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Danielle Galligan teases "hard" Nina, Matthias romance in "Six of Crows"

The relationship between Nina Zenik and Matthias Helvar has been rather complicated throughout Shadow and Bones two seasons, but Danielle Galligan has told Newsweek she knows how she wants their relationship to be approached in a possible way Six of Crows spin off.

Season 1 of the Netflix show saw Nina get kidnapped by Fjerdan drüskelle, hunters who put Grisha on trial for witchcraft in their home country. Matthias (Calahan Skogman) was one of these drüskelle, but after a storm sank the ship and they were the only ones left alive the pair were forced to work together in order to survive.

Despite being taught to hate one another, Nina and Matthias were able to see each other’s humanity and eventually fell in love. However, when Matthias was at risk of being killed by Nina’s fellow Grisha she acts fast and claims he’s a slaver meaning, he will be sent to Hellgate prison.

Matthias sees this as the ultimate betrayal, and when he begins his sentence in Shadow and Bone Season 2 he struggles with his feelings about Nina. The heartbreaker, for her part, spends the season trying desperately to find a way to get him out.

Galligan shared how she hopes an adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology will approach the relationship between the couple, and told Newsweek that it won’t be easy for Nina and Matthias to find their way back to each other.

“It might sound weird but I want there to be the anger there,” Galligan told Newsweek. “I always feel as an actor, because sometimes life is the same, I always try and make it as hard as possible for your character at any given moment.

“Make the fight as hard as possible so that the end is as sweet as possible and the arc is stretched, you find light and dark in things like that so, in a weird way, I’m kind of going ‘let’s really go there ,’ Let’s feel the hatred and dig into that and see.”

She added: “There is the betrayal of a lover, I think that’s one of the worst, or one of the worst, feelings anyone can feel, and I’m sure it’s something that the majority of people have felt, so I definitely don ‘t want to skirt around that because that’s a real thing that we need to show.

“I love playing with the complexity, and I think what’s so good about Leigh’s characters is they’re all so flawed and there’s the different colors, the light and dark. That was what was great in Season 1, the enemies-to-lovers [romance]so I loved playing with that because I think as humans we’re also conflicted all the time, depending on internal and external stimulus, so it feels very real and very true.

“This is just me and my taste, [but] I don’t like when things are just tied up in a bow. I like the way that’s left in Season 2, that there’s real work to be done and if they’re going to find their way back to each other they’re gonna have to really work hard at that because then you know the destination has been earned and is also true and authentic.”

“Because if we’re all in love by episode three or something it just… I don’t know, I’m more here for the journey,” Galligan added. “Where they’re going I think is really beautiful, and where they got at the end of Season 1 was really beautiful, so I’m ready for that fight if we can do it.”

Galligan said she “loved” being able to join the other members of the Crows in Shadow and Bone Season 2. The crew is led by Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), and it includes Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman) Jesper Fahey (Kit Young), Wylan Van Eck (whose surname is Hendricks in the show, played by Jack Wolfe), Nina and Matthias in the books.

Nina joins Kaz, Inej, Jesper and Wylan during the events of Season 2 so that she can find a way to get Matthias out of Hellgate. It also meant that Galligan finally joined her other cast members for scenes, when in Season 1 she worked mainly with Skogman.

“Initially I really just loved it, I was nervous, obviously, because myself and Calahan had built such a strong rapport and as an actor I was nervous because we had such trust and I felt so safe to try new things [with him]but ultimately I really did want to fight for her on her own as well,” the actor said as she reflected on Season 2.

“I think that this season, for her, is just about guilt, and I think that as an Irish woman we always have a joke about carrying around Catholic guilt so that was something that I definitely could access quite easily.

“I remember reading this quote about guilt growing like a rust, so I really tried to play that as feeling, that in her body it was this rusting thing that was kind of coming over her skin, so every time she got further and further away something more would grow and she would harden a little bit more.”

She went on: “I loved playing with that and creating different images for that in my brain, and what I love ultimately about her so much is that she’s so proactive with her pain […] what is so amazing about Nina and what I’ve learned from her is that she’s so proactive in her approach, she doesn’t just lie down and take it. She goes ‘OK, he’s there, this is an impossible task how do I make the impossible possible?’ and she goes.

“I just love it, I admire so much about her, that when in the face of fear she doesn’t flinch backwards she flinches forwards into action.”

The hardest but most fulfilling scene for Galligan, though what was a moment between her and Skogman, a fleeting look shared between their characters that had to convey so much more in Season 2.

“I definitely think the scenes with Calahan, not scenes necessarily but there’s that moment when he looks at her the first time she makes it to Hellgate and it’s written into the script as a look,” the actor said.

“We were so worried about it because we had no screen time together and there was so much history, and betrayal, and feeling to be portrayed and conveyed to the audience in a second so we were really scared and nervous about that.

The relationship between Nina Zenik and Matthias Helvar has been rather complicated throughout Shadow and Bones two seasons, but Danielle Galligan has told Newsweek she knows how she wants their relationship to be approached in a possible way Six of Crows spin off.

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