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PostSubject: Actor interviews   Sun Apr 03, 2011 2:46 am

http://eclipsemagazine.com/hollywood-insider/23517/

Camelot’s Creator, Merlin and Guinevere Talk About The Challenges of Bringing a Legend to TV!

Posted by Sheldon A. Wiebe on March 31, 2011 · View Comments

The success of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and Spartacus: Gods of the Arena have given Starz its highest profile ever. Now, the network is returning to that mix of history and legend with its new series, Camelot [Fridays, 10-9C] – a stripped down take on the Arthurian legend.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to take part in a conference call with series creator Chris Chibnall and stars Joseph Fiennes and Tamsin Egerton who play, respectively, Merlin and Guinevere. Much of the discussion centered on the challenges of taking such a well known legend – and such archetypal characters – and making them fresh. Note: Our interviewees were on long distance [as in across the pond], so there were some occasional reception problems…

Hi guys. Thanks for doing the call. And I’m enjoying the show so far what I’ve seen.

My question is for everybody in turn I guess. For Joseph and Tamsin I was wondering how you approached doing a – these iconic characters that, you know, literary characters and to give them like a fresh spin and with Chris sort of just the same question but about the entire legend if you could talk a little bit about that.

Tamsin Egerton: Okay I’m going to ask Joe to go first.

Chris Chibnall: Nicely done (Tamsy).

Joseph Fiennes: I was going to ask you to go first. Oh but anyways right, I am okay. How did – how do we tackle this? I guess I kind of read as much as I could but really was speaking to Chris Chibnall and asking all the sort of pertinent questions and make me feel like we weren’t going to do an off the peg kind of Camelot which has been done or at least themes of Camelot or at least characters in Camelot have been touched upon in many films and TV series before.

So it was really to pick his brains. And in doing so I got fired up by I felt that tackling Merlin in a fresher angle. I guess use is predominant factor that we were seeing a young King Arthur and thereby a young-ish really, I’m into my 40s. Actually I guess this is being recorded, (damn) and…

((Crosstalk))

Fiennes: …Merlin. And so it was sort of how to kind of tackle it from that point view. And also I wanted to have fun with it. I wanted joy to be the guide with Merlin.

I wanted to have the scope which I felt Merlin kind of has in his Machiavellian bipolar way that he’s not to be trusted yet he is fighting for this great speed of power and is really sort of the publicly a master to some degree in orchestrating Camelot and King Arthur. So he’s a strange, dark devious character and I just wanted to have fun and get away from the cloak and the staff and long, long beard and the pointy hat.

And we I think through Chris who came to the idea that he was more warrior monk that is coming to terms with his sort of – his power and how they can affect him and others. Done, sorry, long-winded.

Egerton: Well I suppose again I mean not to sound like a broken record but it was mostly talking to Chris Chibnall and seeing what he had in mind for the character.

I mean Guinevere been done quite a few times and especially as a mature, you know, young woman who either the damsel in distress or the warrior, the warrior fighting your strong-willed woman. And so I was talking to Chris and he kind of wanted both of us in a way. He wanted a variety of things in this Guinevere.

He predominately wanted her to be real and natural and make mistakes and be passionate and, you know, be the feisty young girl but then also, you know, completely naive and innocent and ignorant at the same time.

So it was yes, fantastic as an actress to be able to tell their thing and also quite confusing at times. But so that really hits me. I mean I felt I wanted to make her fashion and not take away, you know, whatever actions are done before. Because I think if you steal other people’s characters it doesn’t work with the context of the scripts in what is written.

And so I wanted to make her my own. And, you know, I was petrified in the beginning because it was such an iconic character Guinevere especially being a young lady myself. I’ve always wanted to play her. So I mean I remember being on the set constantly asking questions if she really did actually want me to be Guinevere and (after) you know, say yes, yes, you know, we’ve cast you know.

And yes so I very much have (unintelligible) but asked of Chris what he thought and he kind of steered me in the right directions. And yes we just wanted to make her fashion and young and be able to make mistakes which I think is important.

Chibnall: Oh they said everything. Now it’s – that’s very good. Yes I think things – both Joe and (Tamsy) were touching upon that I think.

First of all had to approach it and in the sense of take nothing for granted, you know. There have been so many different versions of the legend and of Camelot.

So what I wanted to do is strip it all back and sort of go back to the beginning and tell the story of Arthur from the beginning of the relationship between Merlin and Arthur from its very first meeting and also then really that where Tamsin just used of trying to make it feel real and basically looking at, going back to the source material of Mallory’s more darker which is kind of the most complete version of the myth in many ways and going well here are the events and here are the stories that we know. But what might it have been like if you lived through them?

If you kind of take it for granted that this – all this stuff happened, how would it be to be Arthur and be 19 and just be, you know, quite happy and comfortable in your life and then this mad shaven-headed man turns up at your house and says oh you’re adopted and by the way you’re the king, you know, and come with me halfway across the country. We got to sort out some war lords, really looking for the emotional truth in everything. And that’s the way I kind of approached it. And from then on you just start to ask questions. You don’t want to go with the received images.

So the conversations that Joe and I had were absolutely not going for the kind of stalk and received way of betraying Merlin but more about asking what does he want? Why is he so keen for Arthur to get to the throne? What is he seeing and then taking that for example into the (mantic) and going what will it be like to have those powers because nothing really in like comes without a cost and nothing comes without consequences.

So I think the big thing was making sure that the show was full of character, full of emotion and also that every decision and every action had costs and consequences and then it could start to feel emotionally resident to now. So that was the big thing and also to have fun as well as Joe said at the beginning. You know, we had to have a laugh doing it.

All right, great. And I talked to Philip Winchester the other day. He said that off camera in that one filming you guys spent a lot of time searching for the perfect pint of Guinness. Anyone care to comment on that one?

Egerton: Yes we did a lot of that.

Chibnall: How did you do on that Tamsin?

Egerton: Sorry?

Chibnall: How did you do on your search for the perfect pint of Guinness?

Egerton: I think (Adron Hughes) on Merrion Row is close up there for the perfect pint of Guinness. And I – yes, I had a few. I wasn’t too bad, but the lads brought me out so I became one of the lads apparently according to the knights.

Camelot 2011

Chibnall: (Unintelligible) say I will say that the producers put me in a house opposite a pub for the time I was in Ireland which did serve as fantastic…

Egerton: I don’t think you cannot be opposite a pub in Dublin isn’t…

Chibnall: So, you know, and all the time I’d be saying to Joe you – come on because we didn’t live far away from each other. I’d be saying well we’ll just have a pint of Guinness. And he was very controlled because of the – you know, because actually the amount of wake up at every Dublin…

Fiennes: It’s 5 o’clock in the morning quite…

((Crosstalk))

Fiennes: I’ve learned my lesson by this age.

Egerton: Yes. Well actually I had to a scene where I was in the Irish Sea at 6:00 in the morning. And the night before I made sure I had a couple of Guinnesses and some pasta because I wanted the calories to burn off the next day because I just knew it was going to be a life saver. So that was my excuse.

Chris, they say no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. So I would imagine martialing an army of TV personnel would be very similar. What things have surprised you as Camelot has developed, you know, going from concept to actual production with this miracle cast in these iconic roles?

Chibnall: Oh that’s a really good question. That’s oh, what has surprised me? I think the moment – I mean I think you’re right, you know, in terms of this – did you say miracle cast because I think that’s absolutely right. I think what surprised me was and what kind of delighted me was the level of cast we managed to bring in and to get to commit to the show.

And then I think once you’ve got actors of this caliber in place and, you know, I would say that even if two of them weren’t on the phone line, but actually what you do is it – it’s the joy of a series is it becomes a dialogue. So, you know, you’re putting stuff down and then you’re seeing, you’re discussing it in rehearsal but then you’re also seeing what comes through in the dailies in the rushes. And you’re molding and shaping the characters as you go along. And it becomes a response to what’s on screen.

So I think the characters take very interesting developments and you refine them and they take interesting turns because you see a little emphasis in a performance in a particular scene and you think oh there’s a whole facet and a whole emotional storyline there I want to follow. So that was probably the biggest thing. And that was the delight of it to be honest.

Great. Joseph and Tamsin, you’ve spoken about how you prepared for playing these iconic roles. What do you like most and least about your characters and why? And if anything, what has surprised you about them as they’ve been developed?

Egerton: Oh.

Fiennes: You’re very, very faint but I think you’re saying oh, what was it like to – what was it I like about the I iconic role? Is that what you said? I’m so sorry I’m so – I can barely hear you.

Yes, what do you like most and least about your character not necessarily as an iconic character but as it’s being presented in this series?

Fiennes: Well, I see. What do I like and dislike about Merlin as he’s being presented? Well I like the fact that and you said not necessarily as an icon but we’re stripping the icons away.

And we are – they’re sort of the Wikipedia I guess – not Wikipedia, WikiLeaks forgive me. We’re the sort of WikiLeaks for the age that we’re revealing with the transparency the characters. We’re unearthing the sort of the truth beyond the myth or underneath the myth. And I love that aspect. And Merlin is really at the forefront in that regard. We get a glimpse into the sort of the dark Machiavellian corridors of power.

I like the fact that he, although that he has powers, his powers is almost in his political guile as much as what he relies on in the – in darker forces.

I guess there’s nothing I don’t like about Merlin in the presentation if I’m interpreting your question correctly and forgive me if I’m not. But there’s – I love everything, even the things I find despicable and abhorrent in Merlin. Actually they’re a joy to ride on the tailcoats of.

And Tamsin?

Egerton: Well I love the fact that she’s young and feisty and passionate and so naive in the beginning. And I love that quality about her.

But I – what I don’t like about Guinevere is the fact that she can’t control her passions and her urges. And she gets herself into quite a love triangle and quite a web. And I find – I mean personally I would – I find that very difficult to relate to. But yes, it wouldn’t be interesting if she did everything right. And that’s what’s (interesting) about this series is, you know, we’re real characters making mistakes and having to deal with the consequences.

And, you know, she is, she’s young, she’s naive. She’s whole-heartedly going into her passions in everything that she feels in the series. I think she’s so used to having her life mapped out in front of her and it’s – and as growing up knowing her future and suddenly this young person comes along who’s like her and actually, you know, turns her life upside down and says I don’t know what I’m doing. Do you know what you’re doing because actually the world is, you know, our oyster and we could, you know, we can do anything.

