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On Friday, September 7, the second season of Netflix’s Iron Fist will premiere to a host of skeptical fans. The good news: it won’t be hard to live up to the not-so-binge-worthy first season. Let’s be real, the inaugural season of Iron Fist was, well, not great. Compared to Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones (which all averaged an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Jessica Jones raking in a Peabody award in 2015), the show proved to be the weakest of the crop, earning a measly RT score of 19% and a bunch of hate from fans. The biggest gripe came at the expense of the lackluster, choppy fight scenes—one of which featured a baffling 56 camera cuts in 35 seconds. For a show with deep roots in the world of kung fu, this was a real Mantis kick to the gonads.
The actual good news: This season seems to boast a bunch of new badass fight scenes. (Check out the video below to see what we mean.) You can thank expert fight choreographer Clayton Barber (Black Panther and Creed), who was brought on to breathe new life into the action sequences. Also, the actors were given more time to prep compared to the 10-15 minutes that they had to learn the scenes beforehand. To learn more, M&F sat down with leading man Finn Jones, aka Danny Rand, aka the Iron Fist, to discuss his prep, the power of meditation, and his newfound love for discipline.
M&F: What was the biggest positive change that you guys made leading into season two of Iron Fist?
FINN JONES: The only difference is that this season I have time. They [Netflix] provided the situations for me to thrive. Last season I didn’t have as much time before we started shooting. But anyways, that’s last season, we don’t want to speak about that because this season is much different.
Four to five months ahead of schedule, I started working with various different people. I worked with a personal trainer, training with her three to four times a week. We approached weight training from a gymnastic point of view—what that means is I’m using my own body weight to become strong. What I didn’t want to do is put on muscle, because A) that’s not the aesthetic of the character and B) that would make you be tight, and to be a martial artist you need to be flexible. So through using gymnastic-style training, I was able to stay lean and add muscle but also be physically flexible.
What about in terms of honing your fight skills?
I worked with a guy, Shi Foo Ming, who runs a dojo down on the lower east side. He’s an ex-Shaolin Monk, and I’d work with him multiple times a week on traditional Kung Fu and tai chi and we also mixed in the more metaphysical and spiritual ethics of martial arts, which was really cool. I’d also go to a place for daily meditation.
Yeah, why not? It’s fucking awesome. I went to a place called MNDFL, which they have several in New York City. It’s a wonderful, amazing space, and I would go there daily to practice meditation. It allowed me to handle the stresses of a television schedule.
How’d you eat to fuel all of your training?
I cut out all unhealthy foods like sugar, salt, and unhealthy carbohydrates. All I was eating was like warm chicken, sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, quinoa, and brown rice. That was my diet for 10 months. It was very boring. I also didn’t drink for 10 months, which was really interesting and really beneficial—I loved it. I actually can’t wait to get back into training so I can stop drinking, not that I have an issue but it’s more about being disciplined.
Was it more difficult to be social while sticking to such a strict regimen?
It’s really hard—that’s an interesting point you hit on. How do you have a social life and not drink? I love to go out and listen to music and dance. What I’ve learned is that I love to go out now and not allow the alcohol to be the crutch and to rely on being present instead—meditation helped with that.
What’s a piece of training gear you can’t live without?
My Bose SoundSport Free headphones and a tennis ball—it’s great for loosing up your glutes and back.
You played Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones. Which universe draws a more intense fan base—Marvel or GoT?
I think the comic book fans are definitely more passionate—they pay attention to details for sure. It’s all love, though. I go to a lot of Comic Cons and that’s where the true fans are. Online is it’s just a bunch of ones and zeros. I love going to those things because I get to really meet the people. And I love the fans and having an open dialogue with them.
If you could have a drink with any character from The Defenders, who would it be?
My boy, Luke Cage. I’d like to have a Mezcal with him. I like a good mescal, but I’m going to have to give it up soon. I have like one more month, and then I start training again.