Playing with knives, spinning guns, and carrying out dangerous heists – that’s what mastermind Kaz Brekker, assassin Inej Ghafa and gunslinger Jesper Fahey, from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse duology Six of Crows, are known for, and stars Freddy Carter, Amita Suman and Kit Young are bringing these characters to life, even though technically, the baddest and most beloved characters, The Crows, weren’t part of the first book that Netflix’s new fantasy series Shadow and Bone is based on.
In our interview with Carter, Suman and Young, Carter shares that The Crows’ incorporation into the adaptation of Shadow and Bone is prequel material, all whilst hinting at a potential season 2.
“The first season will follow the first book of Shadow and Bone, the first book of the trilogy. What’s really exciting for the fans of the books is that everything in the characters is prequel material before we get to meet them at the beginning of Six of Crows. That was really exciting for me, and for all of us because we got to put little Easter eggs in about who these people are going to be in the books.”
Dubbed the Oceans 11 of Bardugo’s book series, The Crows now find themselves thrown into Alina’s (Jessie Mei Li) journey of honing her newfound power and the complicated love triangle between her, Mal Oretsev (Archie Renaux) and General Kirigan (Ben Barnes).
Like what Carter said, the Netflix series sees little orphan girl Alina Starkov whisked away to the Little Palace to train as a Grisha after a traumatic experience crossing ‘The Fold’. Once a mapmaker to the First Army, Alina now finds herself carrying the burden as Ravka’s one and only hope in reinstalling peace and destroying ‘The Fold’. In the meantime, what will Kaz, Inej and Jesper be up to? On a brand new heist, of course.
“What’s really cool about what we’re doing is no one’s ever seen it or read it! It’s completely brand new. I think that’s really, really exciting because you think you know the story, but we’re kind of giving you something extra,” said Young.
“We are definitely laying the groundwork for who these characters will become later in the story – and they will be recognisable of course. I think these characters are quintessentially who they are right from the first time you meet them on screen but I think there are certain things that we get to do for the first time that are taken as read in the book.”
Despite carrying out a heist not written in the books, the actors took great reference from The Six of Crows in their characterisation of the trio. In fact, Carter and Suman were both fans of their own characters prior to receiving the role.
“I actually bought the book during the audition process, and I started reading it but then I couldn’t finish it because I was getting too excited. I realised that I’d get too invested and attached to the character so I had to put myself on pause,” shared Carter.
It was also the same for Suman.
“I got the breakdown through for the audition and I had to buy the book straight away. I opened the first page thinking that I’ll read for maybe an hour but I couldn’t put it down, I finished all of it. I just couldn’t believe the journey I had gone through and the world that I was experiencing, and just reading the characters for the first time and how unique they were and how engaging they were,” added Suman.
“Bardugo has written one of my all-time favourite books, I think I’ve read the books, maybe six times now and I became number one fan of Inej. I hadn’t even got the part yet so I was just wanting it even more and more.”
Without spoiling what’s to happen in the series, big boss Kaz is seen leading Inej and Jesper through ‘The Fold’ and on a heist in an attempt to rake in some gold for the team. They come across dangerous people and manipulate those around them in order to keep the plan moving forward.
Carter, wouldn’t consider himself a natural leader – though Young and Suman would argue otherwise – but the trio was able to find the dynamic and rhythm on set easily. Whilst working together wasn’t an issue, each actor had their own challenges with their character.
Inej being an assassin, is quick, strong, acrobatic and agile. She’s constantly running through dark alleys, in combat with those who want her dead and enjoys throwing a knife or two. Suman isn’t capable of any of that.
“I knew nothing. I cant do some of the stuff, I didn’t have strength, I didn’t have stamina, I’ve never really been to the gym before ever in my life so I took it upon my self to put in as much training as possible to increase my flexibility, strength and gain a bit of muscle because even though we had the same outer shell, I didn’t have her capabilities at all,” laughed the 23-year old actress.
“I didn’t have specific knife training either but I was given 14 knives and I just kind of played around with them as much as I could in my spare time alongside Kit spinning his guns.”
Hearing his name, the 26-year-old actor perked up and added, “As much as I think the fandom might think that I am him and he is me, I’m not nearly as brave as Jesper. I’m not a good gunslinger. I can flip them around but actually hitting the target miles away, not me.”
“But the books and other kinds of pop culture were just the greatest resources. And obviously, the western influence was the main one and then there’s also something about the lovable rogue who’s cheeky and charming whether that’s a Han Solo, or Billy the Kid or even Woody or Buzz from Toy Story, there’s some joy and playfulness there that can be used in a lot of what is quite often dark and tricky situations.”
Similar to lead stars Jessie Mei Li and Archie Renaux, The Crows themselves weren’t aware of how big the fandom is and was pleasantly surprised at the international attention they got when Netflix announced the adaptation. According to Carter and Suman, the fans have always been on the journey with the cast and are excited for the fans to watch the series when it comes out on Netflix on 23 April.
“The fans have always been on this journey with us. I wasn’t really aware of how big the fandom was until theory announced the cast and there’s that photo of the six of us on these steps in Budapest and immediately all our phones started blowing up!” said Carter.
“I was like ‘Oh my gosh, this is a big deal now.’ I didn’t realise how global the funding was either because I knew it was quite big in The States, I’d heard of it in the UK where we’re all based, but I didn’t realise how global it was. It will be really amazing when [the fans] get to see it.”
Likewise, Suman was enthralled by the attention she received, “My casting hadn’t officially been announced yet and I went on Twitter just looking at the news and suddenly I saw ‘Amita Suman is cast as Inej!’ and I’m like ‘Oh my god, have I done something wrong? Like did I tell somebody? Am I gonna get fired?’ And then I realised the fans are just one of the best detectives ever.”
“The fans are so dedicated. They absolutely love the books, and I completely share that love with them. It’s just really beautiful to have them at the very beginning of our journey -and hopefully, all the way to who knows where it will lead us.”
Shadow and Bone stars Freddy Carter, Amita Suman, Kit Young Jessie Mei Li, Archie Renaux, and Ben Barnes and will release on 23 April 2021 on Netflix.