And he happens also to be very good-looking. And Guinevere’s just, you know, head over heels and doesn’t know how to handle these new emotions she’s feeling as a young woman and unfortunately can’t reign it all in all the time. And even though she tries to do the right thing and tries to be the good girlfriend and, you know, has her morals. She slips. She slips up a little bit.

But it’s interesting as an actress that as – personally I find that – if that is your question, you know, that’s something I wouldn’t – I’m worried that audience again start judging me personally rather than Guinevere. But that’s fine. You know, it’s, you know, and mistakes happen so yes.

Tamsin in what way would Guinevere betray Arthur? And what is it like for you to play this role as a seducer?

Egerton: Oh sorry, can I hear that question again?

In what way will (Jenniver) – Guinevere sorry, betray Arthur? And what is it like for you to play this – to play the role of the seducer?

Egerton: Who – that – who – is that – who’s that to?

For you, I’m sorry.

Chibnall: That’s for you Tamsin. You can’t get out of this one.

Egerton: Really. Sorry I thought – is it – did you say – sorry. I can hardly hear. Did you say what’s it like to be the producer?

Chibnall: No seducer.

Camelot 2011

What is it like for you to play the role as a seducer?

Egerton: Oh I clearly thought that was…

((Crosstalk))

Chibnall: That’s right because we want you to play the executive producer.

Egerton: I was like surely this is not my question. Well can I say how she portrays Arthur? I don’t know. I don’t think we’ve got that far yet actually in this season. I mean we’re taking baby steps. There’s so much. It’s such an epic story and there’s so many twists and turns just that – that we’re – I mean this season only covers a very, very small amount of the story. So for now she hasn’t betrayed Arthur yet. That’s not to say she won’t but she hasn’t yet.

What it’s like to play a seducer? It’s interesting. It’s – I’m not – if Guinevere is not the Morgan type where she’s, you know, she’s sultry and she knows she has this incredible female energy that she can use and utilize. And she’s not necessarily used to have this power over men. She’s not necessarily – hasn’t necessarily been aware of it before. Though I think she’s innocent. She’s an innocent seductress.

And so it’s quite – it’s very interesting to play with that and go into these scenes where it’s very passionate on the page and just going – throwing Guinevere straight into it and also having, you know, being the actress you know what’s going to come and it’s – kind of you wince because you know what’s happening at the – you know, at the end of the episode.

So it’s been very fun playing a different side of it. I think a – yes, a seductress is a very interesting term cause I think people always think of them as these – as a victim. But Guinevere isn’t. I mean she’s very much just a young girl who’s learning her heart and that means listening to herself and actually what she wants for once. But unfortunately the consequences of that are a lot higher than they would be nowadays for a normal 19-year-old especially she falls in love with a king. I mean that makes it a little bit more complicated as well.

But not, it’s very fun. It’s been wonderful. It’s – you know, the complexities of it has been quite interesting in a love triangle in particular and seeing how she handles each situation and each man. She’s a very different person with each man. She’s very much under Leontes’ wing as it – well I suppose. And she’s – he’s – she’s his childhood sweetheart. He’s her childhood sweetheart. And in a way that sort of big – that big older brotherly love.

But with Arthur it’s – she’s a completely different person. She’s not there to cook dinner and to be, you know, the – maternal. She’s actually there to have fun and have a more sexual relationship. So it’s very interesting. And I hope that answers your question. I think I went off on a meander a little bit. I’m sorry.

That’s fine. And for Tamsin and Joe, what attracted you to the role originally? And can you talk a little bit about your preparation and what were some of your setbacks or you – and your experiences?

Fiennes: I think Mr. (Tiber) was to blame for a lot of the attraction as well as an iconic character that has definitely inspired I think the characters like Gandalf or Dumbledore or Obi-Wan Kenobi and how to do it in a completely different way without too many long beards and pointy hats. And the challenge is sort of finding the sort of modern conduit for the audience and having fun and really looking at the duality of this particular character that is sort of both devil and angel that on the cusp of losing control of the pagan background to this newfangled religion called Christianity.

So there’s a great sort of backdrop there. And just there’s a whole sort of dark side and the magic and he’s sort of slightly from another world and place Merlin. So how do you tackle all of that? So it’s sort of having fun and presenting it in a new – in a new way. Maybe he’s a bit more (sluggish) in the sort of the corridors of power. He’s more of a politician, slightly Machiavellian.

And but also there’s a lovely relationship as sort of slightly kind of wrinkle Charlie/Willie Wonka relationship going on between Merlin and Arthur. So there’s so much to be had really.

Tamsin?

Egerton: Well for me I’m – I – it was again, trying to keep her fresh and young and likeable for an audience. I mean the things she – the mistakes she makes it’s very easy to judge her. And so my challenge was to keep the audience on her side and just in a way understand where she’s coming from and try and feel sorry for her and still like her at the same time even though, you know, your shout at (town) or shout at the tele to, you know, for her to stop doing, you know, making the same mistakes again and again.

But also the physical preparation was learning to horse ride, that was a big part of it and doing some sword fighting and just trying to make her a bit more base. I mean it’s quite a basic way of living back then. And I just wanted to make her more earthy and quite a strong character. I didn’t want her to just sit in the corner reading and twittling her hair. I wanted her to be, you know, I mean this is about Chris Chibnall as well. This is very much his thoughts.

And we wanted to make her an instant character, you know, with different sides. And so yes, physically I did a lot of work and immensely I just chatted to Chris. And, you know, I mean it’s hard doing…

Chibnall: It’s also a little work.

Egerton: Yes, it’s hard doing a series when – because you’re finding the character yourself. And I think you can tell. I know I can when I watched some of the episodes. And in order I can see how I’ve grown into that role. And I can see how Guinevere’s grown up. And it’s very interesting dealing with that each – in each episode and also dealing with the – not only the overall story but also what happens in that one hour.

So it was – you know, the preparation as well was (certainly) to keep myself and my character growing in the right time and in the right places and showing each new thought. And I think yes, I think that’s was all my challenges and that’s how I – yes – stop talking Tamsin.

Chris, if I may, all the epics and classics are being transformed into stronger and more unpredictable stories. How different is Camelot from the original story and what changes have you made to suit the 21st Century audience?

Chibnall: Well there’s so many different versions of the myth. You know, there really isn’t that one definitive version of the story. And that’s the kind of joy of myth in a way is it’s re-invented every, you know, generation to kind of – to resonate with the concerns of that particular generation of people. So the thing that I kind of focused on really was making sure that everything we did and every decision we made was emotionally motivated.

So what I did was, you know, with these first ten you’re talking about the foundations of Camelot. You’re talking about how are Arthur and Merlin, everyone bring in all the components that they’re going to need. So really it was a question of I think for me what was interesting and what made it relevant was like well how on earth do you become a ruler and how do you, you know, what do you promise as a ruler? And if you’re a leader and you’re out there promising hope, how do you then deliver on that promise? How do you bring something as abstract as hope into existence and deliver it for people?

So it’s not hard to find modern resonances and relevancies. It’s really – it’s all there in the great material. But you just choose what to emphasize. And for me it was about making kind of credible characters that you could relate to that didn’t feel like they were behind a guise which sometimes you get (into) your drama if it’s slightly removed from modern life.

I wanted it to feel very immediate and very fresh and very dynamic. And then, you know, I think, I guess in terms of the narrative, the sort of the big decision really was ensuring – well I mean every decision tweaks it to be honest making Merlin a very clear king maker and more of a spin doctor than an out and out, you know, as Joe said we ditched the pointy hat and the cloak and the staff and the beard in our very first discussion, you know. And so Merlin is much more of a Donald Rumsfeld Karl Rove type character which changes the emphasis of things immediately.

But I think the story in this first then of the parallels between Merlin – between Arthur sorry, and Morgan really it’s a tale of two houses, you know, a brother and a half sister who both want the crown, both have equal legitimacy to it and how they go about trying to get it. You know, that was where we found the emphasis for this first batch.

Camelot 2011; Episode 101

I know that, you know, this station is really known for doing more realistic portrayals, you know, really showing the sex and the violence and all that which is frankly refreshing. So I’m curious how far do you go and does it free you as a writer and does it free you as actors?

Chibnall: Shall I jump in first? I think…

Fiennes: I can’t quite hear. It’s so distant to me. I’m so sorry. I couldn’t hear the question. Chris, could you tell me the question?

I’ll say it again. I’m just – I really like the way that this particular channel produces things and go – they go a lot further with reality with the sex and the violence and all that. And it’s refreshing. And I’m just wondering how that frees you as a writer and how that frees you as actors?

Chibnall: I’ll jump into this (right) before. You all talked about being actors and having sex on set. I think as a writer what’s great and what’s key to Camelot is it’s a story about passion in both the personal and the political. So, you know, the political aims are brought down by personal passions all the way through the myth. And what’s great is we’re able to show that.

And, you know, you don’t ever want to be or I don’t ever want to be gratuitous for the sake of being gratuities but when it serves the stories and serves the characters it’s nice to be able to do that, you know, realistically and with credibility. And so you don’t want to do it for the sake of it. And you don’t want to shoehorn it in. But it’s a great – it’s another, you know, good tool to have in the toolbox he says worried about his metaphors.

Fiennes: You nailed that Chris.

Chibnall: Thank you.

What about the two of you as actors. Does it change the way you deal with things?

Egerton: For me yes and no. I think yes to the extent that it’s all about the writing. If the writing is allowed to breathe and to be, you know, more realistic and you can up the ante a bit more then that’s fantastic as an actress because obviously you’re going off what is written. So to that extent yes it’s fantastic.

And I also have to agree with Chris, I mean especially with Camelot. Guinevere and Arthur’s story is so about the passion and the – not – more like it’s about the sexual attraction between them. And you can’t have that story and show that sexual attraction with them kissing and then shutting the door. I mean it just doesn’t work.

You have to – I mean it’s such an important part of their relationship and what happens in Camelot later on and who they are and how they bond. And so I mean as an actress obviously you don’t want to, you know, run into these scenes and willy-nilly. But I found – I thought it – you know, these – you know, the couple that I did do were important for the character and were essential for the plot and to show what actually was going on between each character.

