AMC’s upcoming drama series Into the Badlands (premiering Nov. 15) is a genre-bending martial arts, sci-fi action odyssey about a distant future in which the only inhabitable lands are in the former American Midwest, and they’re governed by seven feudal Barons who control vital resources.
In the series, Emily Beecham plays The Widow (it’s not just a scary name!), one of the Barons of the Badlands. She controls the oil, and her ambitions disrupt the tenuous peace among the Barons. The Widow has the look of a Steampunk Southern belle with a twist of The Matrix warrior/dominatrix and two deadly daggers as her weapons of choice.
“My character is kind of a bit of a maverick,” Beecham says. “She used a lot of tactics to get ahead. Her work force is dwindling, so she has to resort to using tactics. And, yeah, she is a wealthier baron and she controls the oil.” She also has an all-female army known as the Butterflies, and if they kick half as much ass as she does, the Badlands are in serious trouble.
In a scene previewed for critics at the TCA Summer Press Tour, The Widow enters a bar to confront a Regent. (We’re not quite sure yet what a Regent is, but it sounds cool.) Things escalate quickly and The Widow has to, uh, take out the trash.
“We did we had a five-week training before we started, which was grueling, but great,” Beecham says of the battle training camp the actors attended with martial arts experts. “And we start at 9am and did stretches and learning Shaolin Kung Fu, and wushu, and they kind of design the fights around our strengths. So they got to know us better for five weeks and what we were good at. And I’d done a lot of ballet and yoga, so I was flexible before, but I had to build my strength because things like back bends, all that sort of stuff is really difficult if you’re not strong. So I had to improve on that, and, yeah, they choreographed it, and [Master] D.D. choreographed it around our strengths. So we’re pretty much doing, yeah, most of it. There’s wires here and there, which help us with some of the things I can’t do on my own. I can’t do back flips onto bars on my own.”