Amazon's The Wheel of Time series made quite a few changes in its adaptation of the source material. Due to the shift in character dynamics to make the series more of an ensemble cast work, Mat Cauthon is one of the most interesting characters so far. Already, his role is more prominent, as well as enigmatic. It was therefore a great surprise to find out that Mat has been recast and will be played by a different actor in Season 2. So, is there an explanation?
The Wheel of Time: Who Is Mat Cauthon?
Mat is a 20-year-old villager from the Two Rivers, and one of the candidates taken by Moiraine under the suspicion that he could be the Dragon Reborn. While the character isn't exactly groundbreaking, many viewers warmed up to him. His roguish style and thieving ways strike a chord with a generation used to magical heists and rogue main characters.
Mat's character arc is one of the most tragic ones so far, as, compared to his four friends, he left too much behind. Early on, it's revealed that Mat is almost the sole caretaker of his two young sisters, as their alcoholic parents cannot protect them. He's therefore reasonably frustrated at having to leave his family behind and knows that they might not make it without him.
Mat becomes a bit less sympathetic as the show progresses. Like his friends, he develops some sort of magical power, but his makes him sick, irritable, and potentially violent. His backstory and archetype nevertheless make him an engaging character we want to know better.
The Wheel of Time: Mat Recast Explained
It can be generally assumed that few franchises would like to recast in the middle of production, but this is exactly what happened in The Wheel of Time. While Mat was portrayed by Barney Harris in the first season, Dónal Finn has taken over the role in Season 2, which is already in the making.
Amazon has not provided details as to why they made this choice. However, it seems highly unlikely that Barney Harris' performance was found lacking, as he's arguably good at portraying one of the show's most intriguing characters.
Internal cast dynamics or schedule conflicts seem like a more plausible cause in this case. The Wheel of Time is currently trying to establish itself as the new cool go-to in the fantasy scene, much like The Witcher and Shadow and Bone or, earlier, Game of Thrones. While it hasn't gained that level of momentum yet, The Wheel of a Time is an ambitious, fast-moving project. Season 2 is in the making even as the first Season is ongoing, and Season 3 has also been confirmed.
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While this sounds like an actor's dream, some might not wish to be tied to a project - and a specific character - for too long. Such a sentiment could have influenced the actor's decision. But, according to some viewers, this recasting might not be an entirely negative thing.
Early on, Mat comes in contact with a dagger that corrupts its user, and, moving forward, he's not quite himself. Until he's cured in Book 2, he does horrible things some fans can't forgive. A fresh face might remove some of the bad feelings associated with the character's actions when he wasn't himself.
Of course, one can argue that keeping the same cast makes a show look much more professional, so the recast might prove problematic in the long run. As Season 2 is not released yet, it's a bit early to tell. Closer to its release date, we hope to provide more information about the recast - and its consequences for the future of the Amazon Prime original.