Fans of the martial arts genre will be salivating with the impending arrival of the terrific new all-action series Warrior, which chronicles the journey of young martial arts protege Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji), who immigrates from China to San Francisco in the second half of the 1800s and gets caught up in the brutal Tong Gang Wars that threatened to tear the city apart. With his back against the wall, and enemies coming from every corner, this dangerous hero will have to do everything he has to in order to survive.
Based on the writings by martial arts cinema legend Bruce Lee and adapted to television by Jonathan Trooper (Banshee) and Justin Lin (Fast & Furious), Warrior is this year’s must watch explosive action television event and it will seriously amp up your adrenaline.
We’re lucky enough to feature an interview with Warrior stars Dean Jagger who portrays Dylan Leary and Joanna Vanderham who portrays Penelope Blake, and these two performers offer audiences plenty of awesome information about the upcoming series:
Q: What can you tell us about Penelope?
Joanna Vanderham: My character Penelope is married to the mayor of San Francisco, she married him in a bid to save her family’s company. It’s a loveless marriage but she’s the one who made the decision to marry him, and so she’s fighting this inner battle. She also resents everything about him – his politics, his racism, every single viewpoint he has. That’s how you meet Penny. But what I loved as I discovered more about her, as the season went on, is she’s the sort of righteous woman who thinks she knows everything, but in each scene she realises the world doesn’t work how she was brought up to think it does
Q: And who is Dylan?
Dean S. Jagger: He’s an Irish ex-bare-knuckle boxing champion who’s the head of the unofficial labour movement in San Francisco. Dylan’s biggest challenge is to stand up for the Irish workers and make sure they get a fair shot and aren’t kicked out.
But he can clearly see the beginning of the end for the Irish and, through the season, he does step outside of the law in order to get things done.
I connect to Dylan because he’s all about community. I grew up in a small mining town in Yorkshire around builders and other hard-working men, so that really attracted me to Dylan – he stands up for them and is making sure they can put food on the table.
Q: Do you see your characters as morally-ambiguous, and is that going to keep the audience guessing?
Dean S. Jagger: Dylan is a bad good guy or a good bad guy – one of the two. Everyone in the story is hurting to some degree – they all toe the line between good and bad. It wasn’t an easy time to be alive and that’s what drew me to the period. Through the season, you start to learn why Dylan is the way he is.
Joanna Vanderham: Everyone has a moral code – it’s just very specific to each individual character and, when you first meet them, you can’t necessarily put your finger on where they draw the line. That’s what makes it a really interesting series – you, as the viewer, think you’ve got someone pegged and you know where they stand, and then you see that get flipped on its head!
Q: Did you know much about this period or did you do research? And were you struck by the similarities between the politics then and now?
Joanna Vanderham: I think that was the point – that’s why they set it in the year that they did, just before the Chinese Exclusion Act. That wasn’t a period of history I was familiar with, especially in San Francisco. So I went to San Francisco before we started filming and went to Chinatown there. Getting to then be immersed in that world was really special.
Q: Dylan has some brutal fight scenes. How did you approach those, Dean, given your background as a boxer?
Dean S. Jagger: It’s just brawling, basically. That’s what Dylan is – he is a brawler with no finesse. He’s the type of guy that thrives the more he gets hurt, and that’s a dangerous person. Whereas you’ve got Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji), who’s this unbelievable martial artist – kung fu and high-action stuff. With Dylan, it’s more of a brute trainwreck coming right at you – he likes to get hit and he likes to hit you.
But the training was amazing and the stunt people were unbelievable. There was a lot more preparation than I expected.
Q: What significance does the Bruce Lee connection to the show mean for you personally? And did you learn anything new about him making this series?
Dean S. Jagger: The fact that this is a story that Bruce Lee wanted to tell, and it’s pretty profound stuff – who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be Bruce Lee – everyone did, I think. From the generation before us to now, everyone knows who Bruce Lee is. My brother, Ben, was an avid fan – he had pictures of him up on his bedroom wall. And I watched nearly every Bruce Lee movie.
Joanna Vanderham: My knowledge of him was just as an actor, but in doing the show, I realised how much of a philosopher he was as well. In our production office, they have some of his sayings painted on the walls. His presence is definitely there, and having (his daughter) Shannon (Lee) be such a big part of this, we feel really honoured. It’s the seal of approval – the family stamp of “this is what he wanted to make”.
Warrior is set to premiere on SoHo at 9.30pm on April 10, and NEON the next day on April 11.
Source/Images: SKY TV