Tuesday 17 January 2012

New York Post Interview with Colin Morgan

Interview: 'Merlin' star Colin Morgan, Arthurian legend nerd

12:43 PM, January 17, 2012  Maxine Shen
The Season 3 DVD of “Merlin” is in stores today. To celebrate, we broke out the good mead and our fanciest velvet doublet…just kidding. We actually had a chitchat with the BBC/Syfy fantasy series’ extremely well-read star, Colin Morgan (the titular Merlin). He put his vacation on pause to talk Arthurian legend, "Merlin" fans and the two shirts that make up the wizard’s daily wardrobe.
Merlin, modeling his go-to red shirt/blue scarf comboThis wall is no match for Merlin's mojoArthur and Merlin, saving Camelot yet again - must be a Friday
Merlin, modeling his go-to red shirt/blue scarf combo

The Post: Is there a difference between a red shirt day and a blue shirt day for Merlin?
Colin Morgan: [Laughs] You know what, I don’t think there is. But I applaud you for noticing the difference because even people on set sometimes don’t notice the difference when I change shirts. I think it’s literally dictated by the whim of the costume department, so maybe they have a reason. I’m going to ask them when we start the fifth season, I’d love to know. Maybe I’ll get darker shirts for the fifth season, [since the series] just gets darker and darker.
The Post: After four seasons, are you an Arthurian legend expert yet or what?
Morgan: I’ve certainly educated myself a lot more. When I initially read the scripts, I didn’t know a lot about the Arthurian legends or about the details or the in depth stories, but since doing the shows I’ve read a lot of the traditional stories – “Idylls of the King” by Tennyson, “Le Morte d’Arthur” by Malory, even “The Once and Future King” [by TH White]. I read a lot of independent researches into Merlin as a [real] man or a myth, too.
So many different countries have got their version of what Merlin is: the Scottish say he Scottish, the Welsh say he’s Welsh, the French say he’s French. It was great for me to read all that and realize that I could kind of do no wrong really, because there is no set image of the man as we are telling it - the young boy. There’s very little written about him when he was growing up, the times when he made mistakes, went through mishaps and learned from them. That was great for me and a great learning experience.
The Post: Any favorite legend moments that you’ve gotten to film?
Morgan: I read “The Crystal Cave” book by Mary Stewart and I thought it was a really, really interesting part of the legend, in which Merlin could enter into the cave with these crystals and see reflections of the future in them and learn how to use that and harness those powers for himself. We did explore the Crystal Cave in a past episode, where Merlin tried to change the future and, of course, as everyone knows, if you try to change the future, you’re going to mess everything up, for anyone who’s seen “Back To the Future.” It’s a legend that I’d like to see them revisit, [when] Merlin actually learns how to use [the crystals] because I think he’s matured now since we last did that episode. That’s been my favorite from what I’d read.
Also, I really enjoyed another legend of two dragons underneath a castle: The castle wouldn’t stand because of the [unstable] foundations and they needed the blood of a boy who didn’t have a father to make the castle stand, which I thought was quite dark. So, they came across Merlin, who had no father, but he managed to convince them to dig under the [castle's] foundation. Under the foundation, they found two eggs - they hatched and one was a red dragon and one was a white dragon and they fought. It was a symbol of the Welsh fighting the English, so it was like a premonition type thing. There’s a lot of stuff like that that they could explore.
Merlin, modeling his go-to red shirt/blue scarf comboThis wall is no match for Merlin's mojoArthur and Merlin, saving Camelot yet again - must be a Friday
This wall is no match for Merlin's mojo

