As Freddy Carter flashes a cheerful grin from the small box on our Zoom call, it’s hard to discern the genteel face from the menacing Kaz Brekker—in Netflix’s fantasy-action series Shadow and Bone. Based off Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grishaverse novels, the series, which had its first season run on Netflix in 2021, became the streaming platform’s first to spend its first 12 days since its release acing the Top 10 charts.
It wasn’t too much of a surprise that season two was shortly announced—with the main cast of Jessie Mei Li, Ben Barnes, Archie Renaux, alongside the trio of Crows: Carter, Amita Suman and Kit Young, set to reprise their roles in the second installment on Netflix. With the first season shot before the pandemic hit, filming of season two picked off post-pandemic in Hungary, Budapest. “We had to pick up our things and move out there for six months, which is great. We had so much fun during the first season that it was just really nice to get back into it. Especially since we all get on,” says Carter.
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Since bringing the brooding, convoluted character Kaz to life on the screen, the English actor is well cognisant of the expectations from book fans—of both Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. He quips: “We are all huge fans of the book as well and we all wanted it to be a good adaptation—to still have the heart and soul of the books. And I feel like having Leigh involved in the series—to be so hands on and knowing she had been involved in the casting process, took a huge weight off our shoulders because these characters were so important to her.”
And given the thunderous affection for the pilot season, it’s safe to say Brekker has successfully nailed the anti-hero to a tee, depicting the conman’s callous nature juxtaposed with tender inflections from his scenes with Inej (played by Amita Suma)—leaving viewers and fans eagerly anticipating the extension of Kaz’s story. Below, he dives more into the future of Kaz and what season two has in store for the characters in the Grishaverse.
Kaz, when broken down, is such an interesting, intriguing character. He’s complex, dark and conflicting all at once. How did you approach playing this role?
I think that word that you said ‘conflict’ was sort of what struck me as well. He does a lot of things that are quite morally questionable and while playing him, you have to justify all of those things and know why he’s doing all of that stuff—and sort of enjoy that conflict and the contradictions. So he’s a guy who will happily, you know, brutally beat someone up with his game, but on the other hand, can be very tender with Inej. And that was really interesting and exciting. I always think, when looking at a character, I look for the two extremes in either direction, and then try to meet in the middle and see what the connection is.
Do you suppose there are any similarities between yourself and Kaz?
I like to think that there aren’t [laughs], because he’s so ruthless and violent at times. So certainly not in that aspect. But I think he values loyalty and finds that very important. I think I do as well. So that’s probably one of the good things that he has.
What’s in store for Shadow and Bone season two?
If people enjoyed season one, what season two does is completely expand the scope of the world that we’re in—in the Grishaverse. So we go to lots of different places that are mentioned in the first season. And we sort of really dive into those different parts of the world, the different races and the different sort of tensions. It kind of really colours in the rest of the map. So we’ve been to Ketterdam and Ravka. But now we go to Shu Han and Fjerda and all of these different places. So I think if you liked [season one], you’re getting more.
I think everybody wants to know, what can fans expect to see from Kaz in the second season?
Without spoiling too much, I think people are gonna get a real sense of why Kaz acts the way that he does. We get a glimpse into his backstory and into his past. I think in the first season, you’ll be left with a lot of questions as to why he’s so abrupt and why he’s so emotionally unavailable. And hopefully a few of those questions will be answered. There will also be more action scenes for Kaz this season, since a lot of the Crows’ action was left up to Jasper and Inej in the first season. So that was really fun to figure out and work with the amazing stunt team on.
Speaking of the Crows, whether it be you and Amita or with the whole trio, you guys have a palpable chemistry onscreen. How did you guys work together on your scenes?
I don’t know if there’s anything that we’ve ever sort of sat down and tried to manufacture. I think it’s part of the casting process. We do just naturally work very well and we managed to find a rhythm and dynamic of those three characters quite quickly. And it doesn’t sit all that far away from how we are as people—Kit’s always cracking jokes, Amita’s very soulful and I’m normally making plans as the admin [laughs], so it doesn’t sit too far from where we are naturally.
Shadow and Bone Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.
Photography Joseph Sinclair
Styling Sarah Harrison
Grooming Charlotte Yeomans
Photography assistant Connor Harris
Styling assistant Olivia Wood