When Shadow and Bone hit Netflix on April 23, viewers were plunged into a totally unique fantasy world. By remixing the classic "chosen one" trope and building an intricate, epic universe, the show made for a thrilling viewing experience from beginning to end. If you're already crossing your fingers for a Season 2, you'll definitely enjoy these Shadow and Bone behind-the-scenes facts while you wait.
Based on author Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse novels, Shadow and Bone unfolds in a world torn in half by a monstrous, unnatural entity known as the Shadow Fold. When a young orphan named Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) discovers she's a Grisha with the magical, powerful ability to summon light, her newfound powers may hold the key to destroying the Fold. But plenty of people want to use her powers for their own gains, and as Alina comes into her own, the story takes fans into more and more thrilling new corners of the Shadow and Bone world.
There's plenty of exciting world-building to follow onscreen, but when it comes to TV shows, learning about little-known offscreen details can make your rewatches even more satisfying. Here are some behind-the-scenes facts that may surprise even the most hardcore Shadow and Bone fan:
1. Bardugo has a cameo in Season 1, Episode 3.
Right after Alina demonstrates her Sun-Summoning powers to the Ravkan royal family, the first Grisha to embrace her is played by none other than Shadow and Bone author Leigh Bardugo. According Netflix, she chose to wear a purple Fabrikator kefta for the scene.
2. The actors were trained in a Russian style of martial arts.
The Grishaverse was inspired by Russian mythology, so it only makes sense that the cast looked to Russian tradition while working on their own stunts. According to Netflix, all of the actors were primarily trained in a Russian martial arts style called Systema.
3. Amita Suman got a scar while filming Season 1.
The actor got a permanent Shadow and Bone souvenir while filming an action-packed scene as Inej. "I actually do have a scar, it's my first Inej scar. This one was from a belt actually," she told Cosmopolitan UK. "In one of the episodes, there's a fight scene and we had this double there on the day and she was so incredible, but I was surprised to see that in the cut it was actually all me."
4. Shadow and Bone's fictional languages were created by the same person who created languages for Game of Thrones.
Shadow and Bone is full of magical countries with their own distinct languages, and the show relied on a Hollywood language expert to bring them to life. David J. Peterson was responsible for creating Shadow and Bone's languages, and he's also behind the fictional language in Thor: The Dark World, as well as Dothraki and Valyrian in Game of Thrones.
5. The show was filmed in Budapest, Hungary.
Although Shadow and Bone takes place in a fantasy world, the show avoided relying too heavily on special effects by taking advantage of the beautiful scenery in and around Budapest. "The [Grishas'] Little Palace is a building that we drove a few hours outside of Budapest [to get to]," Ben Barnes (who plays General Kirigan) told Cosmopolitan UK. "To be able to film in these extraordinary buildings, you don't feel like you're playing at something. You feel like you're recreating something."
6. The cast took things from set.
Shadow and Bone is filled with gorgeous costumes and intricate fantasy set pieces, so it's only natural the cast wanted to take some of it home with them. "I kept my cane and my gloves, and when they were in my suitcase ready to go I sent an email like 'This is alright, isn't it?' But the damage was already done," Freddy Carter (who plays Kaz Brekker) told Cosmopolitan UK. Kit Young, on the other hand, took four of the guns he used while playing Jesper.
7. Li wasn't a big fan of Alina's stag antlers.
In Episodes 7 and 8, Kirigan (aka the Darkling) forces Alina to wear a stag antlers amplifier so he can wield her power for his own purposes. In the original Shadow and Bone novel, the amplifier was more of a necklace, but in the show, the antlers are grotesquely embedded in Alina's collarbone. While Li told Digital Spy the change was made to show how invasive Kirigan's betrayal was, wearing the amplifier prosthetic wasn't the most comfortable for them.
"It was so itchy! I was always accidentally picking it," Li said. "I can't be trusted with a prosthetic. But makeup gave me [it] as a gift... so it's mounted on the wall! It looks so disgusting."
8. The stunt team behind Marvel's Doctor Strange helped Li train.
In addition to learning Systema alongside the rest of the cast, Li worked with the stunt team from Doctor Strange to choreograph the special moves Alina deployed while using her powers. "There's something a little wild about [her movements]," Li told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's something that possibly, going forward, she will tame and refine."
9. Ketterdam is filled with Easter eggs.
While the entire show is filled with easter eggs longtime fans of the series will appreciate, the Crows' home city of Ketterdam in particular is filled with clever details. For instance, Suman tells Elite Daily the bottles in the Crow Club had customized labels from different Grishaverse countries, from Ravka to Shu Han.
10. Suman and Bardugo came up with a signature scent for Inej.
When Bardugo visited set to answer any questions the cast had about their characters, she helped Suman get into character in a special way. "[Leigh] and I had a really lovely discussion about finding a scent for Inej. Because in the book she didn't have a scent, but I wanted to find a smell that reminded me of where she had come from," Suman tells Elite Daily. "You know, the smell of the house that she lived in, what her parents might like, and the aroma of the cooking she grew up with. And every time I came on set, I sprayed it, and the smell took me back to her birthplace. I'm not going to say what it is, but it was lovely."
11. Each kefta's embroidery holds significance.
Each order of Grisha has a specific kefta color, and each kefta's embroidery denotes a Grisha's designation within that order. But as costume designer Wendy Partridge told Netflix, many characters' keftas also had special meanings: The knife-inspired embroidery on Kirigan's kefta represents his ability to perform "the Cut;" Alina has sunblast embroidery reflective of her Sun-Summoning powers; and battle keftas have a thorn pattern referencing Bardugo's books The Language of Thorns and King of Scars.
12. The goats caused chaos on set.
Milo the goat was one of the biggest scene-stealers of Season 1, but bringing him to life wasn't always easy. "In one scene, we [used] two goats. They [had Hungarian names], which in English mean 'running" and "jumping,'" Suman tells Elite Daily. "One of the goats was just pooping everywhere, and the other one was screaming, because in the scene we had fire, we had monsters, and the noise of the train. It definitely drove us crazy at times, but they were so adorable."
13. The volcra were inspired by classic monsters.
According to Netflix, the volcra were visually inspired by demons and gargoyles and were designed by VFX supervisor Ted Rae, who won multiple Emmys for his previous work on Game of Thrones.
14. Inej's knives were sized down to fit onto Suman's costume.
Inej wears a whopping 14 knives on her body at all times, and Partridge had to get creative to fit them all onto Suman's costume. "I was questioning how they were all going to fit, but [Wendy] did something really clever by sizing down all of the knives on me, so it doesn't look small, but [it would] if Freddy or Kit were holding it with their big hands," Suman tells Elite Daily. "[The knives] didn't get in the way once."
15. Partridge designed an all-white version of Alina's First Army uniform.
Alina's entire body glows with light when she uses her powers to save Mal in Episode 1, but creating that effect was a challenge from a special effects standpoint. So, Partridge designed an all-white version of Alina's First Army uniform to help the VFX team make the moment look as realistic as possible.
16. Several iconic film characters influenced Young's portrayal of Jesper.
While preparing to portray quippy sharpshooter Jesper Fahey, Young took cues from beloved onscreen characters including Dirty Harry, Deadpool, and Pirates of the Caribbean's Jack Sparrow.
17. The cast became super close during filming.
The cast became tight-knight while making the show in Hungary. As they told Netflix, their time off from filming consisted of plenty of dinners and plenty of time spent watching The Great British Bake Off together. "Working [on the show] was amazing," Li tells Elite Daily. "We are all such good friends."