As any fan of the British fantasy series MERLIN knows, a king is only as powerful as the people that stand by him and beside him. For one cannot rule without the love and loyalty of a kingdom’s sovereigns and the knights willing to fight at your side. So Arthur would be but a man with a title without the stalwart support and strength of his knights. In a recent conference call with press, co-stars Tom Hopper, Eoin Macken, Rupert Young, and Adetomiwa Edun who portray the dashing Knights of the Round Table on MERLIN happily shared what is upcoming on the fun, fantasy series.
First of all, what would you say you most enjoy most about your role?
TOM: I guess we do quite a lot of physical stuff, which is a lot of fun. We do a lot of fighting and look cool with a sword, which is always a lot of fun.
ADETOMIWA: I absolutely concur. I’m right behind Tom when he says it’s a lot of fun kind of getting stuck in with the action because we’ve got a couple of good ones in mix in this season.
EOIN: I concur.
RUPERT: What does “concur” mean? [Laughter]
Is there anything in the upcoming episodes that the fans should be looking for that you would like them to see?
EOIN: I think if fans can start the episode where Tom wears anything on his arms, that would be epic.
Interviewer: Besides young children.
EOIN: [Laughter] You said that, not me!
Did any of you actually watch MERLIN before you got cast in MERLIN?
EOIN: Yes. I did because MERLIN is a wonderful show and I heard about it so often.
ADETOMIWA: I also did watch MERLIN before. Sorry. I’ve got Eoin Macken here making some extraordinary faces and it’s quite distracting! [More laughter]
EOIN: I just want to know what episodes you watched before you were cast.
ADETOMIWA: I watched the whole first three seasons.
RUPERT: When you audition for the show, I had a couple of days so I tried to watch as many as I could. So I also watched — and since being in it — I’ve watched it even more. My mom makes me.
TOM: We all now watch the show because we’re all narcissistic. [Laughter]
Could perhaps tell us a little about your initial audition for MERLIN and getting started in your respective roles?
TOM: Basically, when I heard I was going for Percival — I just did a lot of research and then in character — which actually came to not a lot of avail to what they actually decided to do with the character in the show. It was slightly different from what they took on it. But, yes, basically the audition consists of — and this is the same for the other boys as well — is that you get your script through and you read it through with the director and if you’re right for the part, then they’ll give you the offer.
RUPERT: When I first auditioned, I was up for two parts. One was the Sir Leon, which I now play and the other was another part who actually died another night. Luckily, they cast me as Sir Leon. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be employed anymore.
Unidentified Participant: Would he be dead?
RUPERT: And I was only meant to be in a couple of episodes and then they kept bringing me back. So I’ve kind of developed the character with the writers so it’s been quite exciting.
EOIN: I just sent a video being topless in a bed, and that was my audition, no lie. It’s true! [Laughter]
ADETOMIWA: I went in, I met with them — the director of the block that was I was set cast in, and it seemed to have the desired effect.
EOIN: I did consider before MERLIN I was going to write them letters just asking to be in the show, but I thought better of it.
Can you tell us a little bit about some of the acting challenges you found working on the show, and how have you seen your characters sort of grow and develop as you’ve been playing them out this season?
RUPERT: I think what’s been quite lovely, or nice is the group of us working together is the right mix — the kind of relationship we had off-screen and into their characters. So it was quite nice to get that group dynamic which the writers found and also we found off-screen. So that was really fun.
EOIN: I think the characters have progressed since we began and are written very well — and then we came in and ruined it. So they might have to save it for a really solid ending. [Laughter]
ADETOMIWA: Speaking for Tom and myself, I think we just agree that we beg to differ. Personally, one of the challenges I found is shooting in Wales, although I love it. . . All the stuff out in the forest — is that it can be quite cold. I’m definitely solar-powered.
In filming of the season 4 opener, what did you enjoyed most about shooting that two-parter?
RUPERT: First of all, it was a new. We were shooting on 35-mm and everything was bigger and better and so when we were filming, it was us coming back together after being away from each other for a few months and it was the first time the unit of knights were really huge. So it just felt much more exciting and there was an air of excitement even from day one.