So yes I find it – I mean it is great to be able to have that and to be able to say certain things and have certain passions.

And I mean I know that the battle scenes as well are quite gory and they’re quite and they’re quite strong. But, you know, battle was romantic and it wasn’t, you know, it’s far from being easy. So it’s nice in both respects to have that – have it a little bit – have the color and contrast kind of turned a bit. So yes, it’s good for an actor.

Chris what about you? Is Merlin getting any?

Chibnall: Well I think what Merlin’s getting and I think what the audience is getting is rather than heads rolling and bottoms going up and down which actually quite frankly we’ve seen day in, day out and there’s not much reinvention on that regard. But I think the reinvention and in particular in Camelot is the sense that we’re showing what everyone knows is an age of chivalry and knights and honor. But we’re showing the people who are famous and icons in this regard. We’re showing them warts and all.

And I think that’s the true gutsy reality. I think that’s what makes is modern and stark is that we’re being revealed these wonderful characters, these heroic characters. But we’re being shown all their doubts and faults and warts and nasty sides. And I think that’s what really much more engaging than just a sort of the rump or the violence.

And I think that’s really what underpinned it is the fact that you have a king which would jump into bed with someone that’s betrayer to someone else or you have Merlin who is taking a mother’s child one or two days old and whipping it from her arms barely out of her womb and then stealing this boy to become a future king, you know, with no sort of warning until the sort of the day has come.

So there’s these star kind of revelations. And I think well people then really know. And if they do it’s kind of – it’s reminded in a really vivid sense. So that to me is where it becomes as an actor, more engaging and more modern and real is that we’re getting to see their faults and their true human conditions of these mythological icons and they’re being brought back to us in a very vivid real sense.

And also, you know, I’m curious as Joseph mentioned, you know, the old religion versus Christianity and, you know, that’s been a major part of the modern versions of the myth cycle. So how much of that are we going to see?

Chibnall: I think it’s there in the background.

((Crosstalk))

Fiennes: Could you shout the question? I can’t hear. I can hear the – I’m so sorry, forgive me. I don’t know if you can hear me. I can’t – I can hear something on Christianity. I’m so sorry.

Chibnall: Joe it was a question about really how much are we going show of the difference between the pagan and the Christian religions and the…

Fiennes: Oh I see, I see.

Chibnall: I’ll jump in and just quick (one) which I think is really – it’s there in the background of the show. And you’ll see it referenced. And certainly, you know, Arthur comes from a much more Christian background. Merlin is clearly from a more pagan time.

But then you’ll have other characters in terms of the from where Morgan has come from is a very complex religious background. And you’ll see in episode four you’ll see Sinead Cusack come in as (Tibal) who is a nun connected to Morgan. And take on religion is going to be interesting.

And then we also have the character of (Leontis) who’s very – his belief in God is very important to him and really important to a lot of his decisions. So it’s not the kind of central theme of the show but it’s absolutely there as part of the texture. It’s a changing world, you know. You have pagans and Christians all kind of vying for space.

Chris, you know, what was it about this material that really appealed to you? And, you know, for the actors, why did you want to take on this project?

Chibnall: I’m jumping so wait. I think growing up as a Brit Arthur and Merlin and Camelot and the idea of it is just embedded in the culture and kind of in your souls growing up.

You know, the King Arthur and – is alongside Robin hood as those kind of great British folktales and myths and icons. And you go and visit, you know, Tintagel and all these kind of great sites. So it’s, you know, it’s a once in a generation chance to tell that story for a new audience and to kind of refresh it and give a kind of version of it. So it’s one of the great myths. It was an absolute no-brainer to do and to tell. And the joy of doing it is it’s kind of infinite in its possibilities so for a writer is a real joy and a gift.

Camelot 2011; Episode 103

Thank you. Joseph, Tasmin, how about you guys? Why did you want to…

Fiennes: I was tricked.

…take on this project?

Fiennes: I was tricked. Chris told me that I’d be up for Guinevere playing as a transition and…

Chibnall: That’s only because you wanted to play Guinevere…

((Crosstalk))

Chibnall: …got that.

Fiennes: But really just in terms of what Chris said it really was – it’s very exciting to turn the myths upside down and to get to the legend in a visceral modern way. And it’s just – it’s done in a beautiful – it’s told in a wonderful cinematic way. It’s a great team of actors. And there’s so many of these episodes that we’ve kind in the back of our mind know about the sword and the stone, the lady in the lake because it’s great to visit them and get them coherently in a really exciting way. And I think what’s really (switched) me in.

Great. And Tamsin?

Egerton: To me I mean I did – one of my first episode 11 result was the Mists of Avalon. So I’m very aware of the (unintelligible) legend and from such an early age. And I think as Chris said, I mean being a Brit you are so aware of this kind of – I mean this icon (unintelligible) Arthur and King Arthur and Camelot and Guinevere. And then you’ve got, you know, Morgan the witch.

And you’ve got, you know, Merlin who’s this mad magician who’s kind of cloaked in mystery and is it real, is it not? I mean I know it’s got of loads of (unintelligible) who believes in it – was – thought that Camelot was indeed in a (coal) in England. So they have that kind of mystery about it. And it is – it’s the same, you know, same (unintelligible). So for me I mean I kind of – I mirror that. And it’s a lead role for a woman who’s strong and has a real journey to take and to go.

And she has some fantastic storylines and, you know, really grows up in the first season. And you can see her journey and (unintelligible) to have such an interesting and strong female role to play. And yes, that’s really why I want to do it. I want to be a part of like Chris said, this generation to be telling of Camelot and also to get the chance to play a fantastic complex, interesting, emotionally passionate young lead role.

Chibnall: It wasn’t so cool (as well). I’ll just say it was great. One of the great joys of the job was just going – I mean you’d be looking at come on Joe, do you want to be Merlin? You know, Merlin? It was just – it was – there were – it was never a difficult sell, you know?

And to be able to say to Tamsin okay you’re Guinevere, that kind of where iconography is so powerful and really then it just gave us permission to have fun with it after that.

Oh great. Hey Chris one follow-up. And what kind of pace is the story going to go over ten episodes? I mean how far can you take the story in the first season?

Chibnall: Well I think one of the key things we wanted to do in the first season was really set the foundations, you know. There’s no rush with the story. And it was one of the things that when I spoke, first spoke to Chris Albrecht at Starz about it, is one of the things he was very strong about, he said, you know, take your time, don’t rush. We’ve got time.

And really what he wanted to see was how all these characters come into this world. So that was a great kind of permission from the boss to really spend time with people. So as I say, you know, you – you’ll see a lot of the iconography this year. You know, you’ll see the Lady in the Lake. You’ll see the Sword in the Stone. You’ll see the very, very beginnings of a round table right to the end.

But this is about, you know, this ten is really about bringing together the group of people and the building and some of the artifacts of what will become the legendary Camelot. It’s not really didn’t want to come in with Camelot as a great glittering golden place in it’s prompt, wanted to – the three for me was telling the story of how Camelot is built and earned and achieved through blood and sweat and tears and a lot of mud.

Question for all of you, I can’t help myself when it comes to the King Arthur, Monty Python and the Holy Grail that’s seared into my consciousness and I wondered if that was true for any of you if for example in the first hour when Joseph as Merlin announces Camelot if anyone was tempted to, you know, compelled to point out that it’s only a model or if in the castle someone was compelled to do the Knights of the Roundtable spamalot dance or any of those things, if someone was tempted to bang two pieces of a coconut together?

Chibnall: Yes, don’t think we haven’t done – yes, absolutely. I think we absolutely had a sort of Monty Python alert actually during production. And, you know, sometimes I’d see people in the background with, you know, the beards would be a little too comical or the, you know, things it’s that kind of stuff that you do have to watch out for.

I think you’re right, you know, I’m the same. You have it hard-wired in so you definitely had a – we had a – an alert for that. And actually it was part of Joe I think it was in our first conversations it was just like, you know, explain to me how this is not going to be spamalot I think was one of them.

Joseph go…

((Crosstalk))

Fiennes: Yes. I mean it – I mean all the whole of I think getting us through five months of filming is really leaning on the fun side that you don’t see. Obviously that’s core on the digital. But all the actors of course there’s all that wonderful tongue in cheek interplay. And we do our own sort of rift on Camelot all the time. It’s what gets us through very cold days where it’s snowing and raining.

So the gag reel at the end of the season might be filled with scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

Fiennes: Could be.

Chibnall: It’ll be locked away forever.

Fiennes: Yes.

For Joseph and Tamsin, did any of your previous roles help you prepare for your character or was this just a completely new experience for you?

Fiennes: I’m so sorry, I can’t – I’m…

((Crosstalk))

Chibnall: I can say it again. Did any of your previous roles prepare you for this or was this a new experience for you?

Fiennes: Sorry Chris, say that again?

Chibnall: Did any of your previous roles prepare you for this experience or was it a new experience for you?

Fiennes: Oh thank you. Tamsin you go ahead, thank you.

Camelot 2010; Episode 102

Egerton: Oh no I don’t think I’ve ever done a character like this before so I couldn’t really draw from previous roles.

I’m – recently I do – I’ve been known for doing a lot of comedies in England. So if I brought back those previous school girl roles, comedy school girl roles to the setting it would have – I just don’t think it would have worked.

So I actually no, I completely went from scratch with this one and just I’m – I just went straight-forward with it. And then and my thoughts of what I read from – I think from, you know, Guinevere research and – I mean there’s a beautiful poem about Guinevere and things that I, you know, just trying to mold to myself from past research and in speaking to Chris and also from what was on the page. So no, I’ve – it’s all from in my mind rather than drawing from previous experiences or roles.

((Crosstalk))

Egerton: Having said that actually – sorry Joe. Having said that…

((Crosstalk))

Egerton: Sorry Joseph. Carry on.

Fiennes: No, no I – sorry. I do after you finish. Go ahead. Go on.

Egerton: No. No I have finished. Don’t worry. I was going to ramble on a little bit more but don’t worry. Go ahead.

Fiennes: No, ramble. I love your rambles. Go on.

Egerton: No. Seriously go. Joe just go, go, go.

