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Wheel Of Time's Natasha O'Keeffe Teases The Evolution Of Lanfear In Season 3 - Exclusive Interview

Amazon Studios' "The Wheel of Time" series took a strong turn in a positive direction for Season 2. As of this writing, the Rotten Tomato audience score jumped by 22% (from 60% to 82%) between the first two seasons. While many elements factored into this improvement, one factor was doubtless the introduction of more villains to help raise the stakes and drive the story forward at a faster pace.

One of the primary villains of Season 2 is Lanfear: a powerful female channeler, a member of the cursed group called the Forsaken, and a woman who is head-over-heels in love with the Dragon Reborn (that is, Josha Stradowski's Rand character, or at least it kind of is — it's complicated).

While Season 2 finished back in early October, that was during the heady days of the SAG-AFTRA strike. Shortly before that, Looper had a chance to visit the set and talk to some of the show's executive producers and heads of departments, but the lack of actors was tragic. Now, we've rectified that issue by spending early December sitting down with multiple actors from the show — starting with none other than Natasha O'Keeffe, the woman bringing Lanfear to life on our streaming screens. She shared some of her thoughts on the new season and what it was like joining the show as one of its main antagonists as the adaptation of Robert Jordan's gigantic story begins to gain momentum.

Finally getting to talk about Season 2 and finding out about playing Lanfear

Are you excited to finally get a chance to talk about Season 2 for a bit?

Yes. It's been a funny time, hasn't it? Everyone's put a lot of energy and time and guts into making this series, and we weren't able to go around and publicize or even meet some fans or sell the show, so to speak — a show that's worthy of it. It's nice to be able to get to talk a little bit about it now.

It's funny trying to pluck things from Season 2 when you're in the midst of the Season 3 filming, but it's good. It's good to recap, anyway. It's still very fresh. It's only just come up on Amazon, hasn't it? ... Hopefully, the holiday season can have some people bingeing a little bit on "The Wheel of Time" and getting their fix.

It's definitely nice to hear you guys circle back around and share some thoughts. Now, you play the Forsaken Lanfear, also called Selene for a lot of the season. What was it like discovering that you would be playing such a pivotal role in the show?

When I went for the auditions for "The Wheel of Time," I didn't know it was "The Wheel of Time" at all. I didn't know what the project was. There were hints at things, but my character wasn't Lanfear or anything like that. But the scenes that I had to do for the auditions were all pretty gory and very evil — real Lanfear scenarios — and that really intrigued me. You get a synopsis, and it's all a summary of what that character and their breakdown entails, and it was intriguing.

Meeting with [showrunner] Rafe [Judkins] ... I remember clearly meeting Rafe and Justine [Juel Gillmer] and Josha [Stradowski]. In the room, it was still COVID times, so everything was still a little bit with distance and things like that, but I knew I was with the right bunch of people. I felt very safe, and they were so excited, and it makes it so you feel good and excited and able to play. That's what Lanfear is. It's a character you can play with such ... She's quite elaborate.

Getting into the guts of the character and acting opposite Josha Stradowski

Lanfear is simultaneously one of the most beautiful and strongest women in "The Wheel of Time" story. That's how she's described by Robert Jordan. What was it like balancing that concept of overwhelming beauty with incredible power at the same time?

I had to put to one side the idea that I'd ever meet a criteria of the most beautiful woman on the planet, because that's not something that any human being can put upon themselves. I put that to one side because I wouldn't be able to put that pressure onto myself.

It was more about the guts of this character and the way that her ... She comes across like this kind of siren. Selene is meant to be the woman that's bringing Rand in, drawing him in to love her and for them to exchange this kind of relationship with one another. It was all very interesting to play that, and then literally cut to Lanfear, like, "Surprise." And she very much means business, so it's getting to step into these different roles within Lanfear. She's always playing characters within her own self. She's multidimensional as herself, which makes her intriguing to play.

She also gets confused, and I know she knows what she wants, but there's a vulnerability there. It might not come across so much in the series. I don't know if anyone's found her too vulnerable, but ...

I don't know about vulnerable.

Maybe there's some of that to see yet.

She definitely comes across as pretty confident. What was it like acting opposite of Josha? You were with him in so many scenes throughout the season.

He was someone that I was with, like you say, for most of the series of Season 2, bar a few scenes with my Forsaken friends. Josha [is] very thoughtful, and we're able to communicate ideas off one another with the script. There was a really easy flow with him, and it's a complicated relationship, obviously. But off the screen, it wasn't as complex. It was very easy, and he's an intelligent guy who posed good questions that made me think sometimes ... I love that, when people bring things forward that you go, "Oh, yeah," and it makes you go off and have a think. It felt like that kind of exchange. We were able to build things together.

You could tell. The chemistry on the screen was great — you could tell that you guys were working with each other very well.

Oh, that's nice to hear. Thank you.

What to expect in Season 3 — and O'Keeffe's take on what Lanfear wants

Toward the end of the season, the Lanfear side clearly comes out more, and you see a lot of her power with the One Power in particular, but she's still flashing that clever, diplomatic personality. She's in between everybody. What can we expect to see from this newly revealed version of the character heading into Season 3? — What you're allowed to say, obviously.

It was almost an actual release and relief to have Lanfear grow into who she's meant to be. As Natasha, the actress, I was excited to step into Lanfear, but she grew as well. I know she did come off quite hot, didn't she, with the whole guy with the horse — she blew his head off ... That's not going easy, is it? I don't know what I mean by going easy.

We're grading on a curve.

Yes. I think I've got now Forsaken in my blood, by the way I'm talking. It's like, "It wasn't that bad. She just blew his head off."

But it's not just about the evil deeds; it's also about the politics. When you come into Season 3 — without giving anything away — it opens up the mind to this more vulnerable side of Lanfear and where she's coming from. The relationship with Rand — there are scenes in Series 2 [where] you get little glimpses and nuggets of that, that there is a vulnerability there, or more reasons rather than just being dark and evil.

Circling back to a previous comment, you said Lanfear knows what she wants. As Natasha, what do you think Lanfear wants?

The goal in the whole realm of the world is, if I put it like ... Beyoncé and Jay-Z. She wants to be the king and queen. What she wants is the Dragon and her to be together, have their kingdom, make some good choices. That's her main goal, and to shoo away anybody else that gets in the way of that.

That's perfect.

That's getting straight to the simple goal. I think that's what she's after.

All Season 2 episodes of "The Wheel of Time" are available to binge now on Prime Video.

This interview has been edited for clarity.