Recently we had the chance to talk with Ally Ioannides, who is reprising her role as Tilda on AMC’s Into the Badlands.
So how is the acting life treating you? Is this something you always wanted to do?
Ally: Yeah it is, actually. Even when I’m not acting on camera I’m performing through life, I guess. I’ve always really liked to play, as a child I was always begging people to play with me, play make-believe, I think I was living in a different world as a kid. I grew up in a really magical place, I grew up mostly in Utah and my family lived on a ranch and in my mind, it was like a snowy wonderland. Yeah, it’s just something that has always been in me and it’s really nice when it gets to come out in a futuristic, martial arts world, how fun is that?
You’ve done theater, television, and film. Do you have a favorite medium to work in or do you like mixing it up, going back and forth?
Ally: All of them are so different, I did a lot of theater when I was younger and loved it. I would sit in school and watch the clock tick so that I could go to rehearsal, I can’t even describe to you how much I loved being on stage. You can just go for what seems like forever, on camera you could be doing a take and really getting into it and they yell cut, then set up for the next take and I’m like, but I was just getting there. I love the intimacy of film and I really enjoy watching film, I haven’t done a lot actually, I’ve done mostly TV and I really want to get into film in the future. That’s what I have my eyes on next, doing a film, TV is great as there is so much character and the opportunity to play a teenage assassin and do martial arts while working in Ireland, it’s such an amazing experience. However, you don’t have as much time as you do in a film so I’d love to have the time on film and really dig into something, I’ve never had that experience before.
How did you land the role of Tilda on Into the Badlands and what was your audition like?
Ally: My audition was really easy, actually. I was in New York working on something else, actually, I met with the casting director Margery first, I forgot about that. I met with her and she told me she has this really cool project, about this cult of women, out for equality in this dystopic world, with butterfly ninjas, and I was like wow, this sounds amazing and I got really excited about it. About a month passed I forgot about it and then I got the audition and I filmed it, my mom and dad happened to be there so they helped me and I sent it in. They asked me if I had martial arts experience and I said I didn’t but I dance so they called me in to do a test with Aramis. Aramis and I had a chemistry read, he was really nice, we had a little conversation about things that we like and we realized we like the exact opposite things. (Laughs) After that, they told me I had the part and I was really lucky that I didn’t have to test because Tilda was a recurring character on the show.
Ok, so how much fun is it doing the fight scenes?
Ally: (Laughs) It’s really fun, it’s a mixture of fun and anxiety and anticipation because we don’t know what we’re going to do until five minutes before we shoot it. Basically, you’ll get on set and you will have a rough idea of what the fight is because they do write them in the script but they don’t follow the script at all. Honestly, I don’t even read the fight scenes in the script, you don’t have to, because they are going to completely redo what is there. You get on set and one time this year, I got on set ready to fight, I didn’t know what that would entail and I was handed a whip for that fight, and I had never even held a whip before. They are so good at playing to your strengths in terms of fighting and the camera angles they use, it really helps to showcase what you can do. It is fun while you’re doing it but sometimes there is so much to think about, you’re not really thinking fun. The wirework can be really fun after a while, I mean after I did my first take I thought I was going to throw up. (Laughts) They strap you in this harness, you get hauled up, you can be inverted, and you have to repel down and it’s like holy shit, I’m really going to do this. Once you get past the first time, where it’s really scary, then it becomes a lot of fun. Also, our stunt doubles are amazing and my double, her name is Ching May, she is an actual ninja, she’s incredible, she can do anything. She has no fear whatsoever and I’ll watch her do the stunt first, it’s really helpful, she really inspires me a lot.
Obviously, there is a heavy action element to Into the Badlands but the characters are really well written and interesting as well. What do you enjoy most about playing Tilda?
Ally: I enjoy the way she questions everything and that she’s really thoughtful, which I think is really fun to play. She never really takes anything at face value, that was something that was there in season one and really there in season two. In season three we kind of see the product of all of her internalized thoughts, we see that come to life and that’s really interesting. There is a feeling of growth, and also growing up, how cool is it that I’ve been able to grow up with her? These are really interesting years for me and her, she was kind of a child in the beginning, everything with her mom and questioning that, now she’s away from home and doing her own thing, so the growth of her is really amazing. I love her little vulnerable moments and I also recently realized that I love getting beaten up, when they have a really intense scene and I get to spit up fake blood, I really like it when they have those on the show.
Do you enjoy working with such a large and talented ensemble cast, with so many different characters and personalities to play off of?
Ally: It’s amazing, I love everyone and working with them all on this show. We’ve always had great actors and this year, in particular, has been so much fun. Babou and Lorraine bring this whole new mystical, gorgeous element to the show, they’re really inspiring to me. I really love the realness that Babou brings to and Emily, she has been a real inspiration to me, she is one of the hardest workers I know. She brings so much fun and life to the Widow and she is so much fun to work with, I really love and respect her as a person. It’s great to be friends with everyone, I mean Aramis is like my brother, I love him dearly. When we have scenes together I don’t feel either of us has to act, it’s just so natural and easy, its great.
As we revisit Tilda in season three, she obviously still has some issues to work out with her mother. What can we expect from that relationship as the season goes on?
Ally: So at the beginning of the season she’s off on her own, doing her Robin Hood/vigilante role, stealing supplies from the Widow and giving it to the refugees. It is definitely personal for Tilda, she is so angry with the Widow, and I think she really loves the Widow and that’s where all that hate comes from. She has a lot of pride as well and she needs the Widow to apologize and who knows if that’s going to happen. The Badlands is so crazy that one minute you can be on someone’s side and the next you can be fighting them so it’s really a gamble to say in this series, never mind the first few episodes, whether they are going to be fighting together or fighting each other.
You mentioned the stress you feel sometimes doing fight scenes. Is hard to balance the action with the actual acting?
Ally: Well, we do have two units. We have a fight unit where we do all the fights and then we have the drama unit. However, even when you’re on the fight unit, because the action is such an important part of the show, every fight tells a story. People aren’t fighting just for the sake of fighting, we fight because we’re angry, because we have to and I’ve always found it helpful to add an emotion or motivation in the fight and it makes it more fun, too. You can usually tell if someone is just following the choreography, going through the motions or really be attacking and so it’s just as much acting as it is fighting, honestly, not to mention it’s a lot of fun, too.
Besides Into the Badlands, do you have any other projects coming up?
Ally: I have a short film that I did with my friend Hans Newman, which was really quite different, it’s about love and relationships, and that will be doing the festivals I believe, I’m not really sure yet, so that was fun. That’s about it, for now, I’ve been here for the past eight months filming Into the Badlands.
I want to thank Ally for taking the time to talk with us.
The third season of Into the Badlands premiers Sunday, April 22nd at 10 pm on AMC