Waaaaaaaah, so cool! yavannyuk posted scans of the new SFX magazine - take a look HERE @ her journal.
I love this set report and especially what the actors said on each other. \0/
WARNING: The transcript of the article contains spoilers for series 2!!!OH L'ARMOURIn a castle in rural France the team Merlin work their television magic. Dave Golder talks to the stars about what's in store for season two
Two knights in full armour are hacking away at each other with massive swords in front of a near empty medieval grandstand. Morgana's there in a front row seat but seems more interested in her iPod (we later learn that she's listening to Guns N'Roses). Merlin sat a bit further along, feet up on the rail, gazing off to the side. A couple of men in jeans and T-shirts are literally muck spreading, throwing dirt around to disguise the gravel surface.
The mini tournament does have an audience, but it's on the other side of a moat. Behind a castle wall, like a ramshackle row of guards armed with cameras, stands a line of curious French children and old ladies, taking snaps.
Next time you watch Merlin
and there's action going on in the courtyard or outside the wall of Camelot, chances are there'll be a bunch of schoolkids just out of shot. That's because Pierrefonds, the rural chateau about 40 minutes' train ride from Paris that stands for the mythical English castle, isn't a closed set during the day. It's a place of historical interest which, by French law, must remain accessible to the public as normal during opening hours. Earlier, as we were being taken to the set, the PR girl told us, "Normally on other shows we ask visitors to keep quiet while filming's going on, but here you'll be drowned out by the hordes of French children running around screaming."
It's a minor price to pay for filming in such a unique and striking location about which the cast is uniformly enthusiastic. "It's staggeringly beautiful," effuses leather-clad Anthony Stewart Head in full Uther costume. "It feels like you're in a living setting. We use it not just for exteriors but interiors, too. There's bits of it we haven't even ventured into. But when you walk into a hall the size of a football pitch and you're playing the king, you really feel like a king."
Colin Morgan, who plays the young Merlin agrees. "The castle is such a huge part of the series. It's almost like another character."
Katie McGrath (Morgana) highlights another benefit about the French leg of the shooting schedule, as opposed to interior studio work in Cardiff. "The best thing about filming in France is that we're all out here and get to hang out together. Like the jousting - we all came in and spent two days sitting on the grass in the sun watching stunts. We were thinking, 'How is this our lives?' We had a game of hide and seek last night in the court yard - the four of us - in the dark, me in full costume clacking across the cobblestones thinking, 'If I fall and break my ankle, the producers won't be happy!' All the extras were watching us running around screaming at the top of our lungs like 12-year-olds. You wouldn't know we were grown ups."
It's July 2009 and the Merlin
cast and crew are in the midst of shooting the second season. Last year the series about the young Merlin an Arthur (described by its producers as a Smallville
-like take on the Arthurian legend) debuted on BBC1 to decent viewing figures and a general critical thumbs up.
As the rehearsals and preparations for the day's big set piece continue - a fight between Arthur and a mysterious challenger in full armour - the stars of the show pop across to a corner of the set to chat about the direction of season two. At one point this leads to the bizarre situation of a fully armoured-up Bradley James, who plays Arthur, talking to us while identically armoured Arthur, his stunt double, is hacking and slashing in the background.
"Every now and again they stick Arthur in a helmed and I know that's a fight I won't be doing," sighs James. "Normally it's written quite conveniently that Arthur's helmet comes off and they let me swing a sword around. But yeah, it's frustrating on days like this where time's a bit short and you have to let someone else have all the fun."
Part of the ongoing story of season one was the growing relationship between Arthur and Merlin, which will continue into season two, but James feels that things need to be shaken up.
"I find myself becoming a bit of a fan and wanting Arthur to find out about Merlin's magic. Because I don't think it can go on too much longer, with Arthur not knowing; the relationship is in danger of going stale if you keep going at the same pace. But I think there's been more concentration on other relationships this second series than on the Arthur/Merlin front. So I'm hoping towards the second half there'll be a bit more development."
"Arthur actually recognises who Gwen is this series after a year of not knowing who she was," says James of Arthur's future bride. "There's hints as to the future. And yes, there is development there."
Angel Coulby, who plays Gwen expands on this. "I think Gwen begins to see Arthur as more the future. He represents a brighter future for the people of Camelot and her. And therefore their relationship starts to develop a little bit more. Then there's a bit of a love triangle as well when Lancelot turns up."
Yes, the dashing knight played by Heroes
's star Santiago Cabrera is making a return. "Lancelot turns up when I get kidnapped," explains Coulby. "He helps to rescue me. But, unbeknown to us Arthur is on his way to rescue me, too. And they sort of come fact-to-face and they're like 'Oh, what are you doing here?' 'Oh, I'm rescuing Gwen...' 'Oh, I'm
rescuing Gwen.' So there's a bit of a clash between those two but it's hidden because Arthur and I haven't necessarily expressed our true feelings for each other."
