The Wheel of Time's Hammed Animashaun on Understanding Loial

The Wheel of Time has introduced a fan-favorite character to the series, and spoke with actor Hammed Animashaun on how he brought the famed Ogier to life. In last week's episode of The Wheel of Time, viewers were introduced to the Ogier Loial. A lover of knowledge, Loial quickly gets swept into the dangers and adventure of the rest of the cast and is set to play a critical role for the remainder of the season. To get into Loial's head and find out what it was like playing such a unique character, we spoke with Loial's actor Hammed Animashaun about the character and the events of the last two episodes.

(Photo: Amazon Studios) You play Loial, who is an Ogier and one of the few non-human characters in the show thus far.  How did you get into the mindset of playing an Ogier given that they are portrayed as being very different from all the human characters that we've seen so far?

Hammed Animashaun: When I first got the role, I did a lot of research about Loial and also about the Ogier and trying to get a sense of the kind of creatures they were. Everyone, everything has an aura, a spirit about them, and so I wanted to try and capture their spirit, what are the Ogier about? And when I found that out, it was pretty simple... Not simple, but it made sense. It became clear to me that Ogier are nothing more than lovers and protectors of life, of nature.

The people that I know who are like that are the nicest, most beautiful, sweetest people in the world. So, it became clear to me very quickly of how I could make my own interpretation of such a beloved character as someone who is a protector and lover of knowledge, a lover of nature, and someone who is just loyal to everyone, pun intended. So, once I started to do that research, it was very clear to me on how I can take this character further. And for him to become a part of me as well.

One of the things that I really liked about Loial and how he is depicted in the show, he's very deliberate and he's very observational. And he's always bringing knowledge, especially in that opening conversation he has with Rand. There's a lot of foreshadowing in that conversation that Rand is brushing off, either because he doesn't want to hear it or because he's too hasty. How do you think Loial's perspective will benefit the other characters in the long run as we see the relationships play out between him and the other cast members?

Animashaun: That's a really good question. Because I find Loial so literal, he doesn't really understand a metaphor or anything like that. Everything that he sees in front of him is what he sees. I think his interactions with the other characters will be quite special because they'll be able to have a conversation with somebody who doesn't lie, or never intentionally lies and always tells you the truth. And I think that's going to be something quite special when he starts interacting with other characters. They'll see something in themselves that they probably will never really see when they speak or interact with Loial.

That's a really interesting contrast to the Aes Sedai, who cannot lie due to the nature of their bonds, but are always finding ways around that. We see Loial getting pulled into the main plotline of the story through those manipulations, first with how Loial finds Nynaeve, and then when he agrees to go on this journey through the Ways with Moiraine. And I was curious, do you think that Loial knows that he's being manipulated? Or is he just being accommodating and respectful because that is what sort of person he is?

Animashaun: I don't know. What do you think?

I think it's a little bit of both. I think he has more respect for the Aes Sedai than other characters we've seen, but at the same time, I think that he's more willing to go along with it because obviously these people want something.

Animashaun: I think you're right. Loial honors tradition and he respects everyone. So, when he's asked to guide the team through the Ways, of course, he's going to say yes. There is some trepidation, but he wants to help because that's the kind of person, that's the kind of creature that Loial is. He wants to help everyone. He wants everyone to be okay. And if he can do his part, he would do his part. So of course, why would he say no?

There might be a sense or an ulterior motive when it comes to Moiraine. I don't think he's necessarily thinking about that. I think he just wants to help at that moment.

This is why Loial's one of my favorite characters in the books, because he's so genuine in all of his interactions and that's a really great way to describe this personality. I do have a technical question that I'm curious about. You're also one of the few characters who has prosthetics and makeup, how long did that take before filming scenes? 

Animashaun: So, we've now got it down to about two and a half hours, but in the beginning it was something like three and a half, four hours.

(Photo: Amazon Studios)

That's intense. And Loial is portrayed as taller than the other characters in the show. I was curious, are you naturally much taller than everybody else on set or do they use perspective work on the set? 

Animashaun: It's a very tall cast. So, I had to be just that little bit taller. So yeah, there's a lot of magic happens on set.

At the end of the most recent episode, we see Loial accompanying the others to the Waygate and enter the Ways. I was wondering if you could preview what the Ways are like and what Loial's views on the Ways are for our readers.

Animashaun: As I mentioned before, Moiraine comes to Loial and asks if he could guide them through the Ways. There's a very trepidatious nature to that because of what's happened to the Ways and his feelings towards that. So, of course, he's very, at first, very anxious about it, but he wants to help. And at the beginning, when they go into the Ways, things happen that I can't really talk about. But I can tell you that it's very high octane, very dramatic, great, amazing, incredible performances from every single person. I cannot tell you how much in awe I am in every single person that I continuously work with on a daily basis. But yeah, the Ways, it's a very special moment in the series. I think you're going to enjoy it a lot.

The Wheel of Time is streaming on Amazon Prime now. New episodes are added every Friday.