Fiennes: Well just I guess there’s a couple of films I’ve done where I’ve had to get on a horse and wear a pair of tights. So that helped in one regard. But nothing could have prepared me for the fun there is to wield magic like Merlin does and especially in the perverted mind of Chris Chibnall has given me lots of great reign in the dark side of those powers. And so that’s been the joy is something very new to me is wielding not all the time, but at certain times great magical powers.

Chris, there are plenty of Camelot and King Arthur enthusiasts out there. Are you interested to hear their thoughts on your adaption?

Chibnall: I don’t really – I try to steer away from reviews and things like that. I think you just have to do the best work you can. And then if people like it that’s great.

But I shall be, you know, hiding under a rock somewhere. You know, I hope people like it. I think, you know, the great thing about this myth is if you don’t like it there’s plenty of other versions you can enjoy. And, you know, I think yes, that’s all I can say. That’s a question that slightly makes me shiver.

This question’s for all of you. While I understand that you’re approaching the legend with a contemporary perspective it looks to me like it must be a lot more fun to work on a period piece as opposed to the contemporary stuff. Has that been your experience?

Egerton: Almost always. I actually loved doing period pieces and purely because it takes you into a different world mentally. The clothes you have to wear are so far from our everyday clothes that it immediately helps with the character and putting you in that mind frame.

And the sets that they get to build are just so beautiful and just so new and fresh, it’s like going to a completely foreign country and experiencing a new culture that you’ve never seen before because the things you get to – you know, you’re exploring different worlds as it were, especially at Camelot. I mean it is so – I mean it is – it’s so – it’s just so magical I suppose. And no one really knew what it was like. I mean, you know, there’s actually – you know, is it myth or is it legend? Is it- you know, no one knows if it’s real of not.

So we were – I mean I know that Chris and the art director went to India to get a lot of his materials and dress the set with some incredible artifacts he’d found out there. And so seeing these, you know, these sets and the costumes are very by (Joan) were just absolutely beautiful. And yes, so much more -so personally so much more interesting than wearing jeans and a t-shirt and walking around somebody else’s house. Yes, absolutely.

Chibnall: Joseph?

Fiennes: Yes. I kind of echo that. I mean I think just probably going to – just say the same thing. I think really an actor, a large part of how an actor works and their process, this is on an outside, not an inward but on an outside level which ultimately can affect your inside interior world is the stimulation of what’s around you and none more so than in a period piece. And I say period with caution because this is a modern piece as much as it is set in a different time, age and myth.

But it’s relevant or else we – it wouldn’t be made and we wouldn’t be putting our energy into it. It’s relevant for us today because in some way it throws up a mirror to all of us.

But having said that the – and from the outside perspective it’s great to have, you know, the atmosphere and the world that’s invented for you. And as an actor you really – you get stimulus and you’re effected by that whether it’s costumes or wonky funny beards or wobbly sets, castles or actually just being in the real deal, being in the Wick low Mountains in County Dublin is pretty stunning. And you really feel like you’re in – you’ve sort of been catapulted in a sort of quantum leap into the Celtic times. And that’s really good and exciting.

And you feel the ghosts of the past in that environment I’m sure.

Fiennes: Yes the goats?

The ghosts.

Fiennes: Oh the ghosts.

Chibnall: The ghosts.

Fiennes: I thought you said goats. Ghosts, yes you do.

Because Dublin’s known for its goats. Chris period piece versus – again I understand the approach to the material is contemporary. But the esthetics…

Chibnall: Yes.

…could you speak…

Chibnall: Yes. Yes it’s fantastic. As a – you know, as a writer and show runner you’re not just kind of creating a set of characters and putting them down in the modern world. You know, you’re world building. And I think particularly with this where it is in the history it is absolutely myth, you know? There might have been an (Nupha). There might have been an Arthur. You know, there’s various interpretations of history.

But, you know, the myth that we’re telling here with Merlin and all that, it’s so open to be manipulated and created. So yes, you’re building this whole huge world of castles and sword fights. And then you can have some magic and, you know, it’s fantastic, yeah and absolutely wonderful. But also then, you know, we wanted to place it within a real context so there’s a real – you know, did a lot of research about the period when it is set. And we have a kind of, you know, an idea of kind of when that is.

But it’s also the great thing about the dark ages is there’s very little documentation available. There’s very little evidence. There’s a certain amount but some of it’s contradictory. A lot of it’s contradictory. So, you know, it was a – it’s joy doing something, you know, in a different era. Yes, absolutely fantastic. Plus, you know, you got stuff like…

Joseph you were…

Chibnall: …the Lady in a Lake, you know?

Camelot 2010 Episode Number 1

Yes, exactly. And Joseph you were talking a bit about the process. I’m just curious, do you think any of your Shakespeare, your previous Shakespeare work on stage or on film helped in your preparation for a role like Merlin?

Fiennes: I don’t know. I think all experience is in some way, shape or form filtered down to helping you in your present moment.

I guess that, you know, Shakespeare might do. You’re desperately… with Shakespeare you’re trying to with a fairly archaic language although in certain aspects it’s deeply modern but you’re trying to phrase it rather like a jazz player or something it – for a (modernaire) to make it scan and be understandable.

And I guess it’s the same not with language but with this sort of the visual syntax and the world that’s nothing to do with us and yet we’re trying to make very connected for a modern audience. So really it’s all about human condition ultimately. So that’s what you’re looking at. You’re also looking to have some fun as well because that also translates.

And I think the preparation, maybe wearing tights once in a while helps, getting up on a horse a couple of times before might help. I think on those sort of practical levels maybe it has helped.

Well it – you know, just in looking at the brief piece that I’ve seen so far there it – there are hints of like Prince Harry. There’s hints of the Iago I see in your performance. That’s just something that I’m, you know, projecting on there but I feel like it’s there.

Fiennes: Well great, all projections welcome in that regard. And, you know, there is a definitely I guess that sort of Iago, that I wouldn’t say he’s ruled by jealousy, Merlin. But he is not to be trusted. And he says one thing and means another whether he’s deeply bipolar or he has a duality and he’s sort of part angel, part devil. And he’s other worldly as well.

So, you know, all of those sort of characters that Shakespeare writes that regard. But maybe there’s a flavor in there. There’s – I guess it’s complexity and the complexity that we’d love to try and find out what’s the sort of mechanics behind it.

And Chris provided there is a season two — and we’ve got our fingers cross, all of us Camelot geeks — provided there’s a season two, can we expect to meet Lancelot in the first episode of season two?

Chibnall: You’re off to spoilers and we haven’t even done season one yet. That is – you know, I’m still putting the music on episode ten.

((Crosstalk))

It’s, you know, it’s show biz. We’re moving fast, you know.

Chibnall: Yes. No, I like your style though — well done.

I have actually two really quick questions. The first is that this is primarily for Chris. Chris you’ve been somewhat the whisperer of getting shows across the pond.

Chibnall: The show whisperer.

Taking…

Chibnall: I love that.

…Law and Order to the UK and bringing Torchwood here. But…

Chibnall: Yes.

…here you’re bringing a very traditional iconic – it is the mythos that somewhat defines England and bringing it to America.

What interests me about that is you’ve referred several times to Merlin as somewhat of a Machiavellian king maker. I think once you referred to him as Obi-Wan Kenobi mixed with Donald Rumsfeld.

Chibnall: Yes.

And I’m interested in how you’re bringing this traditional British epic into America and trying to make it satisfying for that audience.

Chibnall: Well you’re always looking for the big resonances. And I think, you know, Rumsfeld was such a pervasive figure all, you know, across the world that, you know, he was one of the references that Joe and I talked about right from the start.

And when I pitched the show to Starz and to Chris Albrecht early on, you know, we talked about leaders who promise hope and then how difficult that is to deliver on a daily basis. And, you know, it’s the resonances there are really clear and I think it’s the great thing again about myth is hopefully if you – you know there are certain preoccupations that every era has. And hopefully we’re tapping into things that are going on at the moment in terms of fractional countries, in terms of leaders promises, in terms of the complexity and duality of how you rule and the morality of how you rule.

So you just hope that those themes kind of, you know, will resonate with an audience throughout. And I think I’ve been really lucky on the show. So I’ve worked on the – actually we’ve just – I think the more specific you make things the better they travel funny enough. I mean you guys are just about to get The Killing on AMC which we’ve had over here on the BBC – the actual original Danish version. And it’s – I’m absolutely addicted to it.

And I think you do your best to kind of tell your own story in the most specific way and then you hope that that travels and storytelling and particular myths I think is, you know, hopefully travels well when it’s done with kind of heart and honesty.

Okay and my last is for Tamsin. And that’s – it’s been many, many years since there was any controversy about Keeping Mum. And I don’t know if it even crossed the pond. But was it one where getting into a medium it seems like Starz is looking for chancy risky really demo oriented kind of content where you said this is the kind of chance that I want to take again? Was there something about this specifically that said, you know, this is the kind of show I may want to be attached to for several seasons?

Egerton: You – sorry, I don’t think I understood the question. Is it because of the risqué version of the part of the series is why I might want to be part of it?

No, no, no.

Egerton: Is that…

Because I know in the past and maybe for people on this side of the pond that didn’t quite seem the same way, but I know as a very young actress when you were in Keeping Mum there was somewhat of a controversy about your role in that.

Egerton: Yes.

And now you’re in another series that has somewhat of a risky, more contemporary kind of role for you as a young actress is it something where you said this is what I want to take a chance with to go forward with on something that may go several seasons despite that or maybe in part because of that?

Egerton: I think it’s despite that. I don’t think any actors love getting her kicked off. And I, you know, I think unless you’re an exhibitionist which I’m certainly not, it’s one of those – it’s the scenes that you actually dread doing. But and (it goes) so much more go into this role and this job than it does – just so there are I think three scenes that turn up into an episode.

I mean as an actress it’s all about reality. And I’m not a prude. I’m not someone who judges other people for getting their clothes off for roles. And I believe that if, you know, I don’t know, you know, I’m not going to take – show everything. But the odd thing here – you know, the nudity here or there, it doesn’t faze me. I mean I’m…

Coordinator: Her line has disconnected.


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PostSubject: Re: Actor interviews   Sun Apr 03, 2011 2:46 am

http://community.livejournal.com/jamie_bower/52411.html

The Life of A Persona Far Greater Than My Own
I seem to begin most posts with an apology.

I shant this time.

