Who is the New Mat Cauthon in The Wheel of Time?

Plenty of fans of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time like to pick Mat Cauthon as their favorite character in the overall story, particularly as the lovable rogue became more and more pivotal as the novels unfolded. That appears to be the same case for Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time series, which premieres its second season on Friday, Sept. 1 (with the first three episodes).

The end of Season 1 left Mat Cauthon (then played by Barney Harris) in a very strange and troubling place: on the run and separated from the rest of the core cast. Since then, the show faced a big change, and that was the recasting of Mat with Dónal Finn, whose previous credits include The Witcher, Cursed, and the BAFTA-nominated Rogue Heroes.

Getting to Know the New Mat Cauthon

TVLine spoke with Finn in late June to discuss his Wheel of Time debut, what’s next for Mat Cauthon, and more.

Process and Preparation

“I mean, I kind of tried not to imagine it. [Laughs] I kind of put my head in the sand, because I knew that if I allowed myself some time to stop and think about it, I could get very overwhelmed. But ultimately, knowing how much the fans love this character motivated me to make sure that I was starting it in the right place,” Finn explained when asked about his process for getting up to speed.

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He added, “That process involved kind of gathering up all of the written work of Season 1 and taking all those scripts and mining them to create a backstory for Mat. Then, to kind of flesh that out, what’s been massively useful is delving into the books and mining them for the tone of this man and his ethos and his lust for living life in extremes and also, you know, how he interacts with people, objects in the space. That allowed me to get to know him in a new way.”

A Continuity of Character

Finn revealed that he didn’t watch any of Season 1 before starting his role as Mat. However, he watched it alongside the fans when it got released and was pleased to see that there was some cohesion between Mat in Season 1 and Mat in Season 2. He attributed this to the strong and vivid characterization of Mat by Robert Jordan.

He said, “Those kinds of qualities are in both performances, and sing because of how kind of brilliant he is as a character.”

Mat’s Journey in Season 2

When asked about Mat’s growth and change in the upcoming season, Finn shared, “Where we meet him is in this moment of isolation. He’s in a stage of recovery, but I think that being on his own has left him really reflective and introspective, and kind of introverted. And I think we’ve all had experiences of that, where if you’re on your own, you kind of start to go back through decisions that you’ve made and behaviors and patterns that you’ve kind of lived by. I think that’s where Mat is.”

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He further explored Mat’s inner journey, saying, “I don’t think he reflects happily about the decisions that he made in the previous season, and that maybe starts him on this journey of redemption and asking himself what qualities in his behavior are working for him, and what aren’t. What does he need to say goodbye to? But also, there’s this theme within The Wheel of Time of pre-destiny and pre-determination, so if Mat’s behaviors change, will that have any effect on the person that he sets out to become? Or is that change already written into the pattern, and does he have any say in the person that he is to become?”

Spilling Secrets

Although Finn didn’t reveal any specifics about specific action scenes in Season 2, he did mention that he was no stranger to stunt rehearsals and had the opportunity to explore the physicality of his character.

“I can definitely say that I’ve been no stranger to going to stunt rehearsals and things like that, and that’s been a great part of my job. That, horse riding, getting to grips with this character…. I’ve had a lot of blessings of being able to investigate him in lots of ways, and certainly there’s a physical element to it. For want of a better word, it’s kind of the ‘soldier’ in him that I’ve learned to love and embrace,” Finn shared.

Mat’s Endearing Qualities

Finn touched on the appeal of Mat Cauthon to fans of both the books and the TV series. He said, “Towards the end of the books, there’s a phenomenal line that says it’s the story of a hero who insisted with his last breath that he was anything but a hero, that it’s the story of this man who doesn’t really take credit for the quality of courage and bravery that he has. I think that in times of crisis, he will find it in himself to act incredibly selflessly, to protect those around him, and to work with the intention of being there for those that he loves.”

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He added, “And yet, he’s kind of the last person who gives himself that credit, so there’s a great balance to play with, there, as an actor, to kind of know that you are someone who is wanting to do good, and does good, and yet kind of maybe looks at himself in a different way. I think that’s really endearing, and I maybe when I step outside of that, that’s probably the quality of his character that I find really appealing. And I imagine that the fans of the books kind of associate with the vivaciousness in which he likes to live his life, you know? I think he’s someone who recognizes that they are in a fight, in the mud, with a knife, like every day, but he is choosing to find these moments of lightness and joy, and that’s a very selfless thing. That’s certainly one of the things that I’ve loved playing about him.”

As fans eagerly await the second season of The Wheel of Time, the casting change brings fresh energy to the character of Mat Cauthon. Dónal Finn’s portrayal promises to add new dimensions to Mat’s journey of self-discovery and redemption.

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