FEBRUARY 26, 2020

A small squad of gun-toting imperial fighters marches through a Vancouver soundstage. The light-up red eyes on their helmets shine through the pitch black and smoke of the hanger. It is the stuff of nightmares… or Altered Carbon season 2.

“These are Praetorians. They’re basically black-outfitted stormtroopers,” Melissa R. Stubbs later tells Refinery29. Stubbs is the stunt coordinator for the Netflix show’s sophomore year, which premieres Thursday, February 27. “They are the protectorate. They are these badass warriors who can’t be killed. So they’re coming after our team.”


Altered Carbon season 1, which debuted over two years ago in February 2018. Marvel breakout Anthony Mackie has taken over the central hero role of space-traversing supersoldier Takeshi Kovacs from Swedish beefcake/DC Comics actor Joel Kinnaman. Simone Missick — currently leading CBS’ All Rise — has joined the cast as Trepp, a bounty hunter on Harlan’s World, aka Kovacs’ controversial home planet. Kovacs’ eternal love interest Quellcrist Falconer, the Altered universe’s most fearsome freedom fighter, is still played by Hamilton alum Renée Elise Goldsberry.However, as the Altered Carbon season 2 trailer confirms, Quell, who died hundreds of years before before the events of the series, is no longer a memory — she’s a knife-wielding, very alive warrior. The question hanging question is, how?

After a June 2019 visit to the Netflix’s series set (carefully embargoed until the season premiere), we just might know the answer — along with a few other juicy behind the scenes secrets. Keep reading for the full lowdown on what to expect from Altered Carbon season 2’s new Quell, and much, much more.

Altered Carbon will play with gender more than ever 

The first season of Altered Carbon pushed the bounds of immortality — and race — to the very edge. As much internet chatter discussed, protagonist Kovacs is a biracial Asian and white man who was living in a white sleeve for most of season 1. Season 2 will once again question what identifiers like race mean in a future where consciousness (or, a “stack”) can be beamed into any body (or “sleeve”) — and add gender to the conversation.
“One of our leading men is sharing a sleeve with one of the woman sleeves,” stunt coordinator Melissa R. Stubbs teases to Refinery29. “So it’s actually the woman inside the sleeve of the male sleeve.”

“So it’s a male actor playing this role and he comes in, John Wick-style, as [director Salli Richardson-Whitfield] wanted, takes out 10 guards in a row,” Stubbs continues. “[The actor] had to think like a woman and take these people out like the female characters. So it was encompassing both male and female attributes of a human; the mind, heart, soul, the way they think, the way they would fight, and what are they fighting for — and how do they do it?”
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Fight scenes are making people emotional

“I got to be involved in a couple of big set pieces where it was just a lot of kinetic energy, a lot of just cool shit,” Will Yun Lee, who plays the original Takeshi Kovacs, says. Trailers confirm Lee will be jumping into the present season 2 storyline through a sci-fi twist.
Director Salli Richardson-Whitfield, who helmed the final two episodes of the 2020 season, is particularly excited for fans to get to one action scene hiding in her pair of chapters. “There is a particular fight scene at the end of this [season] that we really thought outside of the box and is completely different than anything they’ve done last season or this season,” Richardson-Whitfield says. “It’s something that me and the director of photography really thought about and pitched to the writers and they were like, Yeah!
Star Renée Elise Goldsberry, who plays leading lady Quellcrist Falconer, is dreading one specific fight scene — but probably not for the reason you think. “I’m actually sentimental about my last fight sequence coming up this week,” Goldsberry says. “I have one little fight sequence left with Anthony Mackie’s character and when it’s over, my body will be happy, but my heart will be like, Aw.”

Altered Carbon will be a love story

Although Altered Carbon season 2 promises to be filled with John Wick-ish “gun fu” and jaw-dropping displays of fisticuffs, the cast and crew want fans to know this story isn’t a simple action adventure — it’s a romance between star-crossed lovers/ultimate fighters Kovacs and Quell.