This article contains spoilers through The Shadow Rising.
Gentle, relentless, thoughtful, intense—Perrin Aybara embodies a depth and a complexity of character that many Wheel of Time fans are curious to see translated to the screen. Hopes are high that Perrin’s emotional journey in the books will be done justice—particularly given that showrunner Rafe Judkins has shared that Marcus Rutherford’s audition “made every single person watching cry.”
Join us as Bayrd al’Syeen, Cahalan Sothron, Elanda Tonil, and Leala al’Dareis discuss Perrin’s best early scenes, his impact on readers, what that audition scene might have been—and more!
Q: What Perrin moment(s) from the first two books are you most excited to see Marcus Rutherford play on screen?
Elanda: Meeting Elyas, for sure! That’s one of my favorite sequences in the entire series. It’s our first hint that this isn’t just a world that has the One Power, it’s a world with a lot of complexity and who knows what else we haven’t encountered yet. Elyas is also an unknown—his alignment is unknown and he is guiding Perrin onto a path with uncertain consequences. It’s a powerful scene and it does a lot in opening up the potential of the Wheel of Time universe.
Bayrd: One has to be Perrin’s fight with the Whitecloaks alongside Hopper and the wolves in the abandoned stedding in The Eye of the World. Another is when the Heroes of the Horn are summoned in The Great Hunt to assist at Falme. Artur Hawkwing says something about something “holding” him in place. He asks where the “Banner” is, and when Rand pulls out the Dragon Banner he just kind of sits there holding it. Perrin, without being asked, jumps off his horse and strides into the fog that the Heroes came out of. He chops down a sapling with one swing, comes back, and he and Rand tie the Banner to the newly made pole. After Hawkwing has some amazing dialogue with Hurin, Rand, and Mat, he turns to Perrin and says, “Bannerman, will you advance?” I know Perrin will be stoic and grim-faced for most of this, but I really hope to see some awesome facial reactions about how amazing it is that Artur Paendrag Tanreall Hawkwing is asking him to lead their charge!
Leala: I’m looking forward to seeing the scenes where he’s first separated from Rand and Mat, and is on his own with Egwene. This is where I think his character first starts changing on his own. He has to think about how to protect Egwene, but also how to work with her without upsetting her. This is also where he first starts realizing he can talk to wolves. When I first read the books, I related to Perrin, because he was the gentle giant. He stood to the side, but did his best to help out. It really helped me as a young person to see that someone with a calm and quiet demeanor had someone this powerful hiding within them. Perrin has a subtle intensity about him, and the first book does a really good job of establishing that.
Cahalan: Assuming, of course, that we see all his parts in the first couple of books, I can’t wait to see his range. Because to me, Perrin has some of the wildest emotional swings in the first half of the series. I want to see his awkwardness around the Tinkers and Egwene when she starts emulating them. His confusion when he meets Elyas and talks to the wolves. His unbridled rage with the Whitecloaks. His reluctance to acknowledge he can act as a “sniffer” in Hurin’s place. Really, I can’t wait to see him do all the Perrin things!
Q: Is there anything new you think the television adaptation will bring to Perrin’s character for you? What do you hope Marcus Rutherford will be able to bring to the role?
Bayrd: Like most page-to-screen adaptations, it’s really going to be hard bringing characters’ inner thoughts out on camera. If you’ve read and seen The Hunger Games, you’ll know what I mean. While on the page we can simply read what a character is thinking, it’s hard to have that inner voice [on screen] without it sounding cheesy, so it takes a lot of acting chops to show what a character feels and thinks in scenes. To show Perrin’s forethought and methodical thinking is, in my opinion, going to be hard, but I am playing the optimist and thinking Marcus will be able to do a great job with that! In short, I hope he shows Perrin’s methodical, strategic cleverness as well as the character deserves.
Leala: I hope they bring in something with Perrin’s family. We never really got to see much with them until they were all killed off-screen. That clearly upset Perrin, and I hope that in a visual medium we can at least get a flashback or two.
Cahalan: I hope he’s able to bring a strong presence to the role. Marcus seems like a tall guy, so I want to see how he’s able to use the space he has to look intimidating while still being the nicest guy in the room.
Elanda: I hope he’s able to capture Perrin’s quiet strength and to bring him a bit more to the forefront of the story. Perrin felt like a bit of an afterthought for a good bit of the first book or two, but I’m optimistic that Marcus Rutherford will be able to give him more presence in the story than he had in the books.
Q: How do you imagine Perrin’s first entrance on screen? What kind of feel do you hope it will have?
Leala: I honestly think Perrin’s first appearance shouldn’t be that dramatic. When we first meet him [in the books], he’s joining his friends in a crowd around Padan Fain’s wagon. He’s the quiet one of the three main boys, and he comes off as the big brother type to the larger group of boys we first meet in Emond’s Field. I think a simple close up on Rand and Mat where Perrin joins them for a simple introduction and a little small talk to establish dynamic should do it.
Elanda: I’d like a scene that shows us pretty clearly that he identifies himself as a blacksmith, and deep down he truly doesn’t want to hurt a fly. His turmoil over the axe and the hammer is one of his biggest character-building arcs and I’d like to see that aspect of his character and his arc established right from the beginning. I think in order to fit with Perrin’s personality, especially his early-books personality, it will need to have somewhat subtle music and lighting. I can’t see Perrin feeling like Perrin if he were introduced roaring as he cut off a Trolloc’s head or anything like that.
