AMC has quickly become the cable channel to watch with the amazing shows it has brought to viewers. One of these series is “Into the Badlands,” which broke out onto the scene with its first season in 2016.
“Badlands” takes us to a strange world of a feudal system, where seven barons are fighting for position and power. Baron Quinn is one such individual, and since there are no guns, the Baron uses his army of lethal fighters led by Sunny — and he rules with an iron fist.
During a battle, Quinn discovers a boy named M.K. who seems to have powers that intrigue Quinn. He directs Sunny to train the boy, but that doesn’t stop the word from getting out about M.K., and another baron wants the boy as well.
Aramis Knight plays the young Colt M.K., and from the moment he is seen on screen, it was clear to me that he was perfect in this role. Knight has spent years of his young life acting in television in series such as “Girl Meets World,” “Parenthood,” “Single with Parents,” “Dexter” and even “Boston Legal.” His film career includes “Rendition” and “Ender’s Game in the role of Bean. He can be seen in the next “Guardians of the Galaxy” film.
I had the opportunity to speak with Knight about his role as M.K. in the AMC series “Into the Badlands.”
Jeri Jacquin: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today Aramis.
Aramis Knight: Of course, Jeri, my pleasure.
JJ: Let’s dive right into it then. Tell me how you came to get the role of the mysterious M.K. for AMC’s “Into the Badlands?”
AK: It was actually a very interesting audition process for M.K. I say there are a few projects that I read, that I also completely see myself in that role. That was very much what I saw with “Into the Badlands.” I read the scripts and really got a feel for the story and, totally saw me in the character and that’s something I strive for.
Let me say that I’m really proud to be a part of it. The audition process was that I was the first guy to go in for the role of M.K. It was all in the very early stages and I would say it was September of 2013. They liked me, and I really liked them, but nothing was set between us for four or five months. I even told my rep that I wanted to really go for “Into the Badlands,” and they auditioned 500 boys before calling me back in. They asked me to test and I got it! I mean it felt right the whole time.
JJ: I have to say now, knowing there were that many people auditioning for the role, that I cannot imagine them not choosing you! You are so perfect for this role.
AK: I was really the first person who went in, and I guess they had to turn every stone to see that it was a good fit. I think it is such an interesting process. Plus, there is the fact that such a big studio like AMC behind you means you have to really find the right people. I think they wanted to be thorough in their search. I sort of get bragging rights a little, not that I’m a bragger (laughing). I mean, you know how it goes.
JJ: It’s O.K., young man, to take a bow once in a while just so you know.
AK: Oh good.
\(Did I mention this young man has a great sense of humor? Well he does!)
JJ: I was going to ask about reading the script for the first time. I can’t even imagine what you thought, because this series has such a different feel. What did you think?
AK: I just think it is amazing how many themes are in this series. There is a lot of Western, Asian and Southern influences all in one. You are going to see a lot more of influences in season two.
They are loosely throwing around the steam punk vibe, which I think is pretty awesome. It is such a mixture of so many different genres, and that makes it a completely different show all together.
Then you throw in the martial arts, which hasn’t been done since the 1980s in television. To do it at the level we are doing it is pretty incredible. Throughout it all, with the fight scenes, which are arguably harder if not actually harder than the drama, I would say it is really something that is new. I would also say, that it’s something that has to be experienced. I definitely understand why this hasn’t been done before, because it can be a difficult process to incorporate all of what is in the show.
JJ: Speaking of all the martial arts, I happen to be a fan of the genre and more recently because of the expanse in storytelling and filmmaking, knowing that, working with Daniel Wu that has to be fantastic to watch him.
AK: Definitely! It is a completely new beast, and the way these martial arts scenes are filmed is completely different than the filming of the martial arts scenes. The show has brought on martial arts legends to make these characters come to life. Each of them brings so much to the table, teaching the moves to make the scenes such perfection. Really, we have such a cohesive team, and it is how it has to be to pull this off.