Sorry.

Bugger.

It has been a rather bizarre 3 weeks thus far and it is not about to end swiftly.

As some of you may know already we had to return to Ireland to re-shoot and finish up the final episode of Camelot. This was due to my foolish self deciding to break my ankle at the penultimate week of filming.

Upon our return to the emerald isle we were met with smiles and joy from crew members and cast alike, who had not been seen for 3 months. Fantastically it was like we had never been apart. Like an old schoolfriend reunited after years away the atmosphere on set was sheer bliss.

It was strange to think that only 3 months previously our location had been bitter cold and most inhospitable but now the blessed sun had decided to grace us with its grand presence to wish us on our merry way.

Without spoiling the show for you i shall only indulge minor details of what was done.

A lot of sword fighting and manliness, a bit of singing and a little cry.

We polished up what we needed from that week and made our way hence to Cape Town.

Why Cape Town you ask.

One of our most pretty cast members (the delightful Philip Winchester) is there shooting a new TV show in which he is the star. We needed dear Philip because aside from him being some kick-ass CIA, FBI, MI5 whatdyacallit in his new show he is also one of our most treasured knights and too was involved in our re-shoots.

Naturally our gorgeous week of weather did not follow us to Cape Town.

I blame the Irish cast member Diarmaid Murtagh (who is a fantastic Brastias) and bless his soul / hole, he took sole responsibility.

We landed sometime early in the week (I cannot give specifics as both time and space seem to have alluded me recently). It was grey. Very grey. Table mountain was covered in a misty haze that so often surrounds it during the Winter months there. Thankfully towards the end of our time there the weather cleared and we were given 3 days of Sunshine that only Cape Town can offer.

We fought. Hard. In all our leathers, capes and chaos. We perspired, returning to our plush hotel most days drenched in quite literally blood, sweat and tears. But let me assure you that what we got during the past 2 weeks is something rather magical and a fantastic climax to the first epic season of Camelot.

Officially wrapping up Saturday past we all said our thank yous and our goodbyes to crew and each other. Emotional though it was there was a grand sense of achievement that seemed to flow through us all.

Our flight out was canceled, dull, scuppering my plans to see friends and loved ones before i had to head off to New York to begin a press tour for said show (Camelot)

I therefore had 24 hour journey from Cape Town International to JFK with a layover in London lasting all of 2 hours.

This must be dull for you to read. its dull for me to type. Lets move on.

I landed in JFK and was promptly taken to my hotel where i would be staying for the next 4 days and so began a whirlwind press tour meeting lovely people from magazines, talking to interesting folks from radio shows and doing a live TV interview with a man named Jim, who for someone that had woken up at 3.30am was surprisingly chipper.

I left cold and rainy New York yesterday.

I am now in Cannes.

It is stunning.

Very glam.

Joseph and Eva join me shortly.

We shall have fun.

I make my way to 2 more continents before officially heading home to begin recording our bands 1st E.P.

I look forward to it immensely.

This is what i have been doing.

Hope you didn’t fall asleep.

Much love JCB.
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PostSubject: Re: Actor interviews   Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:40 pm

http://www.upi.com/Entertainment_News/TV/2011/04/06/Fiennes-fired-up-by-new-take-on-Camelot/UPI-67401302073200/

Fiennes fired up by new take on 'Camelot'
Published: April 6, 2011 at 3:00 AM
By KAREN BUTLER

Actor Joseph Fiennes arrives for the premiere of the film "Goodbye Bafana" on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on March 21, 2007. (UPI Photo/David Silpa)

NEW YORK, April 6 (UPI) -- British actor Joseph Fiennes says he signed on to play Merlin in "Camelot" because he was convinced the TV series would be completely different from previous versions of the oft-told tale.

Fiennes told reporters in a recent teleconference he brushed up on his Arthurian legend and spent time speaking to "Camelot" writer-producer Chris Chibnall to prepare for his role of sorcerer in this magic-tinged, medieval world.

The "Shakespeare in Love" and "FlashForward" star said Chibnall made him feel as though their 10-episode fantasy-drama series wasn't going to be "an off-the-peg kind of 'Camelot,' which has been done."

"I got fired up by [the idea of] tackling Merlin in a fresher angle. I guess youth is a predominant factor; that we were seeing a young King Arthur and, thereby, a youngish -- really, I'm into my 40s -- Merlin," Fiennes said, adding his version of Arthur's magical adviser has a "Machiavellian, bipolar" way about him.

"He's not to be trusted, yet he is fighting for this great seat of power and is really sort of the master to some degree in orchestrating [the kingdom of] Camelot and King Arthur," the actor said. "So he's a strange, dark, devious character and I just wanted to have fun."

Fiennes -- whose older brother, Ralph, plays wizard-gone-bad Voldemort in the "Harry Potter" blockbusters -- said he also wanted to get away from the cloak, staff, long beard and pointy hat that have been the hallmarks of previous Merlin incarnations.

"Through Chris came the idea that [Merlin] was more a warrior monk that is coming to terms with his sort of -- his powers and how they can affect him and others," Fiennes said.

Co-starring Jamie Campbell Bower as King Arthur, Tamsin Egerton as Guinevere, Claire Forlani as Igraine, Peter Mooney as Kay, Philip Winchester as Leontes and Eva Green as Morgan, "Camelot" airs Friday nights on Starz.

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PostSubject: Re: Actor interviews   Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:42 pm

http://collider.com/joseph-fiennes-tamsin-egerton-chris-chibnall-interview-camelot/83635/

Joseph Fiennes, Tamsin Egerton & Exec. Producer Chris Chibnall Interview CAMELOT
by Christina Radish Posted:April 1st, 2011 at 1:50 pm

The highly anticipated Starz original series Camelot is a dark and compelling new take on the familiar legend. It redefines the classic medieval tale of King Arthur in a 10 episode first season that is set in the wake of King Uther’s sudden death, when chaos is threatening to engulf Britain. When the sorcerer Merlin (Joseph Fiennes) has visions of a dark future, he turns to the young and impetuous Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower), King Uther’s unknown son and heir, who has been raised from birth as a commoner. But Arthur’s cold and ambitious half sister Morgan (Eva Green) will fight him for power, summoning unnatural forces to claim the crown in this epic battle for control. In these dark times, with Guinevere (Tamsin Egerton) being his only shining light, Arthur will face profound moral decisions while he attempts to unite a kingdom that is broken by war and steeped in deception.

During a recent interview, co-stars Joseph Fiennes and Tamsin Egerton, along with executive producer/writer/showrunner Chris Chibnall, talked about the contemporary appeal of this classic story, putting their own twist on these dark legends, having an ensemble of this caliber bringing these characters to life, and using Season 1 to really set the foundations for the familiar story and characters and illustrate their passion, both personal and political. Check out what they had to say after the jump:

Question: Joseph and Tamsin, as actors, why did you want to take on this project?

JOSEPH FIENNES: I was tricked. Chris told me that I’d be up for Guinevere. No. It was very exciting to turn the myths upside down and to get to the legend in a visceral, modern way. It’s told in a wonderful, cinematic way. It’s a great team of actors. We know about the Sword in the Stone and the Lady in the Lake, but it’s great to visit those myths in a really exciting way. That’s what drew me in.

TAMSIN EGERTON: I was very aware of the legend, from such an early age. Being a Brit, you are so aware of King Arthur, Camelot, Guinevere and Morgan, the witch. Merlin is this mad magician who’s cloaked in mystery. It has that mystery about it. And, it’s a lead role for a woman that’s strong and has a real journey to take. She has some fantastic storylines and really grows up, in the first season. You can see her journey. It was a gift to have such an interesting and strong female role to play. That’s really why I wanted to do it. I wanted to be a part of this generation’s telling of Camelot, and also get the chance to play a fantastic, complex, interesting, emotionally passionate, young lead role.

What attracted you to these roles, originally, and what were the challenges in bringing these roles to life?

FIENNES: The challenge is finding the modern conduit for the audience, having fun and really looking at the duality of this particular character, that is both devil and angel, and on the cusp of losing control of the pagan background, to this newfangled religion called Christianity. There’s a great backdrop there, and just a whole dark side with the magic. He’s slightly from another world and place, so it’s about having fun and presenting it in a new way. He’s more of a politician, and slightly Machiavellian, but there’s also a lovely relationship going on between Merlin and Arthur. There’s so much to be had, really.

EGERTON: For me, it was about trying to keep her fresh, young and likeable for an audience. With the mistakes she makes, it’s very easy to judge her, so my challenge was to keep the audience on her side, understand where she’s coming from and try to feel sorry for her, and still like her, at the same time, even though she keeps making the same mistakes, again and again. The physical preparation was learning to horse ride and doing some sword fighting. It was quite a basic way of living back then, and I just wanted to make her more earthy and quite a strong character. I didn’t want her to just sit in the corner, reading and twiddling her hair. We wanted to make her a character with different sides. It’s hard doing a series because you’re finding the character yourself, and I think you can tell. When I watch some of the episodes, I can see how I’ve grown into the role, and I can see how Guinevere’s grown up. It’s very interesting dealing with that, in each episode. It’s about dealing, not only with the overall story, but also what happens in that one hour. I have to keep myself and my character growing in the right time and in the right places, and showing each new thought.

Chris, what was it about this material that really appealed to you?

CHRIS CHIBNALL: Growing up as a Brit, Arthur and Merlin and Camelot, and just the idea of it, is embedded in the culture and in your soul, growing up. King Arthur is alongside Robin Hood, as those great British folk tales, myths and icons. It was a once in a generation chance to tell that story for a new audience and to refresh it. It’s one of the great myths. It was an absolute no-brainer to do. The joy of doing it is that it’s infinite in its possibilities. For a writer, that is a real joy and a gift.

How did you approach this entire legend, as far as developing the series?