EOIN: I think what was fascinating about the opener was the fact that because it was a much darker tone than the previous series and because we had this great big quest feel. And it was all of us together, as Rupert said, going on an adventure, and with the Derocha — which had a lot of special effects. We didn’t really know what was going on, which kind of lends to what was happening with the characters. Because you can’t see the Derocha and we didn’t know what was happening, so our confusion was real and that was really great.
ADETOMIWA: The scale of the first two episodes was massive and we shot in some fantastic locations that were really evocative and added to the experience of shooting it, which was a lot of fun.
Was it tough with the special effects? I know there was a lot, especially with the Derocha. Was it tough filming with those special effects?
RUPERT: I think what’s quite interesting is when you’re filming them, you don’t actually know what you’re trying to attack. So if somebody tells you attack from all sides while looking in this general direction and hold a flame, and so you do it to nothing. And so it’s not until you actually watch the episode — you go, “Oh wow, that is actually quite scary.”
EOIN: Working with the Derocha — when you’re acting — acting is about reacting. You need to react off someone doing something to you. The Derocha don’t really give you anything back, so it was hard to act against them.
RUPERT: It’s like working with Eoin. [Laughter]
Being the feisty bad boy, Sir Gwaine seems to have friendships both with Arthur and Merlin and they’re kind of different. So how would Gwaine describe his friendships with each of them?
EOIN: I think that the initial friendship with Arthur was actually more of a competitive relationship that became a friendship through respect because initially, Gwaine as a character didn’t have any time for Arthur because he was royalty, and Merlin was more respectful towards him and they became friends much quicker. But I think as it developed this year, I think that Arthur and Gwaine became much stronger friends, as Arthur did with all the knights, and to virtue of they’re fighting battles together so you’re fighting side by side. So Merlin and Gwaine haven’t been as strong friend-wise because Gwaine doesn’t know what actually Merlin does in terms of his magic, so Arthur and Gwaine would fight alongside each other, as alongside Percival and Elyan. And so because of that we have a stronger bond that way, I think.
Sir Leon’s been around with Arthur for a long time and, for the most part, he would have seen Merlin as Arthur’s servant. And now that things have kind of changed, has his picture of Merlin has changed? Have they become sort of friends?
RUPERT: I think that with the relationship with Merlin is that because he’s been around and he’s always at Arthur’s side — as has Leon, in many ways – and they have grown to like each other. However, there’s always that status. So I’m always going to be a slightly higher status than Merlin. So we all — I think my character and all the knights — we have a joke with him, we have a laugh with Merlin, but there’s always a line, in the same way to a point, but not as much as Arthur and MERLIN. There’s that respect there, but Merlin always knows his place and we’ve always got to remember that he’ll be our friend, but when he needs to be, he is still a servant.
Can we expect to see more about the knights’ backgrounds or personal lives, and if not, what can we expect to see more of in the fourth season?
TOM: I think as the series goes on, there are big things that happening in the story, so I don’t think you really get to see that much about our backgrounds because this series very much focuses on the development of Arthur becoming who he’s going to be. And I think it’s more about the knights being there for him on that journey. So potentially next series there may be more of that. But I think this series is more about us being on the side of Arthur and being there for him in his formulate years.
ADETOMIWA: Adding to what Tom was saying, I think this season is quite epic and it focuses on the overarching theme. So like I think you can expect through the evolution of a slightly different Camelot, there are issues raised by Arthur’s relationship with Guinevere and things like that are sort of foreground. And I think you do. You get glimpses of the knights, but you see them primarily as agitators in the formation of this new sort of Camelot.
EOIN: I agree with everything Adetomiwa said, in general.
Do you have favorite scene that you did from the 4th season?
EOIN: My favorite scene personally was myself and Rupert have a really great scene coming up in I think episode 8 where we’re just really interesting. There’s an episode that basically mainly focuses on the knights, so I’m sure the fans will look after that because we’re pretty brilliant in it. And the scene — it was quite interesting because a lot more conflict between the knights in terms of creating a different dynamic to our relationship. So I enjoyed a scene with Rupert which we had in the forest which got quite heated and it was fun.
