The Shadow and Bone Cast discuss real magic
The Shadow and Bone universe is filled with magic, from bolts of light that shoot out of characters’ hands to ancient swords that can slice through seemingly indestructible shadows. In the world of Shadow and Bone, however, these powers are not actually referred to as magic – they are instead referred to as “minor science,” or the art of manipulating matter, and the characters who practice them are called Grisha.
There are three main categories of Grisha – the Corporalki, Etherealki, and Materialki – and each is divided into sub-groups such as Inferni, who can manipulate fire; Heartrenders, who can control people’s internal organs and also detect when people are telling the truth; and Durasts, who can bend and move metals with their wits. But in the real world, the cast of Shadow and Bone have differing opinions on which powers are the most coveted.
For Patrick Gibson, who stars as Stormhound in the show’s second season, being a Durast sounds most appealing. “You can make stuff,” he tells POPSUGAR. “It’s like a 3D printer.” (“Nothing says sexier than a 3D printer,” quips Anna Leong Brophy, who plays Tamar Kir-Bataar, a member of Sturmhond’s crew.)
Meanwhile, Lewis Tan – another Season 2 newcomer who plays Tolya Yul-Bataar, Tamar’s brother and crew member – would stick with the same enhanced abilities he has on screen. “I really like heart rendering,” he says. “I think that’s interesting. I think I like the idea of being able to track people down, you know? I think I would stick with what I have.”
Tan isn’t the only actor who would like to use an aspect of his character in real life. Starring as the ultra-powerful, ultra-rare sun summoner Alina, Jessie Mei Li would love it if she could soak up some of her character’s jizz. “I think I’d like to be a little more lively,” she says when asked if there’s a part of her character she’d like to have off-screen. “I’m pretty mild-mannered, and I feel like Alina can be a little prickly,” she laughs. “I’d like to be a little sharper. Maybe people wouldn’t mess with me.”
It’s a little trickier for Ben Barnes, who plays the shadow-evoking General Kirigan – a “psychotic villain,” as he readily admits. Still, he says, he wouldn’t mind having some of Kirigan’s “quiet authority in public speaking.”
While it’s sadly (or fortunately, depending on who you’re playing) actors who find it difficult to absorb their characters’ qualities into their real lives, some aspects of the Shadow and Bone universe seem to have found their way into the cast’s lives . Some of the cast, in particular, say they’ve sneaked a bit of the show’s magic into their reality — if it wasn’t already there.
“Right before filming began for the show, I attempted to tap into Tamar’s magical abilities. She has absolute confidence in her abilities,” explains Leong Brophy. “I remember pulling a tarot card and thinking, that will tell me something about this ability. And it was the magician. And when I pulled it, this little ray of sunshine just came through the window and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m magical.’ That felt pretty magical. It definitely felt like a good omen.”
Meanwhile, Danielle Galligan, who plays heartrender Nina, also says she feels connected to the unseen world. “I have a little thing with my grandpa who passed away,” she says. “He always gave me small coins, like pocket money. Every time I see a little coin, I think it’s like my grandfather would give me a little bit, ‘You have this kid.’ It always happens [during] very interesting or difficult times. When I’m nervous about something, there’s always a little penny lying around and I’m like, ‘Oh, perfect.’ I was having a really bad day at the gym a while ago and there were two cents under the leg press he left me. So that’s my witch thing with my grandfather. That’s my magic.”
Calahan Skogman, who plays Nina’s lover Matthias, can attest to the fact that magic is everywhere – but only if you’re willing to see it. “I think there’s a lot of magic everywhere if you look for it,” he says. “There are so many signs when you’re open to it … In terms of the show, the whole experience of how I landed the role, and me and Danielle, and the whole crazy journey of it and how fast it moved, was direct of a picture book and was certainly quite magical.”
And the magic – or the synchronicity or whatever you want to call those moments that seem to point to a larger plan or structure of the universe – has continued well beyond the filming process. “Even yesterday when I walked to Danielle’s, I tried to give her directions and everything,” he says. “I thought turn left, but she should have turned right… Anyway, I finally see her on the other side of this sidewalk, and I just look up and over her head and there’s this huge ‘Shadow and Bone’- Billboard.” He laughs. “I just point to it and she looks up and sees it. To me, these are little moments of magic because what are the odds of that happening?”
Like many of the characters in Shadow and Bone, Galligan’s and Skogman’s characters share a strong bond that they both fight for, no matter the cost. Romance and connection are at the heart of the show, from Mal (Archie Renaux) and Alina’s strong bond to Kaz (Freddy Carter) and Inej’s (Amita Suman) fragile trust in one another. Love is arguably one of the most magical, transcendent experiences available to the denizens of our world – and the characters of Shadow and Bone certainly share deep, world-spanning connections to one another, though they’re not without complications. The cast also seem to have a lot of affection for one another, which is perhaps a source of the magic that shimmers throughout the show and sometimes finds its way into their offscreen lives.
“I try to think of the things we did to enjoy ourselves when we were in a freezing cold tent,” laughs Brophy when asked about her fondest memories on set. “There’s quite a lot of memories of us being freezing on that boat just trying to snuggle up,” adds Tan. “There are many stories.”
Shadow and Bone Season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.