CHIBNALL: First of all, I had to approach it in the sense of taking nothing for granted. There have been so many different versions of the legend and of Camelot, so what I wanted to do was strip it all back, and go back to the beginning and tell the story of Arthur, from the beginning of the relationship between Merlin and Arthur. I went back to the source material of Mallory’s darker story, which is the most complete version of the myth. It was like, “Well, here is the myth and here is what they went through, but what might it have been like if you lived through it then?” If you take it for granted that all this stuff happened, how would it be, to be Arthur at 19, quite happy and comfortable in your life, and then this mad, shaven-headed man turns up at your house and says, “Oh, you’re adopted and, by the way, you’re the king. Come with me, half-way across the country, because we’ve got to sort out some war lords.” It was really about looking for the emotional truth in everything. That’s the way that I approached it. From then on, you just start to ask questions. You don’t want to go with the received images. The conversations that Joe [Fiennes] and I had were absolutely not going for the received way of portraying Merlin. It was more about asking, “What does he want? Why is he so keen for Arthur to get to the throne? What is he seeing? What will it be like to have those powers because nothing really comes without a cost or consequences?” The big thing was making sure that the show was full of character and emotion, and also that every decision and action had costs and consequences. Then, it could start to feel emotionally resident to now. We also wanted to have fun. We had to have a laugh doing it.

Joseph-Fiennes-Camelot-image (1)Joseph and Tamsin, how did you approach playing these iconic literary characters, to give them a fresh spin?

FIENNES: I read as much as I could, but really just spoke to Chris Chibnall and asked all the pertinent questions. That made me feel like we weren’t going to do an off-the-peg Camelot, which has been touched upon in many films and TV series before. I really just picked his brain and, in doing so, I got fired up by tackling Merlin in a fresher angle. Youth is a predominant factor. We are seeing a young King Arthur, and thereby a young-ish – as I’m into my 40s – Merlin. It was about how to tackle it, from that point view. I also wanted to have fun with it. I wanted to have the scope, which I felt Merlin has, in his Machiavellian bi-polar way. He’s not to be trusted, yet he is fighting for this great power and is really a master, to some degree, in orchestrating Camelot and King Arthur. He’s a strange, dark devious character, and I just wanted to have fun, and get away from the cloak and long beard and pointy hat. Chris came to the idea that he was more of a warrior monk that is coming to terms with his power, and how it can affect him and others.

EGERTON: For me, it also was mostly talking to Chris Chibnall and seeing what he had in mind for the character. Guinevere has been done quite a few times, especially as a mature young woman, who either is the damsel in distress or the warrior, strong-willed woman. Chris wanted a variety of things in this Guinevere. He predominately wanted her to be real and natural, and make mistakes and be passionate, and be the feisty young girl, but then also completely naive, innocent and ignorant, at the same time. It was fantastic, as an actress. If you steal other people’s characters, it doesn’t work with the context of the scripts and what is written, so I wanted to make her my own. I was petrified, in the beginning, because it’s such an iconic character, especially being a young lady myself. I’ve always wanted to play Guinevere. I just asked Chris what he thought, and he steered me in the right directions. We just wanted to make her young and able to make mistakes, which I think is important.

Chris, as Camelot has developed, what has most surprised you, in going from concept to actual production, with this miracle cast, in these iconic roles?

CHIBNALL: That’s a really good question. What surprised me and delighted me was the level of cast that we managed to bring in and get to commit to the show. And then, once you’ve got actors of this caliber in place, the joy of a series becomes the dialogue. You discuss things in rehearsal, but then you’re also seeing what comes through in the dailies and the rushes. You’re molding and shaping the characters, as you go along. It becomes a response to what’s on screen. So, the characters have very interesting developments and they take interesting turns because you see a little emphasis in a performance, in a particular scene, and you think, “Oh, there’s a whole facet and a whole emotional storyline there I want to follow.” That was probably the biggest thing, and that was the delight of it, to be honest.

Joseph and Tamsin, what do you like most and least about your characters? What has surprised you about them, as they’ve been developed?

FIENNES: Well, I like the fact that we’re stripping the icons away. They’re the WikiLeaks for the age that we’re revealing, with the transparency of the characters. We’re unearthing the truth beyond or underneath the myth. I love that aspect. And, Merlin is really at the forefront, in that regard. We get a glimpse into the dark, Machiavellian corridors of power. I like the fact that, although he has powers, his powers are almost in his political guile as much as what he relies on, in darker forces. I guess there’s nothing I don’t like about Merlin, in this presentation. I love everything, even the things I find despicable and abhorrent in Merlin. They’re actually a joy to ride on the tailcoats of.

EGERTON: Well, I love the fact that she’s young, feisty, passionate and so naive, in the beginning. What I don’t like about Guinevere is the fact that she can’t control her passions and urges. She gets herself into quite a love triangle, and quite a web. Personally, I find that very difficult to relate to. But, it wouldn’t be interesting, if she did everything right. What’s interesting about this series is that we’re real characters making mistakes and having to deal with the consequences. She’s young and naive. She’s whole-heartedly going into her passions, in everything that she feels, in the series. I think she’s so used to having her life mapped out in front of her and growing up knowing her future and, suddenly, this young person comes along who’s like her and actually turns her life upside down, and he happens to also be very good-looking. Guinevere is just head over heels and doesn’t know how to handle these new emotions that she’s feeling, as a young woman. Unfortunately, she can’t reign it all in, all the time. And, even though she tries to do the right thing and be the good girlfriend and have her morals, she slips up a little bit.

Tamsin, in what ways will Guinevere betray Arthur?

EGERTON: I don’t think we’ve actually gotten that far yet, in this season. We’re taking baby steps. There’s so much. It’s such an epic story and there are so many twists and turns. This season only covers a very, very small amount of the story. So, for now, she hasn’t betrayed Arthur yet. That’s not to say she won’t, but she hasn’t yet.

What is it like for you to play the role of seducer?

EGERTON: It’s interesting. Guinevere is not the Morgan type, where she’s sultry and she knows she has this incredible female energy that she can use and utilize, and she’s not necessarily used to having this power over men. She hasn’t necessarily been aware of it before. She’s an innocent seductress. It’s very interesting to play with that and go into these scenes where it’s very passionate on the page. It’s been very fun playing a different side of it. Seductress is a very interesting term because people always think of them as a victim, but Guinevere isn’t. She’s very much just a young girl who’s learning her heart, and that means listening to herself and actually doing what she wants, for once. But, unfortunately, the consequences of that are a lot higher than they would be nowadays, for a normal 19-year-old, especially since she falls in love with a king. That makes it a little bit more complicated as well. It’s very fun. It’s been wonderful. The complexities of it have been quite interesting, in the love triangle, in particular, and seeing how she handles each situation and each man. She’s a very different person, with each man. She’s very much under Leontes’ (Philip Winchester) wing. She’s his childhood sweetheart, and he’s her childhood sweetheart. It’s almost a brotherly love. But, with Arthur, she’s a completely different person. She’s not there to cook dinner and to be maternal. She’s actually there to have fun and have a more sexual relationship. It’s very interesting.

Tamsin-Egerton-camelot-imageChris, how different is Camelot from the original story? What changes have you made to suit the 21st Century audience?

CHIBNALL: Well, there are so many different versions of the myth. There really isn’t that one definitive version of the story, and that’s the joy of myth. It’s re-invented, every generation, to resonate with the concerns of that particular generation of people. The thing that I focused on was making sure that everything we did and every decision we made was emotionally motivated. With these first 10 episodes, you’re talking about the foundations of Camelot and who Arthur and Merlin are, and everyone brings in all the components that they’re going to need. It was a question of what was interesting and what made it relevant. How on earth do you become a ruler? How do you know what to promise, as a ruler? And, if you’re a leader and you’re out there promising hope, how do you then deliver on that promise? How do you bring something as abstract as hope into existence, and deliver it for people? It’s not hard to find modern resonances and relevancies. It’s all there, in the great material, but you choose what to emphasize. For me, it was about making credible characters that you could relate to, that didn’t feel like they were behind a guise, which sometimes you get with your drama, if it’s slightly removed from modern life. I wanted it to feel very immediate, very fresh and very dynamic. And then, in terms of the narrative, the big decision really was making Merlin a very clear king-maker and more of a spin doctor. We ditched the pointy hat, cloak, staff and beard, in our very first discussion. Merlin is much more of a Donald Rumsfeld/Karl Rove type character, which changes the emphasis of things immediately. And then, the story between Arthur and Morgan really is a tale of two houses – a brother and half-sister who both want the crown, both have equal legitimacy to it and are both going to try to get it. That was where we found the emphasis for this first batch of episodes.

Starz is known for doing more realistic portrayals, really showing the sex and violence of a story. How far do you go with this, and does that free you?

CHIBNALL: As a writer, what’s great and what’s key to Camelot is that it’s a story about passion, in both the personal and the political. The political aims are brought down by personal passions, all the way through the myth, and it’s great that we’re able to show that. I don’t ever want to be gratuitous, for the sake of being gratuitous, but when it serves the stories and the characters, it’s nice to be able to do that, realistically and with credibility. You don’t want to do it for the sake of it, or shoe-horn it in. But, it’s a good tool to have in the toolbox.

As actors, does that change the way you deal with things?

EGERTON: For me, yes and no. Yes, to the extent that it’s all about the writing. If the writing is allowed to breathe and to be, it’s more realistic and you can up the ante a bit more, and that’s fantastic, as an actress, because you’re going off what is written. To that extent, it’s fantastic. Guinevere and Arthur’s story is so about the passion. It’s about the sexual attraction between them. You can’t have that story and show that sexual attraction with them kissing, and then shut the door. It just doesn’t work. It’s such an important part of their relationship and what happens in Camelot later on. It’s who they are and how they bond. But, as an actress, you don’t want to run into these scenes, willy-nilly. The couple that I did do were important for the character and essential to the plot, to show what was actually going on between each character. It is great to be able to have that, and to be able to say certain things and have certain passions. I know that the battle scenes, as well, are quite gory and quite strong. Battle was romantic, but it was far from being easy. It’s nice, in both respects, to have that color and contrast.

Eva-Green-Camelot-image (1)Is Merlin getting any?

CHIBNALL: We’re showing what everyone knows is an age of chivalry and knights and honor, but we’re showing the people who are famous and who are icons, in that regard. We’re showing them, warts and all. That’s the true, gutsy reality. That’s what makes it modern and stark. We’re revealing these wonderful, heroic characters with all their doubts, faults, warts and nasty sides. That’s much more engaging than just a romp or the violence. What underpins it is the fact that you have Merlin taking a mother’s child, one or two days old, and stealing this boy to become a future king, with no sort of warning until the day has come. There are these star revelations. For the actors, that’s where it becomes more engaging, more modern and more real. We’re getting to see their faults and the true human conditions of these mythological icons, and they’re being brought back to us in a very vivid, real sense.

