Actor Xelia Mendes-Jones Talks Backstory for Wheel of Time’s Renna

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The actor Xelia Mendes-Jones has had two breakout roles recently on two Prime Video shows: Renna on Wheel of Time and Dane on Fallout.

In a recent interview, Collider talked to him about his approach to acting generally, as well as his preparation for both parts. The whole forty-three-minute video is worth a watch, but there’s some especially interesting tidbits in it for those interested in the Wheel of Time series.

“I thought the toughest part would be, ironically, convincingly making her hateful. Then, what ended up being the toughest part was seeing everyone hate her,” he said about Renna. “I got so drawn into, when you play someone that horrible, for me, I had to humanize her. I had to justify, like really justify everything she does to myself. Otherwise, I don’t think I could play her as someone who knew that she was doing bad.”

Mendes-Jones went on to say that he developed a backstory for Renna. “I found it very difficult to find exactly what it was that met the really visceral violence and cruelty that she regularly shows over the course of her four episodes while meeting it with the fact that she seems incredibly kind and generous at the start with Egwene,” he said. “I know there’s kind of sexual overtones in the style of the writing in the books from Robert Jordan, and that flowed through the scripts because Rafe’s a huge fan of the books. It was never going to not be there.”

Credit: Jan Thijs/Prime Video

He added, “I didn’t want to give that the emphasis because I felt that was already going to be there in the writing. It’s cooked in, I don’t need to push those buttons. So, for me, the key trait that I gave her was that she is incredibly egotistical, like an egomaniac, and Egwene is a rung on a ladder towards Renna being the star. So, she sees Egwene’s strengths and her power as a jewel in a crown for herself. I kind of gave her this kind of egotism because the niceness comes from disagreeing with the methods of the empire, but not with the ultimate goal and the structures and systems. So, she believes in the system of the Sul’dam-damane dynamic, but she believes she can do it better than they do it. So she wants to use Egwene’s resistance and power of fire to make her an even stronger damane than the ones who are broken.”

The first season of Fallout and the first two seasons of Wheel of Time are now streaming on Prime Video. No news yet on when season two of Fallout will premiere (though there’s a good chance Mendes-Jones will be back to reprise his role as Dane), nor when Season Three of Wheel of Time will be available on the streaming platform. icon-paragraph-end

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