For Colin Morgan, Merlin himself, season two is a distinct second chapter in his character's development. "It's a growing up tale. In the first series you saw Merlin's powers become stronger as he realised his destiny, and realised what his true calling was, to bring Arthur to the throne. He was also adjusting to life in Camelot. I think he's got the end of that, so now it's about becoming stronger, and building those relationships. He's already accepted his destiny so it's about how he goes out achieving that, and the challenge that he faces, and there are quite a few."
Such as? "Merlin right off from the beginning of season two faces a challenge of dignity and, I guess, endurance, when he's faced with competition from Mackenzie Crook who tries to drive Merlin away so he can get closer to Arthur. The bond between Arthur and Merlin is tested to the brink, because Merlin could very well go, 'Oh well, frig it!' and hop on a horse and be away. It's quite a dark but funny storyline, and that's something that there's a lot of coming up."
The first episode also ends with a major, magical slugfest the like of which the show hasn't seen before. "The big finale of episode one should kick things off well," grins Morgan. "We spent 11 hours filming it, which will last probably about three minutes on screen. But I think it says a lot about what we're doing with scenes like that in this series. We're taking our time over them, and it's great to see that."
Morgan also reveals some of the other adversaries coming up this season, including some giant scorpions, the most powerful sorcerer ever and some nasty little things like giant mole rats. "They're bald and they can't see or hear, but they can smell. And we have an interesting way of trying to avoid those whenever we come into contact with them."
Ask any of the actors about guest stars they've enjoyed working with this year and one name comes up in time and time again: Charles Dance, who turns up as a Witchfinder.
"Come on! Charles Dance!" enthuses Katie McGrath. "I sat across from him at the first read through and he's got a scene where he's interrogating me - no acting required. I was petrified."
Richard Wilson, who plays Merlin's mentor Gaius, agrees. "Gaius has a very nasty time when he's about to be burnt at the stake by Charles Dance. Perfect casting, of course.
The grandstand is now filling up with extras, mostly French, who have a French-speaking extras-wrangler to direct them. "The supporting artists are just astonishing," says Anthony Head with genuine pride. "I was watching Marie - she's the one who's now talking to them - working through it with them, giving them motivation. It's kind of unheard of, and they just kind of know how to stand. It's extraordinary, they have medieval breeding in their blood! Most of them live around here."
Finally, everything is ready for a take... until a manic dog invades the set and runs around looking for someone to play with. At least none of the schoolkids have done that. Yet.
(c) 2009 by Dave Golder, SFX magazine UK
"He's weird. A very strange lad. He's got a very dark sense of humour and I didn't really get it at first. But I've found myself over the course of the first series attuning myself to this weird sense of humour and then thinking, 'Well I must be weird because I'm getting it now.' Yeah, just hang out with him for a bit and you'll notice."
"Bradley's very, very observant, so he really picks up on other people's habits and things. And he's very, very good at impressions. I think he can do an impression of pretty much everybody in the cast."
"What the hell have you been told? I don't do good impressions. They're appalling to say the least. I quite often fall into a very bad David Bowie impression. Oh my god, I'm not going to be drawn into this as it's the most embarrassing moment of my life."
EMBARRASSINGENTERTAINING THAN THIS? :D]
"Richard Wilson is a national treasure. He's just fantastic. And I'm very, very lucky to work with him and to learn from him. There are definitely parallels to the characters on and off screen. Richard is very much like a father figure, and he does take me under his wing. I sat beside him on Space Mountain at Paris Disneyland! He was laughing the whole time. We were a bit worried, actually. But he's so resilient, so up for everything you forget sometimes that he's a 73-year-old man and he was well up for it. He loved it."
"Colin described me as a national treasure? Oh, bless him. Well, he's fast becoming one himself. Most of my scenes are with Colin. He's brilliant to work with. Professional. Hard working. Delightful. Doesn't have to wear a wig. I just have great respect for him. Our common denominator is cinema. I'm trying to get him to watch some great classic films, which he hasn't seen, of course. Well, he hadn't seen. I'm trying to encourage him to look at Japanese cinema for example, which was hugely influential in my sort of thinking about cinema, and television and theatre. And we just get on really well together.
Disneyland was a dubious pleasure. It was a wettish day, and I thought Paris has much more to offer. So I left them to it and came away. But Space Mountain was interesting."
"Occasionally Bradley and I have a father and son relationship! I have to clear up after him! The other week, everyone left their stuff in my room. I came back from somewhere and everyone had cleared their stuff up, apart from Bradley, who'd left his football. I was like, 'Take your football away!' I had to call him up to see when he was going to take his football!"
"I can't believe..." I think we went to Paris for the weekend and he said, 'Yeah chuck your stuff in my room,' and I went back in and picked up my suitcase and I guess the ball just rolled under the sofa. And then the next day I get a text saying, 'Why have you left your football in my room? Unbelievable!' and I was like, 'It's a football!'
I LOVE THIS ARTICLE AND CAN'T WAIT TO GET A COPY OF SFX MAGAZINE! :D