Apr 01, 2011 11:45 AM EST

Get Ready For Staz's Camelot

Get Ready For Staz's Camelot
Earlier this week, Flickdirect.com had the opportunity to be part of a conference call with the executive producer and two of the stars of the upcoming new original series, Camelot, premiering April 1st on STARZ.
It seems that every decade recently there has been another look at the legend of King Arthur.  In 1981, we were shown Excalibur, which followed Arthur from his conception to his death, all condensed into one movie.  In the 90's we had the movie First Knight and the Merlin mini-series.  The 2000's had another miniseries, The Mists of Avalon and another movie, King Arthur.  Lately, we've also had the Merlin series on SyFy.  Everyone knows the basic story of the King Arthur legend.  But this one may be different.  In fact several of the cast and the executive producer agree that it is different.
Chris Chibnall, the executive producer and writer for the series, said "There have been so many different versions of the legend [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...going back to the source material of Mallory's [more darker version] which is kind of the most complete version of the myth in many ways..."  and he ended with this question: 
"..what might it have been like if you lived through them?"
He wants the viewers to know what it would feel like to be raised as a regular person, and be 19 years old...and then have someone show up and tell you that you are the King, and you've got to leave everything you've ever known behind and go with this person to the other side of the country.
The first of the two cast members on the call was Joseph Fiennes (Flash Forward), who plays Merlin.  Joseph was asked how did he approach portraying Merlin in a fresh way and he responded that he spoke with the producer on how he wanted to portray this story from a fresh angle and in doing so "..I got fired up by [being able to tackle] Merlin in a [fresh way]..." and called Merlin "...has [a] Machiavellian bipolar way that he's not to be trusted yet he is fighting for this great seat of power and is really sort of the publicly a master to some degree in orchestrating Camelot and King Arthur."   Later in the call Chris Chibnall remarked that he fashioned Merlin after a Donald Rumsfeld or Karl Rove type - to make the show more relevant to the modern audience and through Joseph we learned that he wanted to avoid the cloak & staff/long beard and pointy hat kind of wizard that many versions of the King Arthur legend seem to include.  Joseph continued later by describing the show as "...[the] Wikileaks for the age [in that] we're revealing with the transparency [of] the characters.  We're unearthing the sort of the truth beyond the myth."  He remarked that he loved that aspect of the show, and that he likes how Merlin "..has powers, his power is almost in his political guile as much as what he relies on in the darker forces."
The second cast member was Tamsin Egerton, who plays Guinevere.  "..Guinevere has been done quite a few times, [usually as] the damsel in distress or the warrior, the warrior fighting strong-willed woman."  But she and Chris wanted Guinevere to be different.  They 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."  Later she continued along this discussion of her character "...she's so used to having her life mapped out in front of her and it's - and growing up knowing her future and suddenly this young person comes along who's like her,... 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."  Her favorite part about this series is that the characters are real.  They make mistakes.  And mistakes mean consequences.  And they have to deal with those consequences.  She alluded to Guinevere getting into trouble and quite a web, so we'll have to watch the show to find how she gets into and out of  that mess.
This version of the King Arthur legend, apart from the different take on the characters that everyone already knows, may be different in how the story is presented, especially for a modern audience.  Chris asked himself "...what was interesting...was like well how on earth do you become a ruler and ... 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?"  He doesn't think it will be hard for modern audiences to understand the new take on the story and have it resonate with them.  He wanted the show to "...feel very immediate and very fresh and very dynamic..."  Hopefully it will.  The show currently only has the one season of ten episodes, which is only a small part of the story of King Arthur.    They felt that they had the time to develop the characters and their relationships rather than trying to fit the entire myth into a two hour movie or a six hour miniseries, which I think could allow this show to not only be successful but be an excellent example of wonderful storytelling.  We'll have to wait and see, starting this Friday.
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