinn with a lot of ambitions and political dreams. The In America actress recently appeared in the sitcom Mixology, and played Mary Tudor in The Tudors on Showtime. She also plays Princess Aurora on Once Upon A Time.
Aramis Knight as M.K.
M.K. becomes Sunny's Colt, like a squire or a Jedi apprentice. He is also something of a sleeper agent when it comes to the martial arts. The young actor is probably best known for playing Bean in Ender's Game, and for a guest arc on Dexter. He was also in an episode of Lost and appeared in the Jake Gyllenhaal movie Rendition.
Emily Beecham as Minerva, aka "The Widow"
She's the new Baron in town with a group of female warriors called the Butterflies in tow. She aims to take down Quinn. The English actress is known for 28 Weeks Later and several television and mini-series.
Oliver Stark as Ryder
Ryder is Quinn and Lydia's son. He was kidnapped as a child, but his father refused to pay the ransom, so he has more than a few issues to work through. Stark appeared in an episode of Luther, but is a mostly-unknown actor in his first major role.
Madeleine Mantok as Veil
Veil is a doctor and love interest to Sunny who dreams of escaping the Badlands. The actress, Mantok, played Astrid in The Tomorrow People and had a small role in Edge of Tomorrow. She also starred in the BBC series Casualty.
Ally Ioannides as Matilda, aka "Tilda"
One of the Butterflies, Tilda is a confident teenage assassin. Besides playing Dylan Jones on Parenthood, she is another newcomer.
Marton Csokas as Quinn
Finally, the leader of this group. He loves control more than he loves his army, the Clippers, and is ruthless in his pursuit to maintain the tradition. The actor is no stranger to this type of genre. He played the elf Celeborn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Borias in Xena: Warrior Princess back in the day. He was also in the Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. His experience rounds out the diverse cast of Into The Badlands, which makes for an exciting ensemble.
Images: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle, James Minchin III (2), Patti Perret (5), James Dimmock (2)/AMC