Q&A: Merlin’s Colin Morgan and Bradley James

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Colin Morgan and Bradley James costar in Merlin, which returns for Season 3 on Friday, January 7th on the Syfy Channel.

How is the return of Morgana going to change things in Season 3?

Bradley James: All right. I’ll answer that. And whenever Morgana turns up in Series 3 there’s been a year-long search for her as decreed by Uther. And we don’t know where she’s been for that year. We don’t know what she’s been up to or what she’s been harvesting.

But it becomes very evident very quickly in the first episode that despite appearances she hasn’t changed. She’s just as evil as she was before if not more. And so it’s basically the beginnings within the first episode of where she’s going to go and what she’s going to create and what she’s going to change.

Can you tell us a bit about Season 3 and what we’re going to see?

Bradley James: Well I don’t think it’ll – I’ll get into too much trouble for this. But basically I think the thing I was most excited about with the third series is the introduction of certain characters who have a more longstanding place within the legend and the story and within the show for us because there’s one or two knights who turn up. And I was particularly sort of really pleased about that because it’s had a sort of aspect of developing the show as well which is a great thing about Season 3.

For people who may not have seen the show before, what can you tell us that separates this version of the story from all the others that have come before?

Bradley James: Well I would say that we’ve completely butchered the legend and sort of reworked it for sort of Saturday night escapism because anyone who’s kind of quite strictly religious to the legend perhaps will take a bit of time to get used to what we’ve done to it. But we – I think we’ve taken the legend and kind of – I mean the producers like to sort of compare it with the sort of Smallville idea of having Superman before he was Superman.

And I mean this is Merlin before he was Merlin and Arthur before he was King Arthur. So it’s kind of the prelude story to the familiar tale that everyone’s aware of.

Who do you consider the greatest enemy of Merlin: Morgause, Morgana or Uther?

Colin Morgan: Definitely Morgana. I’m probably a combination of Morgana, Morgause but probably Morgana just purely because of the part she has. Merlin tried to kill her which is the biggest – she’s got this – the biggest dirt on Merlin that anyone does and she’s – she threatens to use that against him.

And again she’s in a position of power. And Merlin’s the only one that knows of what her true power is and how she can use that. So yeah, Morgana definitely.

How will the relationship between Merlin and Arthur evolve this season?

Bradley James: Well I’d probably say the same things as you, Col. Actually I’d say one thing different in the sense that you sort of mentioned that there’s that master/servant relationship which will always be there. And I’d probably disagree with that because I think they’ll get to a point where Arthur will no longer see Merlin as a servant, where they will be equals.

I don’t think that will happen too soon. But I think that’s kind of where the progression of that relationship goes.

I think the show itself kind of – that relationship has to be quite steady in its progression anyway because it can’t make any sort of major jumps because I think it’s sort of quite important to the show. So if you suddenly made too much of an adjustment to it I think the audience would kind of find it a little bit weird.

I’d say that there’s that progression to them becoming equals and the sort of high levels of trust in these seemingly endlessly kind of mortal situations they keep finding themselves in. Mortal situations, that didn’t make sense. What’s the word I’m looking for, Col?

Colin Morgan: Lethal?

Bradley James: Lethal, lethal, lethal situations they find themselves in.

Lancelot and Arthur are traditionally good friends. Will that be explored?

Bradley James: It’s something I’ve picked up on myself. I mean it’s, you know, in the legend Arthur and Lancelot were best friends. It was kind of, you know, the sort of such – why it was such a difficult situation that Lancelot initially to betray him is because they were such good friends.

And in some of the kind of darker versions you read Lancelot is actually in love with Arthur. I don’t think Santiago will be taking to follow that storyline down the road.

It’s been I suppose a bit difficult to kind of introduce that aspect because Lancelot hasn’t been in that many episodes. She’s coming up this year. But he’s obviously only done two previous so it’s a little bit difficult because they’ve pretty much introduced straightaway the dilemma of Lancelot and Gwynevere.

So I would hope that it does get the opportunity to blossom as a story because it’s quite an integral part to the original legend. But who knows? We shall see.

A lot of the great comedic moments of the series come out of your characters’ relationship. Is it all acting? Does any of it carry over off-camera?

Bradley James: I think it’s been said that the similar sounds coming from the pair of us when we’re working together is laughter. We do tend to have quite a good time and crack quite a few jokes.

And I suppose that sort of then takes itself onto set when we’re performing the roles. And it kind of helps, kind of that fluidity I suppose and that ease when it comes to doing scenes with comedy involved.

And it’s a lot of fun to work with Colin. Colin, just cover your ears a minute. You might…

Colin Morgan: Yeah.

Bradley James: But it’s a lot of fun to work with Colin because we work together a lot and I could have personally found myself in a situation where because Arthur and Merlin do have so many scenes together you really would have been hoping for somebody who you can act with.

And I think, once we sort of get on set and get through the course of filming the series we have a very good time. So I feel very fortunate about that because it could have been a hell of a lot worse.

Colin, you can take your hands off your ears now.

Colin Morgan: Oh sorry. I was…

Bradley James: How could you hear me say that? That proves you weren’t covering your ears.

Colin Morgan: Oh no.

Bradley James: Anyway, sorry. Go ahead. Speak.

Colin Morgan: Yeah. I agree. I mean it’s great because you can go and have a bit of a laugh before your scenes when there’s humor and comedy involved but equally when it comes to more I guess dramatic ones or ones that are a bit heavier.

We also can tone it down and focus on it as well. But it’s good that you’re getting that dynamic as well. We’re both challenged with the work in that way. But as Bradley says because we get on so well it’s never feels like work which is great.

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