The Post: Any chance those legends will pop up in an upcoming season?
Morgan: The crystal cave may be a possibility, that could be good. I think we could revisit that, I don’t know [about the dragons], unless maybe Arthur decided to build a castle for himself or something like that. But hey, the producers and the writers are always throwing new stuff [at us] all the time and constantly exploring new aspects and looking to tell the legends in different ways. That’s a big theme of the show - we see the legends, but in ways we don’t expect.
The Post: Most people don’t know much about those legends. Do you feel responsible for introducing them to folks?
Morgan: I suppose not so much a responsibility, because I was at the same place as anyone who hadn’t heard about the Arthurian legends when I first started the show. I’ve been introduced to the legends through being in the show and I think that anyone who’s maybe started watching the show has possibly either stuck with the show and taken it for what it is or thought, “Actually, I wouldn’t mind learning about that or King Arthur or about what that is.” So, I guess the responsibility is with us to deliver our performance and show characters that we like and believe in and that we’re rooting for throughout the whole series. A great by product of that would be if people decide they want to learn more and, of course that’s a real big bonus.
The Post: And it’s easy to learn more about it.
Morgan: Oh yeah, you’re spoiled for choice, really, with the stories that are out there. Although I recommend the Mary Stewart trilogy if you want to read more.
The Post: Ever worry that kids are going to start using “Merlin” for book reports, instead of the original legends?
Morgan: That would be a big mistake if they did. Any Arthurian enthusiast who has watched “Merlin” has probably concluded that it’s not accurate whatsoever – but, it’s not meant to be. It’s not meant to be a true telling. It’s in a fantasy setting, it’s really concentrating on the fantasy element. If they wanted it to be a true telling they’d maybe call it “The Chronicles of Camelot in a Time of Desperate…” you know, they’d call it something quite serious and not “Merlin.” You immediately hear the word “Merlin,” you think magic, you think adventure, excitement, you also think an old man. So that’s where the show’s different, it takes what you think it’s going to be and it shifts it and changes it and makes it a bit new and exciting.
Any kids out there, don’t base your homework on “Merlin.” Just enjoy it and then read the books.
Merlin, modeling his go-to red shirt/blue scarf comboThis wall is no match for Merlin's mojoArthur and Merlin, saving Camelot yet again - must be a Friday
Arthur and Merlin, saving Camelot yet again - must be a Friday

The Post: What’s the standout change between the series and the legends?
Morgan: The initial thing was the ages of the characters, that Merlin and Arthur were the same age. I think that was a big crux for a lot of people. Merlin was very definitely supposed to be an old man guiding the young Arthur to the throne. I think that was the first thing that people sort of thought, “Oh, they’re the same age, that’s a bit odd.” But, as soon as that was got over and you accepted it as a concept, then you buy into what makes the show work and the dynamic and the relationship between the two characters. That’s one thing people consistently comment on - the relationship between the characters and how much fun it is and how emotional it can be as well. That’s what you get throughout the show, the depth of emotions and the characters as they go through the biggest shifts in their lives, ever. The audience is able to see that throughout the seasons, particularly in this new season [No. 4], it’s the biggest shifts there’s ever going to be.
The Post: People in the UK have been known to dismiss “Merlin” as just a family show. How annoying is that?
Morgan: I often think that the people who say it’s a family show haven’t watched it. The people who do watch the show get it and know what it is and say yeah, a whole family can sit down and watch the show…[but] each person will get something different from it and will enjoy it to the same extent.
A lot of people say, “Do kids come up to you all the time?” No, it’s actually really adults that come up to me and say how much they love the show. They watched it because they thought it was a family show and they ended up loving it and they’ve got the DVD box sets. And that’s exactly what a show should be, it should be unexpected, open your mind and maybe change what you first thought it would be. It never annoys me if people have seen the show, but I guess if somebody makes that judgment without having seen the show, you sort of go, “Hey! Watch it. Check out and see what you think.”
The Post: And you’ve got millions of fans, so you don’t really have to care what people say.
Morgan: Exactly, we’ve got a really strong fan base. They’re good to us.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/tvblog/merlin_colin_morgan_talks_legend_xia4kUqHgnJ9hZdmraqVzM#ixzz1jkVT11Vw

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