Shadow and Bone is the highly anticipated Netflix adaptation of the fantasy adventure novels written by American author Leigh Bardugo.
The eight-episode series based on the Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows duology is about a teenage orphan who grows up in the Russia-inspired war-torn land of Ravka before her entire life changes when she unexpectedly harnesses a power she never knew she had to save her best friend.
Cast as Jesper Fahey is the talented actor Kit Young. After training at RADA he graduated in 2017and since then his career has steadily evolved over the past few years with his theatre credits including as Octavius in a production of Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre in 2018, Malcolm in Macbeth at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe Theatre and Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Bridge Theatre which earned him an Ian Charleson Award nomination.
We spoke to Kit about the upcoming series, his new love for the Shadow and Bone book series and his upcoming projects …
Please introduce yourself…
Hi, my name is Kit Young. I grew up in Oxfordshire, England. But since training to be an Actor at RADA I live in London. I’m mixed race, my father is Scottish and my mum is Ugandan.
What word or sentence best describes your life right now?
Exciting. I can’t believe the things I’ve spent so long working on are finally going to be seen by such a large number of people.
Were you aware of the Shadow and Bones trilogy and its sequel the Six of Crows duology (which are what this series is based on) before getting involved in the project, if not did you enjoy reading them later?
I wasn’t familiar with the books, (I’m not as young as I look) but I think I’d heard of Six of Crows before. Once I got the role of Jesper in the show I immediately binged the trilogy and the duology within two weeks (probably the fastest I’ve ever read in my life) and I fell in love with the world – I’m a big nerd.
The books have a huge fanbase and there is always a level of mistrust from readers when adapting for screen that justice won’t be served, did you feel any pressure to get it right while filming the series?
A little bit. I am one of the fans who gets worried when something I love gets adapted. But normally I love what is made regardless just because it exists. I felt incredibly supported by the whole team of writers, the cast, and the crew. More than anything I felt blessed to create this character for screen from the ground up because we meet Jesper in the show at an earlier point in his life than in Leigh Bardugo’s amazing books.
Can you tell us more about Jesper and how he fits into the story and how he develops throughout the series?
Jesper is one of the rogues of Ketterdam. He’s part of this gang – The Crows along with Kaz and Inej. He’s the sharpshooter, gunslinger, and gambler and is always up for a good time and can never walk away from a wager. He’s a flirt and is normally the best-dressed person around. As a part of Kaz’s crew, he’s recruited to help kidnap Alina Starkov, the show’s heroine for a million Kruge (a lot of money) but this proves more difficult than Jesper had initially realised. Throughout the series, he begins to learn that the people he’s on this journey with (The other Crows) mean more to him than the prize. Friendship and having your partners’ backs are far more valuable and worth fighting for.
So as Jesper character is a gun-slinger, did you have any professional training in handling guns?
I definitely needed help. I’m no natural with firearms. I had a month of stunt training for all the choreography and tricks and then also sessions at a shooting range to prepare for the role. I started out awfully but by the time we needed to see it all on camera, I think I was a bit better than they were expecting. Now spinning these guns is just a habit of mine. I have my own prop pair like a kids toy that I’m constantly using around the house. I imagine it probably gets quite boring and tedious for those I’m around.
Jesper is a bisexual man and has a gambling addiction we don’t often see themes such as these explored in fantasy dramas is this something the series will delve into?
Short answer – Yes. There’s still a lot more to explore with Jesper when it comes to his relationships and addictions, but we definitely get a taste. These are huge aspects of who he is so it would be wrong if we didn’t touch on them. I’m just hungry to delve deeper.
What are the most significant parts from the books that were kept for the series and were there any changes that were made that diverged from the books?
The majority of the Shadow and Bone plot from the first book is in the show. The main obvious difference is that Kaz, Inej & Jesper are in it at all. The writers have done an amazing job of weaving us into the story and creating a whole new adventure that book readers won’t be familiar with yet. It was so exciting for all of us making the show to faithfully adapt aspects of the books and to add new things too. It’s adventurous and epic in scale, there’s romance and friendship, light and darkness, magic and practical action, the costumes and design are fantastic – just watch it! It’s loads of fun and a brand new world for viewers to dive into.
Would you encourage audiences to read the books before watching the series?
If you want to. But you won’t have long before things might get spoiled for you with the show coming out. You can watch first or read first it’s up to each individual. You can enjoy the Grishaverse in a variety of ways.
What was your favourite scene to shoot?
The maddest one was “The Train” sequence. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. It’s hard to choose a favourite but that one immediately stands out to me.
What’s next for you?
I’m in a really cool horror movie that should be coming out hopefully this year if not early next year called The Origin we shot that in Scotland at the end of 2020. Really, really excited for people to see that because it’s so different from Shadow & Bone. And at the moment I’m currently shooting The School for Good & Evil by Soman Chainani with director Paul Feig. This time I get to play the villain, so that’s also very exciting. I’m over the moon and I can’t believe people are now getting a chance to see some of this work!
GETTING TO KNOW YOU:
● A book you have to have in your collection? The full works of William Shakespeare. I’m a classical theatre guy at heart.
● A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date? Songs in the Key of Life – Stevie Wonder. Listen to it all the way through, you won’t regret it.
● A film / TV show that you can watch/have watched repeatedly? Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I cannot get enough of that show.
● The first stage production you saw and what it meant to you? I think it was a pantomime. Peter Pan. First time seeing people fly in front of my eyes. Need I say more?
● What’s made you sad, mad, and glad this week?
Sad, Death of Helen McCrory. She was just so so amazing! Such a huge loss.
Mad, People not wearing masks properly. How have we not got this by now!?
Glad, The fact that I still get to work during this crazy time when seemingly everything is out of sorts. I’m incredibly grateful for that.
Shadow and Bone is available on Netflix from Friday 23rd April 2021