Into The Badlands: Ben Papac Reveals The True Nature Of Bale's Friendship With M.K.

In the Badlands, allies can be hard to find, while enemies seem plentiful. Just ask M.K. It seems [...]

Ben Papac Into The Badlands
(Photo: AMC)

In the Badlands, allies can be hard to find, while enemies seem plentiful. Just ask M.K. It seems everyone is out to get him, and on his very first day at the Fort, he was challenged by one of the toughest Colts in the pit.

Curious then that another young Colt, Bale, should come to M.K.'s defense, and outstretch an arm in friendship. In a world where loyalty and is hard won, such an alliance is surely not easy to come by. caught up with Ben Papac, the actor who plays Bale on Into the Badlands, and asked him about his character's friendship with M.K., and what his ultimate goal could be.

Can you tell me a bit about Bale in who he is and how you see him in his place in the world of the Badlands?

BP: Okay, Bale is important. His parents are dead. His sister is a servant or a house Cog, for the Baron where he lives, and he's a Colt in Baron Quinn's army. He is a relentless character who would do anything it takes to survive and get ahead and make sure he has a chance to become a Clipper, which means a better life for himself, and hopefully his sister.

He's a supporting character type to M.K., and our plot lines are going to be mixed for the rest of the season.

Is that willingness to do whatever it takes to survive part of why he decided to stick his neck out for M.K. in first episode, when he seemed to be having a problem with Ajax?

BP: That's exactly why he did it. Bale knows that Ajax is one of the biggest, toughest people in the Pit, which is where we train.I see M.K. get in a fight with him, I see M.K. starting to beat the crap out of him, and so I think, "All right. This guy's strong. He's going to be an ally." So, if I align myself with him maybe I'll get further ahead. Maybe I can deal with Ajax.

What was the training regimen like when you were getting ready for this role, with the martial arts training and all?

BP: Several characters, all the regulars went through several weeks of martial arts training in multiple different styles. I was hired for my role, just a couple of weeks before we started shooting, and I already had some stunt and stage fighting experience, so I went straight into the show and started shooting, started shooting and doing the fights scenes, which you will see more of in episode 5 with my character. But the regulars went through multiple weeks of martial arts training [inaudible 00:02:59].

You did a few episodes of another AMC series, The Walking Dead. How has that experience compared to your experience on Into the Badlands?

BP: It was cool to shoot The Walking Dead, which was actually like 20 minutes from where I grew up. I was visiting my hometown to do that job, which was really fun. They are both really brutal shows. They're both unforgiving, and the character makes a slight mistake, they die. So In that aspect that they are similar, but if you go back to shooting the show though, you are dealing with an entirely different crew though. Yeah, they're both AMC, but nobody on the project is working both. You know what I mean?Tons of new faces. There's not really a sort of carryover from having worked on The Walking Dead to Into the Badlands. It's not like I felt like I was working on the same show in anyway.

Also, Into The Badlands has such a huge martial arts focus there's so much stylized action and combat, where in The Walking Dead they're mostly relying on firearms or untrained physical combat. Simple stuff like that, you know, chopping someone's head off in with an ax, so that's very different too.

We've seen M.K. acting out a bit, where he's sneaking out, he's stealing other people's things, going where he doesn't belong. For Bale, is he looking at this friendship he made and wondering if this was a wise decision?

BP: Yeah, you could look at it that way. Bale sees M.K. as tough, so strength can help him out. After his fight with Ajax in the pit, and then within hours, M.K. is sneaking into the Barron's son's room to try to steal something, and in some way I guess I feel I got in a little bit over my head, like what's this guy doing? I don't want to get involved in this, but I still try to help him, because if he gets caught it's bad for everybody, and then as the plot continues, and by the time we get to episode 4, M.K. and Bale are in very different places. You remember that scene where I'm training with someone and I'm trying to M.K. to help me work out a move and he's not even responding?

BP: At that point, M.K. is off in his own world. Bale and M.K. aren't really connecting. Bale's trying to figure out what's going on, and what's going on with M.K., and there is sort of a rift that seems to develop. It's not necessarily because the two characters disagree, just because there's stuff that M.K. is dealing with, and Bale doesn't even know anything about it. Our priorities are different now, I think.

Does the decimation of Quinn's Clipper force at the end of Episode 4 effect Bale's outlook on his life goals at all?

BP: No. Bale's only option in front of him is to become a Clipper. He's never going to be able to join any other Baron, he'll never have a better life, than if he becomes a Clipper for his Baron.

Petri is my Clipper. I'm his Colt. He's the one who's training me. My hope is that I will show Petri I am so confident, so skilled as a soldier, that he'll make me a Clipper sooner, and I'll be able to take care of myself and survive and help the Baron in this fight against the Widow, and any other rival who shows up.

There is only one option for Bale, and that's forward, to become a Clipper, that's it. If he doesn't succeed at that then he'll probably die.

You mentioned that we'll get to see Bale in action in Episode 5. Can you tease out anything about what that might happen, and what that fight scene will be like?

BP: I think the only thing I can safely say is, you already mentioned that Quinn's Clipper force is starting to get torn apart. So, let's just say they start bringing Colts out on missions, and we're going to go out and try to fight, with the Clippers.

Into the Badlands airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.