Rafe Judkins (‘The Wheel of Time’ showrunner): ‘Television is at its best when everyone who comes to the table is lifting it up’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“I’m not one of those showrunners who is like, ‘this is my vision and everyone hop on board’,” Rafe Judkins declares about how he approached bringing the epic fantasy series to life. “I think that television is at its best when everyone who comes to the table is lifting it up,” he says. “When you have that and you have people creatively invested, then you can really make something that feels special and you feel people’s passion for it on the screen.”

We talked with Judkins as part of Gold Derby’s special TV showrunners “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with key award contenders. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

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Judkins, a former “Survivor” castaway who’s worked on “Chuck” and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” adapted the Robert Jordan fantasy novel series “The Wheel of Time” for Amazon Prime. The series follows Moraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the Aes Sedai, a group of women with magical powers, who takes five villagers on a trek in the hopes of figuring out if one of them is a reincarnation of the Dragon, a powerful force that could save the world or end it. The series also stars Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, Zoë Robins, Barney Harris, Madeleine Madden and Daniel Henney.

Judkins often hears that Jordan’s novels defy adaptation, because of their epic scale and sprawling locations and character arcs. Navigating the delicate balance between keeping die-hard fans of the novels happy, but also welcoming newcomers to the series was definitely one of the challenges of bringing this show to life.

“For a long time, people have been trying to pull it off as a feature film and I do think it defies adaptation in that space. But, in the television space, I do think that there is enough time to live with these characters, to understand them the way that you do in the books,” Judkins explains.

“My biggest job is condensing and making sure that the story can track for people who aren’t familiar with this giant world with 2,700 named characters and different cultures and cities. I think the thing that people liked the most about the books was that there were these five characters at the core of them that they could just attach to and see through essentially their whole lives. That’s the thing we’ve leaned into with the show; just a razor sharp focus on these characters at the center of it and their emotional lives and follow them through it.”

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