Bayrd: Personally I am hoping he comes onto the scene when Mat and Rand are moving the casks for Tam into the storeroom of the Winespring Inn. I want him to be a little snarky, catching them by surprise and showing his nimbleness and ability to be light-footed for someone as big as he is, and to have some sort of wiseass comment. Then it can contrast to later when he is more reserved and thoughtful when presented new information and put into unfamiliar situations.
Cahalan: It’s been long enough ago that I don’t know if I have a particular image in my head of how it’d look. I expect Perrin to be glad to see Rand and amused but also mildly annoyed by Mat. I see him at the beginning of the story to be a bit of the older brother to the other two, which is where his exasperation with Mat comes from. I also anticipate him being a bit awkward socially because of his size, like trying to make himself seem smaller than he actually is. Really I just hope they don’t make him clumsy, and let us see him as thoughtful and deliberate as well as enormous.
Q: Is there a scene or a line from the first few books that you see as absolutely central to Perrin’s character in The Wheel of Time—something you can’t imagine being cut?
Leala: This may or may not be a controversial opinion, but I’ve always read Perrin as a character with anxiety, and that has been essential to his character development for me throughout his entire arc. From task avoidance to obsessive and cyclical thoughts, he’s got a lot of the symptoms of someone with an anxiety disorder, even early on. I think the most critical event for that for me in the first few books is meeting Noam. Perrin is a very careful person, and has found out that he has a lost Talent, but the thought of losing humanity is a reminder that comes up again and again as he trains and avoids training in the Wolf Dream. I know some fans complain about that part of his journey, but in my opinion, how a character faces and overcomes faults and obstacles are crucial. If it takes longer than you’d probably like, then it just makes them more relatable.
Cahalan: Any of the scenes around the wolves. Those establish him as a Wolfbrother and everything that comes along with it. It also ties into his continual internal conflict between the hammer and the axe, and how he just wants to be a smith and not Young Bull. Cutting that too severely or, Light help us, cutting it completely would harm his onscreen foundation.
Bayrd: Other than the obvious meet up with Elyas, I can’t really pick a specific scene from those books. I think it will be important to show Perrin’s range. I hope they don’t make him the stoic, silent, big guy. I want them to show his snarkiness, the gentle almost-meekness he displays sometimes, as well as his mirth like when dancing in the inn with Moiraine, Nynaeve, and Egwene—all the way to when he is forced to fight and kill Whitecloaks.
Elanda: I’m going to have to go with Perrin meeting Elyas. That encounter set him on an entirely different personal path than the one he started on. He went from a ta’veren stuck following Rand to a Wolfbrother determined to take on the Dark One and his allies with his brother wolves.
Q: Rafe Judkins revealed that Marcus Rutherford “read a scene that made every single person watching cry.” Which scene do you imagine it was? Which scene do you imagine will hit you the hardest?
Cahalan: Man, I hope it’s the scene with Hopper’s sacrifice. Unless they move events from The Shadow Rising up earlier into the series, I can’t think of a more emotional moment Perrin has than that one. Also, though it may not come in the first season of the show, I can’t wait to see Perrin meet Noam. Those scenes are very central to how I see and relate to Perrin, and are important to who he is at the core.
Elanda: The scene where Hopper dies makes me bawl like a baby every time. I cry when my Kindle robot reads it to me so I could definitely envision everyone crying when an actor reads it.
Bayrd: I think it is when Bran tells him that his family is dead. Perrin is confused at first, then disbelieving, and he talks about his mother and siblings. It’s sure to bring a tear to anyone’s eyes.
Leala: Oh, dang. I have actually given this a lot of thought, and it depends on what dialogue they’ve given which scenes. I think it might have been Hopper’s death. That would have been the first time that Perrin experienced a wolf’s pain and death, and one that he had bonded with. It hits me every time I read it. I do believe this would also be the scene where he snapped and killed Whitecloaks. Either way, that’s going to be an incredible scene to act out, and I cannot wait!!
Q: Which other character are you most interested in seeing Perrin interact with on screen? Is there a relationship dynamic from the first two books you’re particularly interested in seeing?
Elanda: I’m interested in seeing his interactions with Moiraine. It’s hard to imagine a big guy as deferential to Moiraine as the books describe and it seems like it would be a hard thing for an actor to capture. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing that! I also love all of Lan’s interactions with the Two Rivers folk so I’m really looking forward to seeing Lan and Perrin together.
Bayrd: If they don’t end up cutting the Ogier out of the show entirely (either extinct or to never have existed, which would be sad but something I can see them maybe needing to do), I really look forward to seeing his relationship with Loial. They are two awesome characters, and they have some fantastic fight scenes together as well as really interesting dialogue.
Cahalan: Obviously him and Elyas together. I’m super interested to see that. But mostly I can’t wait to see him and Loial together. Okay, really Loial and anyone, but I always liked these two together.
Leala: Egwene, actually. When he’s separated from the group and is isolated with her, this is where he’s out of his element for the first time, and is forced to figure out what to do. It’s the same situation for Egwene as well. When I was first reading the book, I was a little confused at this pairing at first, because I wasn’t expecting it, but I think it helped them in the long run. It helped Perrin become more assertive and decisive, and it helped Egwene become more grounded in the adventure and see what she was getting herself into.
While there is the hope that crucial scenes won’t be cut, there are also so many possibilities for bringing this beloved character to life on screen. With so much dynamic source material for Perrin’s on-screen adaptation, what are you hoping to see for his character?