Daniel Henney Addresses The Wheel of Time’s ‘Internal Issues’

The Wheel of Time had a tumultuous production in its first season, but actor Daniel Henney’s character is about to enter his own period of unrest.

Daniel Henney as Lan in The Wheel of Time
Photo: Jan Thijs / Prime Video

Note: This interview took place before the SAG-AFTRA strike began on July 14.

Like most shows filmed during the pandemic, The Wheel of Time endured plenty of difficulties, including the recast of a main character, production delays, limited locations for shooting, and more. But internal conflict is an integral part of any good story, and actor Daniel Henney, who plays Lan on the show, spoke to Den of Geek about how his own character’s internal struggles and those of the show may end up making the second season that much stronger.

“The first season we had some internal issues, but season 2 is a more complete season,” Henney says, addressing the difficulties experienced by production, but perhaps also reassuring fans of the Robert Jordan novels who were dissatisfied with the accuracy of the adaption The Wheel of Time thus far. “We love the episodes; we think they’re strong. We think the pacing and the tone is better. You can see we had more time.”

In an interesting juxtaposition of circumstances, Henney’s character is experiencing internal issues of his own when The Wheel of Time season 2 begins. After the events of the finale, Lan’s Warder bond with Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) has been severed, and this will severely impact their relationship in the first few episodes. “He lashes out emotionally a little bit: because he’s lost, and I think he feels kind of like he’s pinned against a wall,” says Henney. “So even Lan, the most stoic of men, is kind of out of answers at this point.”

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Although the relationship between an Aes Sedai and her Warder is not necessarily romantic, Henney likens it to a type of marriage. “They’re like a married couple; they’ve been on this journey for many, many years, searching for the Dragon Reborn,” he explains. “When you watch the show you think a lot of their life must be cool fights and amazing scenes, but I always think about the mundane stuff that must happen on the road: packing saddle bags, arguments over the last bit of rabbit or whatever they’re eating out there.”

Henney finds it helpful in that sense to compare the magical bond to relationships he’s had. “Because [The Wheel of Time] is such a heightened world, I always try and relate it to my own life, so I just treat it like a marriage without the other stuff — some of the fun stuff,” he says. “So in season 2 when they have these moments of frustration and separation and confusion, I just treat it as if it was how I would react in my real life when someone that you love very much is really altered and you’re trying to understand it.”

Although Henney’s personal experiences inform how he plays the character, Lan has a lot to teach the actor as well. “I’m trying very much to be more like Lan,” says Henney. “Sometimes characters teach you things, and there’s a lot to learn from Lan. I mean it’s a pretty high pedestal to try to get yourself to because he’s pretty perfect in my mind — he’s flawed but perfect! I will speak before I think sometimes; I will feel uncomfortable in silence at times. We’re human, right? But Lan doesn’t care about that.”

In a way, Henney’s own internal struggles extend beyond lessons he learned from Lan, including having to spend time away from family for The Wheel of Time’s demanding schedule filming in Prague. “It’s a lot of time away from family; it’s a lot of travel, but it’s all worth it, especially when it comes around like this and the show’s about to come out and the excitement builds,” says Henney. “I’m just really honored and happy that I got a chance to take part in a show like this. Every day is great for me! The sets, the cast, the costumes, the swords, the horses… I never thought that I’d have the chance to do a show like this.”

Fans of The Wheel of Time will get a front row seat to Lan’s new circumstances when Prime Video releases the first three episodes of season 2 on September 1, 2023.