JJ: How is the physical part of your role for you?
AK: M.K. is a very physical role, not only in the fighting but also in the drama. There is such high intensity throughout the role, especially in season two. Season one was definitely physically taxing with learning all the moves and the grit and grim of the show, along with the sweat and the blood. The muggy weather of New Orleans is also an addition to all of that, and something we all had to get through. I would say that it all really helped us get to that same grit and grim of the show.
JJ: Having lived in Alabama, I get that muggy weather.
AK: It wasn’t so bad, but the fight scenes kicking five guys at one time really made for some challenges.
JJ: Yes, if you are not used to it, it can be difficult with all the physicality that “Into the Badlands” has in it.
AK: I would say I liked it though. I’d rather be hot than cold.
JJ: You’re role takes on so many twists, turns and changes, as a young actor how is that for you to have to change it up so much? How did you prepare?
AK: I think it’s how many times you read the script. I love reading the script multiple times, going into an episode, because you really need to have an understanding of the plot, of the arc of the story, because we film two episodes at a time, and in the beginning we filmed three at a time. You really need to know where you are in the script and have a very clear understanding of the timeline of those episodes. I would say script analysis is really everything.
JJ: Your character — you are the one character that you never know. You and Sunny are on the same path but at different ends if that makes sense.
AK: That is so true. I think that’s why Sunny and M.K. get close in that sense. They share that bond of the greater goal, which is to get back home.
JJ: You are also working with this amazing huge cast. I think I’d be a little star struck. The setting is all these different barons, groups and inner circles, and they are all out for one thing — that’s M.K.!
AK: It’s really amazing, and I’m thrilled to be working with so many great people. I went into this process wanting to develop this specific character, and I think all of us wanted that. I have mad respect for everyone else on the show, and was so glad that they had respect for me.
JJ: Working with Ally Ioannides as Tilda, she is the closest to you age wise in the whole cast.
AK: Ally and I are great friends on and off the series. We have a great relationship off the set, and that comes together on the set. We have learned a lot from each other, and I think we have a special bond not only from the character point of view, but from a personal point of view.
JJ: I would imagine you two would stick together through all of this.
AK: For sure! We have all come together as a cast.
JJ: I know you can’t tell us allot about the next season, but what can you share about where M.K. is going?
AK: I think that emotionally he has matured a lot, and he is learning to how to survive this world he lives in. The first season, he didn’t have much control, and in season two he learns how to have that control. In season one, he hasn’t learned how to control his powers, his destiny — nothing about his life. It is really something he strives for. You obviously have the M.K. angst that is kind of funny and so lovable, so I’m excited for everyone to see M.K. grow.
JJ: I know I’m excited to see where your character goes. In season one, you are leading where everyone wants you to go, so I see a breaking out coming.
AK: Yes, a new character is introduced named Eva, who M.K. develops a special relationship with and they have a great story line. I think everybody will really enjoy that.
JJ: I tried last night to explain to someone who hadn’t seen the show what it is about. If you were in the same situation, how would you describe “Into the Badlands?”
AK: I would call it a post-apocalyptic, utopian, martial arts drama. I would also say that it has some of the most vivid coloring and best cinematography in television. You wouldn’t expect anything less from AMC, knowing “The Walking Dead” and “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men,” that also have this rich cinematography and deep story telling. If you are looking for quality, badass television, then this is the show to be watching.
JJ: Well then we agree on the badass, because I have used that word quite a few times.
AK: It’s the truth!
JJ: Congratulations, young man, on an amazing job playing the part of M.K. Your character is so interesting, and as I said, I cannot wait to see what season two has in store for us all. Thanks for spending time with us today.
AK: Thank you so much. I’m excited for everyone to see season two!
The first season of “Into the Badlands” is coming to Blu-ray and Digital HD, and prepare for the second season with Aramis Knight as M.K. to bring even more intrigue, mystery and survival!
In the end — in a world without guns, fighting is everything!