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Shadow And Bone's Freddy Carter Did Extra Research For His Role As Kaz

When it released in 2021, Netflix's "Shadow and Bone" achieved a significant feat: It spent its first 12 days after its April 23, 2021, release on the streaming service at the top of the Top 10 chart — a feat at that point achieved only by "Floor Is Lava" and "Ratched." As time passes, it seems more difficult to dominate the ratings on Netflix, so those 55 million viewers in the first 28 days likely helped the series secure a 2nd season.

One of the reasons that the eight-episode series has seen such success is Freddy Carter's turn as Kaz Brekker, the leader of the Crows. The character is a young and savvy leader who has turned his gang into a powerful force that drives the show's events. Kaz is a longtime favorite of Grishaverse fans, and his appearance in the Netflix series has not changed that. Fans and critics seem to like his characterization on-screen, too: MovieWeb, rating him the top character in the show, wrote, "Kaz Brekker is fearless, bold, and always 20 steps ahead at all times."

The characterization is a standout, in part because Carter did extra research that helped Kaz's character resonate with fans. Kaz has a disability, which causes him to walk with a cane. And he doesn't see the disability as a weakness; it's part of his legend. Kaz's attitude is a reflection of author Leigh Bardugo's real-life personality, and she wanted to see it on screen. This resulted in Carter doing some extra research to make sure this happened.

Author Leigh Bardugo helped Carter with his portrayal of Kaz's disability

Leigh Bardugo wrote both the Grishaverse books that inspired "Shadow and Bone" — "Shadow and Bone" itself focuses on Alina's (Jessie Mei Li) journey as the Sun Summoner, while "Six of Crows" tells the story of Kaz's Dregs, who don't actually meet up with Alina in the books. She and Kaz have a specific real-life connection.

This meant that although Bardugo was certainly available to other cast members as a reference, Freddy Carter felt a certain responsibility to represent the character in an authentic way. One of Kaz's physical idiosyncracies is that he walks with a cane — and, it turns out, so does Bardugo, as a result of osteonecrosis. It was important to the author that Kaz's injury be represented well. "I think we had a really useful conversation where she spoke about how she saw people on screen with canes and it was always the villain," Carter told Seventeen. "It was always the sort of Bond villain twirling them around. But Kaz is not a villain. He may be an antihero, but he's definitely not a villain. She really wanted that to come across."

Kaz isn't ashamed of his injury, nor does he see it as a weakness. Instead, Carter noted, his disability made him stronger. The actor said, "It added to the myth around him that people whispered about in Ketterdam. It's something that he's incredibly proud of and would never shy away from. It doesn't stop him [from] doing anything. He fully embraces it about himself." 

In Season 2, fans will get to see the backstory Carter drew upon when forming the character

Freddy Carter was a fan of Kaz before he got the role. The actor said he started getting hooked on the character about three sentences into "Six of Crows" — although he probably means the second chapter of the book, in which Kaz is described in the first paragraph as having the nickname "Dirtyhands," someone who didn't need a reason or permission to basically make big changes that affect other people's lives.

Carter said, "The thing that I love about him is when he's two steps ahead of everyone else and you think he isn't. What (creator and showrunner) Eric Heisserer and his writing team have done really well is captured that side of him. It makes you go, 'Why is he doing that? That's not going to work.' And then he's always got an ace up his sleeve. Which I would love to be like that. I'm always two steps behind everyone."

The second season will see a more in-depth exploration of Kaz's character, according to Nerds and Beyond. Carter told the media outlet that this is exciting, as the new episodes will look more closely at the source material — namely, "Six of Crows," which makes up the backstory for Kaz and is familiar to him. "That's really only the first half of the season for him, it's a [multi]-episode arc to get this revenge and seek redemption from 'someone,'" he said. Once he gets it, though, Kaz may end up finding out that it's not what he needs, and he may need to find closure elsewhere. 

Fans will get to find out what that looks like when season 2 of "Shadow and Bone" starts airing on Netflix this March 16.