Who Plays Mat in The Wheel of Time? Why was Barney Harris Recast in Season 2?

Image Credit: Jan Thijs/Prime Video

Prime Video’s high fantasy drama series, ‘The Wheel of Time,’ transports the audience to a world of magic where the forces of darkness are trying to take over the world. The show creates a sprawling universe with a rich history that plays into the present state of the characters. Its intricately woven mythology creates space for further exploration, allowing the characters to evolve as the events unfold. One of the main characters in the show is Mat Cauthon.

Hailing from Two Rivers, he is one of the five people whose lives are so intricately tied to each other that their actions impact the fate of all five. The first season leads Mat on a turbulent journey where he faces the darkness within himself. The character continues to have an engaging arc in the second season, but there is one difference. The actor playing Mat in the second season is different from the one in the first season. Why’s that? Let’s find out.

Why was Mat Recast in Season 2?

Image Credit: Jan Thijs/ Prime Video

The role of Mat Cauthon in the second season of ‘The Wheel of Time’ is played by Dònal Finn. This isn’t the first time Finn has been a part of a fantasy movie or TV show. He has previously appeared in minor roles in titles like ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,’ ‘The Witcher’ and ‘Cursed.’ In the first season, the role was played by Barney Harris, known for his work in ‘The Hollow Crown’ and ‘Clique.’ Reportedly, the actor left the show during the first season.

The reason behind Harris’ departure from the series is unconfirmed. The production of the show’s first season was shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic. By then, six episodes had been filmed. The actor did not come back when the production resumed. This could be due to scheduling conflicts that might have stopped Harris from dedicating more time to the show. Or, it could be due to some undisclosed personal issues. In any case, neither the actor nor the show’s creators have talked about the reasons behind his departure.

Talking about the recasting, ‘The Wheel of Time’ creator Rafe Judkins said: “[Recasting is] always hard, but we’re really lucky that Barney is so great in the first season; I love him in the show. And Dónal Finn, who is playing Mat in Season 2, is amazing. I think it’s a testament to this character and how great the character of Mat is that it really feels seamless between the two actors.”

Image Credit: Jan Thijs/Prime Video

While Harris has not opened up about why he left ‘The Wheel of Time,’ Finn has talked about how it felt to pick up the role in the second season. “Naturally, if I stopped and I thought about it, I could’ve dwelled on the challenges. But I think in the moment of saying ‘yes’ and stepping in, there was a sense of acting kind of mindlessly. It was such a whirlwind experience of kind of coming into the job that it allowed me to work really instinctually with the scenes that I was getting into,” he said.

Finn also reiterated Judkins and said that the character itself is so powerful and smartly written that the transition between the actors doesn’t factor in. To make things better, Finn received the full support of the cast and crew to help him slip into the role and bring it alive on the screen just as well as Harris had done. “They were so supportive, and I think they understood that we all must approach those scenes as a rehearsal for a play because, you know, so much of them are set in the same space, and we could kind of run them chronologically…and I think gave a great kind of basis, you know, for starting out,” he said. Considering how well Finn has picked up the role, the show’s creators have done a great job of recasting a part so integral to the story.

Read More: Who is Padan Fain in The Wheel of Time?