Tamsin, were you okay with the nudity in this series, or was that something you had to really consider first, before signing on?

EGERTON: I don’t think any actors love taking their clothes off on film, unless you’re an exhibitionist, which I’m certainly not. Those are the scenes that you actually dread doing. But, so much more goes into this role. As an actress, it’s all about reality, and I’m not a prude. I’m not someone who judges other people for taking their clothes off for roles. I’m not going to show everything, but nudity here or there doesn’t faze me.

How much will religion play a part in the story?

CHIBNALL: I think it’s there, in the background of the show. You’ll see it referenced. Arthur comes from a much more Christian background, and Merlin is clearly from a more pagan time. But then, you’ll have other characters. Where Morgan has come from is a very complex, religious background. You’ll see Sinead Cusack come in as Sybil, who is a nun connected to Morgan. That take on religion is going to be interesting. And then, we also have the character of Leontes, whose belief in God is very important to him, and really important to a lot of his decisions. So, it’s not the central theme of the show, but it’s absolutely there, as part of the texture. It’s a changing world. You have pagans and Christians, all vying for space.

Joseph and Tamsin, did any of your previous roles help you prepare for these characters, or was this just a completely new experience for you?

EGERTON: No, I don’t think I’ve ever done a character like this before, so I couldn’t really draw from previous roles. I’ve been known for doing a lot of comedies in England, so I don’t think that would have worked. I completely went from scratch, with this one, and used the research and what was in the script, and spoke to Chris. It’s all from in my mind ,rather than drawing from previous experiences or roles.

FIENNES: There are a couple of films that I’ve done, where I’ve had to get on a horse and wear a pair of tights, so that helped. But, nothing could have prepared me for the fun of wielding magic like Merlin does, especially in the perverted mind of Chris Chibnall.

Joseph, did any of your previous Shakespeare work, on stage or in film, help you in your preparation for a role like Merlin?

FIENNES: I don’t know. I think all experience is, in some way, shape or form, filtered down to help you, in your present moment. With Shakespeare, you’re trying to act with a fairly archaic language, although in certain aspects, it’s deeply modern. It’s all about human condition, ultimately. That’s what you’re looking at. You’re also looking to have some fun, as well, because that also translates. Maybe wearing tights once in awhile helped. Getting up on a horse a couple of times before might have helped.

While you’re approaching the legend with a contemporary perspective, have you found it to be a lot of fun to work on a period piece like this?

EGERTON: I actually love doing period pieces, purely because it takes you into a different world, mentally. The clothes you have to wear are so far from our everyday clothes that it immediately helps with the character and putting you in that mind frame. And, the sets that they built are just so beautiful. It’s like going to a completely foreign country and experiencing a new culture that you’ve never seen before, especially at Camelot. It’s just so magical. Personally, it’s just so much more interesting than wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and walking around somebody else’s house.

FIENNES: A large part of how an actor works and their process is the stimulation of what’s around you, and none more so than in a period piece. This is a modern piece, as much as it is set in a different time, age and myth. If it wasn’t relevant, it wouldn’t have been made and we wouldn’t be putting our energy into it. It’s relevant for us today because, in some ways, it throws up a mirror to all of us. As an actor, you get stimulus and you’re effected by that, whether it’s costumes or funny beards or castles.

CHIBNALL: As a writer and showrunner, you’re not just creating a set of characters and putting them in the modern world. You’re world-building, particularly with this. There might have been an Arthur. There are various interpretations of history. But, the myth that we’re telling here, with Merlin and all that, is so open to be manipulated and created. You’re building this whole, huge world of castles and sword fights, and then you have some magic, and it’s fantastic and absolutely wonderful. We wanted to place it within a real context, so we did a lot of research about the period when it is set. The great thing about the Dark Ages is that there’s very little documentation available and very little evidence. There’s a certain amount, but a lot of it is contradictory.

Eva-Green-Camelot-image (2)Chris, how did you approach bringing this traditional British epic to America to make it satisfying for that audience?

CHIBNALL: You’re always looking for the big residencies. Rumsfeld was such a pervasive figure, all across the world, that he was one of the references that Joe [Fiennes] and I talked about, right from the start. When I pitched the show to Starz and Chris Albrecht, we talked about leaders who promise hope, and how difficult that is to deliver, on a daily basis. The great thing about myth is that there are certain preoccupations that every era has. Hopefully, we’re tapping into things that are going on, at the moment, in terms of fractional countries, and leaders’ promises, in terms of the complexity, duality and morality of how you rule. You just hope that those themes will resonate with an audience. You do your best to tell your own story, in the most specific way, and then you hope that that travels well, when it’s done with heart and honesty.

What kind of pace will the story be told in, over these 10 episodes? How far do you take the story, in the first season?

CHIBNALL: One of the key things that we wanted to do, in the first season, was really set the foundations. There’s no rush with the story. When I first spoke to Chris Albrecht at Starz about it, one of the things that he said was, “Take your time. Don’t rush. We’ve got time.” What he really wanted to see was how all these characters come into this world. That was a great permission from the boss to really spend time with these people. You’ll see a lot of the iconography this year. You’ll see the Lady in the Lake. You’ll see the Sword in the Stone. You’ll see the very, very beginnings of a round table. But, these 10 episodes are really about bringing together this group of people with some of the artifacts that will become the legendary Camelot. I didn’t want to come in with Camelot as a great, glittering, golden place in its prompt. It was about telling the story of how Camelot is built, earned and achieved through blood, sweat and tears, and a lot of mud.

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PostSubject: Re: Actor interviews   Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:45 pm

http://whosnews.usaweekend.com/2011/03/tamsin-egerton-talks-about-her-saucy-role-in-the-new-starz-series-camelot/

Tamsin Egerton talks about her ‘saucy’ role in the new Starz series ‘Camelot’
March 31st, 2011 Brian Truitt

Tamsin Egerton has only one scene in tomorrow night’s premiere of the new Starz series Camelot (at 10 p.m. EST/PST), but it’s a doozy: In this latest incarnation of the Arthurian legend, her Guinevere (or at least the naked, REM-state version of her) appears to young Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower) in a dream on the beach, and they engage in some things in the sand that are, shall we say, not suitable for detailed description in a family blog. Like what the Spartacus series did for Roman gladiators, Camelot aims to take a realistic and gritty look at the ol’ roundtable tale, with Joseph Fiennes as the sorcerer Merlin, who comes to Arthur’s side with his dad Uther is killed, and Eva Green as Morgan, Arthur’s scheming half-sister who aims to take over the kingdom. And not to mention the love triangle that arises between Arthur, Guinevere and the dude to whom she’s betrothed, Leontes (Philip Winchester). “That is the key to the season and this program,” Egerton says. “These are real humans, and people are often caught between a rock and a hard place. Guinevere’s a prime example of that.” The show also marks a chance of pace for Egerton, a British actress mostly known for her comedic roles — such as in the recently released (at least in Europe) Chalet Girl. I talked with Egerton recently about Camelot, her role as Guinevere and that memorable first appearance of hers — beware some minor spoilers, though — so read below for our conversation and check out this sneak peek for Camelot.
Photos courtesy of Starz



You have quite the introduction in the first episode, through a nude sex-dream sequence where you emerge from the sea.
Yes, exactly. I’m introduced just as an image and then you find out who I am, which is quite nice. I think everyone knows who Guinevere is and everybody’s waiting to see who she is and who’s going to play her or what the character’s going to be like. It’s quite nice to be introduced in a dream at first, so people can be guessing for at least the first hour and a half. That was quite cool. I admit, I was quite chuffed.

That’s a heck of a scene to be introduced to American cable audiences, too.
Yeah. [Laughs] That was my first day filming as well. It was quite hardcore. I was very embarrassed and obviously meeting a crew and the director and all the producers for the first time and then suddenly having to do those kinds of scenes, it was a bit nerve-wracking.

The second episode has a similar kind of scene, but you’re clothed for that one. Did you shoot both these scenes at the same time?
We shot a lot of beach stuff in the same day actually for episodes 1 and 2. We have the introduction with Arthur, the dream sequences, and the coming out of the water. Most of the day I was soaking wet, with wet hair, wet clothes and everything. And pretty cold. Ireland in the June/July time sounds really warm, because you’re from America! In Ireland, it’s really cold still. [Laughs] Unfortunately, you haven’t had the summer to warm up the sea either. It’s freezing cold. I did some more scenes in the sea later on in September, and it’s so much warmer because the temperatures had risen and warmed up the sea gradually over the months. The difference was insane.

How does one prepare for being naked on a beach?
I don’t think anyone’s really comfortable being naked on a beach in front of lots of people when it’s freezing cold. [Laughs] A lot of girls would probably have gone to the gym and not eaten or whatever, but I actually knew I was going to be cold, so I had two pints of Guinness and some pasta the night before with the guys. Purely because I just thought, “I’m gonna eat these calories. I need this because I’m going to be freezing!” I’m not gonna lie, I really suffered during that day. I had to take half an hour out and paramedics had to come and see if I was all right. But then afterwards, one of the producers was very sweet and made sure I had a massage at a sauna and was like, “There you go!” I went straight from the set after my ordeal and had a nice pampering session, so that was lovely. Being naked comes with the territory. A lot of people are so quick to judge and I’m not a prude, but the character calls for it. This is a saucy piece, and I feel very privileged to be playing Guinevere. To a certain extent, if it’s written, I’m happy to do it. She’s coming out of the sea, and it’s a great image. I’m not going to show everything, I always say I wouldn’t, and what we’re showing is lovemaking. It’s not just any old gratuitous sex. That’s my point of view. I’m personally in a very loving relationship, and I’m not doing that in real life. I mean, I’m an actor! [Laughs] I think people get confused sometimes.

