The post-apocalyptic martial arts phenomenon Into the Badlands returns for season 2 on March 19 at 10pm ET on AMC, and fans can look forward to a few changes for the show this year. One of the most welcome additions to the cast is Nick Frost, who will play an unlikely companion for Daniel Wu’s character, Sunny, as he tries to get back to Veil and his child. A British actor known for his turns opposite Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead and other movies, Frost spoke about his character, Bajie.
“Bajie’s completely new,” says Frost. “He’s not affiliated with anyone; he has no ties — or so we think.” Those who have seen the trailer for season 2 may have deduced that Bajie is introduced as a fellow prisoner alongside Sunny, whom we last saw in the clutches of the River King, having become persona non grata in Baron Quinn’s domain.
“Sunny wakes up as a prisoner, and he is chained to this man,” Frost describes. “And we stay chained together for, I think, two or three episodes, which is fantastic for me as an actor to be chained to Daniel Wu because it was a real treat.” Whether or not Bajie’s companionship is immediately welcomed by Sunny may be another matter.
Not that Frost’s character is a slouch in the fighting department. Publicity shots feature Bajie wielding death-dealing… hammers? “I use hammers in that publicity shot, first of all, because my character works in a kind of prison mine,” explains Frost. “And secondly because my soccer team I support is a team called West Ham United, and our nickname is the Hammers.” It’s good to know Frost is true to his UK roots even though this is his first time on American television.
Will Into the Badlands season 2 give viewers more detail about Azra and the wider world beyond the Badlands? Frost isn’t saying. “We’re all kind of kept in the dark,” he insists. “We have three scripts to start and then as you’re shooting, you get number four and five… It’s a great feeling getting that script and thinking, ‘First of all, have I been killed? No? Brilliant!’”
Fans of Frost from his roles opposite Simon Pegg in the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End) may be expecting a bit of humor from the comedic actor in his role as Bajie, and they won’t be disappointed. But Frost looks at it more broadly. “You’re not just a funny person at the expense of being a human being with human emotions,” he says. “And in terms of drama, even at the lowest points of it, you can still be funny, and it works. In fact I think it works better.”
Part of the levity of the character may also help round out Wu’s character as well, according to Frost. “I think what people are going to enjoy is seeing Daniel Wu become more of a person. I think everyone’s used to him in season 1 as an assassin… and now with Bajie and through Bajie’s help, you see him become more of a person; he laughs and jokes a bit… and I think people will really enjoy that element of Sunny.”
Frost will certainly add a nice twist to the narrative, which may take this show beyond its martial arts fanbase, which Frost says is important to the genre-bending nature of Into the Badlands. “I think it’s kind of unique at the moment in American TV. The martial arts is martial arts: Jackie Chan style, high kicking, all action, blood fountain martial arts, which I think is fantastic.”
Into the Badlands season 2 returns on Sunday, March 19 at 10pm ET on AMC. You can catch up on season 1 on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and X-Box. For the full audio of this interview, subscribe to our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast on iTunes | Stitcher | Soundcloud or simply listen below!