We’ve seen many different takes on Guinevere over the years, from the BBC’s Merlin to Clive Owen in King Arthur. For you, what’s unique about this take and what you want to bring to the role?
First of all, it’s a fresh take. It’s completely different to any other Arthurian legend I’ve seen before, like Camelot the musical or Disney’s cartoon version or The Mists of Avalon, [the TNT miniseries] I did when I was 11 years old. I’m quite involved in the Arthurian legend, especially being British as well. But when I read these scripts, they are so fresh and they’re starting from the beginning of the story — they’re not going halfway through, when Arthur’s a 30-year-old handsome, accomplished man. This is a kid in his late teens and he’s plucked from nowhere, and you go on the journey from the beginning with him and see how he struggles. And it’s a lot more human. We all make mistakes, we’re all individuals — we’re not just knights and kings and princes and magicians. We’re actually real human beings and you see us slip up and make wrong decisions, and you also see us make good decisions and right decisions. It’s unpredictable when you’re watching it, which is very fantastic. Too often now, people take the easy option in writing films and programs, so it’s nice to be watching Camelot and actually not know where you’re going.

The show also rewrites some of the legend, too.
We’ve kept the same core, but we’ve enhanced them or given you a bum turn in an episode and then steer you somewhere else. And we’ve given each story and fable a new view, which again I think hopefully can be quite exciting for viewers. You will get the Lady of the Lake, but it’s very, very different to what anyone’s seen before. Everything, even the loving relationship between Arthur and Guinevere is very different. We’ve changed that up a bit. In this story they are younger, and it gives a fresher appeal.

They do tend to give into their urges in a very youthful, impetuous way. Will their connection and the love triangle with Leontes play out over the course of the season?
Absolutely. With Guinevere’s story in particular, she originally had her life mapped out: She’s a good little girl, she’s an only child, her mother’s died, she’s got her father and is very close to him, and she’s betrothed to this wonderful young man who’s a champion in his own right. He’s a fantastic warrior, he’s a good protector, he’s in love with me, I’m in love with him, and we’ve known each other since we were children. My whole life is mapped out to marry this man, and I’m going to be a good wife. And then suddenly I meet Arthur and everything is turned upside down for me. Then I find this new love. That’s what’s so difficult about the love triangle for Guinevere, Arthur and Leontes, and especially Guinevere and Arthur, is it’s not that she doesn’t love Leontes. She loves them both. That’s the hardship in this season: She doesn’t know which way to turn, how to do the right thing, whether to follow her heart or even what her heart’s saying to her anymore. At the end of the day, she’s a young girl — she makes mistakes. She doesn’t know who she is yet. She starts very fun and full of life and gregarious and demonstrative, and throughout the season, she changes. Yes, she becomes more of a woman, but she has to live with some of her decisions, be they good or bad. It gets quite complicated, and it’ll take more than a season to play out. [Laughs]

You’re young as well. Do you feel you can bring a lot to a character like that because that youthful mindset isn’t too far removed?
Guinevere’s meant to be, I don’t know, 19 or 21 — we don’t really touch exactly on their ages. I’m only 22, so I feel very close to that. I’ve been in love, I am in love currently and so I feel very much that I can bring what I’ve learned in my short life to Guinevere’s short life. Also, the writing is so beautiful, especially for the characters. As an actor, it’s much easier to bring something to good writing than to work hard at bringing all these complex emotions to something that isn’t on the page. It’s been challenging to actually not have an audience. I still don’t know if it’s gonna read, but I can’t go to the producers after reading a couple of the episodes and just go, “How is the audience going to still like me? She’s really messed up here!” That was my one challenge really. It wasn’t so much keeping her real or bringing the correct emotions to her — it was more making sure people still liked her after her decisions and her wrongdoings. I hope I still allowed her to be likable. People have to empathize with her rather than judge her.

Like the other historical Starz series Spartacus, there’s both sex and violence. Do you have action sequences later in the season?
I do. Camelot’s a little bit more character-driven than Spartacus — there’s a lot of violence in that and a lot of fight sequences. I learned to ride horses for this program. In the beginning, I was quite scared of horses, and by the end, I’m doing my own galloping stunts. And I wield a dagger and I learned how to use an arrow during filming. Yeah, I do a little bit of fighting. The good thing about Guinevere is she’s quite feisty, so there’s more of her arguing and saying, “Why can’t I fight? You warriors are out there fighting, why can’t I? I don’t want to sit here and get raped by whoever comes along. I’m not going to be a sitting duck.” She’s growing into that as well. She’s going to be quite the feisty one in the future.

Is it exciting to potentially break out on a show like this in a whole new country?
Well, I hope a whole country full of people will watch this. [Laughs] In England, I’ve got a certain niche at the moment — I do a lot of comedy, which has been fantastic. The last few years, I’ve mostly done very independent, young-schoolgirl comedy roles. To come and do Camelot where I’m playing, first of all, a part I’ve wanted to play since I was a kid, but also it’s serious and it’s a lot more emotional wallowing and playing action and there’s love and turmoil and grief and betrayal — all these things you don’t get in comedies. It’s been fantastic to explore that territory. And it’s an American job and I’m so thrilled to be from this side of the pond. I wanted this part so badly when I was auditioning for it and I worked so hard to get it and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

The Arthurian stuff plays well over here. A lot of people watch Merlin on Syfy, and there’s a lot of interest in Spartacus and other Starz series.
With Merlin, it’s so funny because over here, it’s more for children. Camelot’s not really for young kids. [Laughs] This is more for the adults.

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PostSubject: Re: Actor interviews   Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:46 pm

http://poptimal.com/2011/04/camelot-qa-the-shows-creator-chris-chibnall-and-stars-joseph-fiennes-and-tamsin-egerton-give-us-a-heads-up/

Camelot Q&A: Creator Chris Chibnall and Stars Joseph Fiennes and Tamsin Egerton Give Us a Heads Up

April 1, 2011 by Josh Hatala

The tales of King Arthur and his wizard friend Merlin have captivated child and adult audiences for years, long before a certain bespectacled boy wizard came onto the scene. The legends of old Briton and the feats of the famous knights of the round table have seen many incarnations on screen, from Disney’s The Sword in the Stone to the BBC’s Smallville-esque Merlin. I hear a musical even enjoyed marginal success at one time.

Though often re-imagined, the core of the story remains the same; the boy Arthur grows to be king under the tutelage of the wizard Merlin, while eventually falling in love with the maiden Guinevere and finding himself at odds with the sorceress Morgan. The new Starz original series Camelot takes a contemporary look at this classic story, definitely playing up the romance, sex, and violence that ruled during the era. On a recent conference call, series leads Joseph Fiennes, who plays Merlin, Tamsin Egerton (Guinevere), and Executive Producer/Showrunner Chris Chibnall shared details on what to expect from season one, how their series differs from other incarnations, and if they ever did find that perfect pint of Guinness.

The cast is all familiar with the story, which in the U.K., along with Robin Hood, is the iconic story of childhood. Egerton is acutely familiar, having had a role at a young age in the miniseries The Mists of Avalon, which retells the legend with a feminist twist. Chibnall cites Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur as the closest direct inspiration, but says this new vision of Camelot will be about finding the emotional truth of the characters.

“There have been so many different versions of the legend and of Camelot. So what I wanted to do is strip it all back and sort of go back to the beginning and tell the story of Arthur from the beginning of the relationship between Merlin and Arthur from its very first meeting.”

Fiennes and Egerton agreed, and both discussed the pressure of taking on such iconic roles while at the same time looking for new and unexplored paths. Fiennes said of his character, Merlin, “…he’s a strange, dark devious character and I just wanted to have fun and get away from the cloak and the staff and long, long beard and the pointy hat.”

Fiennes went on to credit Chibnall’s unique vision, which imagines Merlin as a head-shaven warrior monk, as a great starting point to explore how his character deals with his powers and how they affect everyone around him. Egerton found herself attracted to the layers of Guinevere, an iconic character she was afraid to tackle at first. “I think the big thing was making sure that the show was full of character, full of emotion and also that every decision and every action had costs and consequences,” Chibnall said. “Then it could start to feel emotionally resonant to now.”

Chibnall was at first surprised by the level of talented actors who wanted to come on board his project, and he credits them partially with how the characters have ultimately developed, calling it a collaborative process.

“You see a little emphasis in a performance in a particular scene and you think oh there’s a whole facet and a whole emotional storyline there I want to follow,” he said.

Fiennes enjoyed the surprising nature of his character. “We’re unearthing the sort of the truth beyond the myth or underneath the myth,” he said. “We get a glimpse into the sort of the dark Machiavellian corridors of power.”

He continued to drop hints that Merlin may not be the most trustworthy individual of the story, and that those dubious parts are the most fun to play. Fiennes said, “I love everything, even the things I find despicable and abhorrent in Merlin. Actually they’re a joy to ride on the tailcoats of.”

Egerton finds herself torn with the duality of her character. “I love the fact that she’s young and feisty and passionate and so naive in the beginning. And I love that quality about her,” she said. “What I don’t like about Guinevere is the fact that she can’t control her passions and her urges. And she gets herself into quite a love triangle and quite a web.”

She stays quiet about any future betrayals Guinevere may commit, but does say that such plots don’t find their way into this first season.

Regarding the future of the series, Starz has told Chibnall to take his time and tell the right story. Chibnall says he never felt rushed to include as much as he could in the first season and, because there are so many different versions of the story, and so many layers, he certainly won’t run out of material.

“With these first ten, you’re talking about the foundations of Camelot,” he said. “You’re talking about how Arthur, Merlin, and everyone else brings in all the components that they’re going to need.”

He says his focus is on credible, relatable characters built off of the struggles of the time, the conflict between emerging Christianity and fading paganism, which is personified in the characters of Arthur and Merlin. But, according to Chibnall, there are other characters, like Morgan, who have a much more complex relationship with those traditions.

The trio also joked about the good times they’ve shared during off-camera bonding sessions, spending a lot of time at the pubs in Dublin, and fellow cast member Philip Winchester’s statement that they quested for the perfect pint of Guinness. “I think Adron Hughes on Merrion Row is close up there for the perfect pint of Guinness,” Egerton joked, and shared a story about needing the calories from a few pints to prepare for shooting tough scenes.

Chibnall stayed in a house directly across the street from a frequented pub during his time on location. “I don’t think you cannot be opposite a pub in Ireland,” Egerton said.

From what I’ve seen of the series so far, the off screen comradery translates well to on screen chemistry.

Camelot premieres tonight, Friday, April 1 at 10:00 PM on Starz.

For more tv reviews and interviews, click here.

Images courtesy of KA Productions, LTD and Starz.

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