ADETOMIWA: Tom and I did a little bit at the opening of the series which was quite fun, rescuing the children from the Derocha. That was good. And then following on again from what Eoin said, I think that sort of — if I may call it the knights’ episode — has some really nice stuff — interplay between us all — all four of us, which was a lot of fun to do.
TOM: Certainly my favorite had to be saving the kids with Adetomiwa in episode 1. That was a lot of fun. And saying again really, I think the knights’ episode — which is, I believe, episode 8 of this series — so I think for all four of us it was a lot of fun to do that though because we all got to get a peek or hint of something that was really on the story line of the episode. So that was a lot of fun.
RUPERT: Yes. Same. As I have said, it’s the first time we all go out often, and it was just nice to see the characters developed a little bit in those, as Eoin said, with conflicts and that was the most fun to shoot. The rest were not quite as fun.
What kind of feedback do you get from fans about your characters?
TOM: I think it’s varied really. Three of us are on Twitter and you get kind of mixed feedback, which is some girls and guys that, I guess, have an attraction towards them and then I guess there are some that just want to know every single fact about the show. And I think they know more about the show than we do. But generally, the feedback is good. It seems like we have some very nice, loyal fans. It’s nice.
ADETOMIWA: Yes, it’s really nice. It seems that this show has a really supportive family, which is awesome. I think a lot of girls are very jealous of Eoin Macken’s hair. I get a lot of questions about what products he uses.
ADETOMIWA: And I get asked a lot as well how I feel standing next to Tom’s arms, and I always — as I always tell people, if they’d let me get my arms out . . .
EOIN: Myself, Rupert and Tom are all on Twitter so we really get interaction with the fans. Adetomiwa doesn’t know how to use Twitter. He’s not very tech-savvy, but we’re trying to teach him. And I think the fans have actually been great. . . being on Twitter and so forth allows you to engage with someone, and they’ve all said some — I’ve actually learned an awful lot more about MERLIN and the show from them because, as Tom said, they do know everything about it — and when we don’t pay attention to what’s going on, they remind us.
RUPERT: I think that’s the amazing thing about the fans of the show is it’s all age groups. You do see — there are a lot of children — that the age goes up to 80. It’s a family show and there are a lot of different people. And so what’s interesting is just seeing that dynamic and seeing people around the world who love the show and know the show. It’s fun to be a part of.
EOIN: It’s been genuinely fascinating because MERLIN does have such a wide-reaching fan base. It does hit all demographics and you do get people all over the world, which is great because you get to see how everyone’s got a different subjective take on it from all the different parts of the world and because we all seem to be connecting with it. It’s great.
Can you talk about working with Bradley James and Colin Morgan?
TOM: They’re great. Obviously, as you can tell, there’s a lot of banter between the boys here and it’s all a lot of fun. So having us all together, working with those two — they gratefully what we have joined and it’s been great working with those guys on their journey of making the show and they’re good people — very good actors.
EOIN: Colin and Bradley — what’s actually genuinely great with working on MERLIN is the actors on MERLIN are all of a really high caliber. They’re bringing some great guest stars and so forth like Nathaniel Parker and different people. But the actors on the show are the main — which is Colin and Bradley and Katie — they often support the actors. And Colin and Bradley, in particular, are both brilliant and it is always great working with them. And as people, Colin’s Irish and Irish people are generally great, and Bradley’s British and that’s cool, too. So it’s great working with them.
RUPERT: I think when you first set up on the show, you can see — Colin Morgan and Bradley James — they’re the hardest-working people I’ve met. I know it sounds like we’re sucking up to them, but they generally are brilliant. The show wouldn’t be the same without them. They work that hard and they’re working flat-out for 8 months, and so they make us all raise our game. So they’re two great people to work with.
ADETOMIWA: I guess our interaction with them is — as a group — it’s slightly different, like Bradley is very much sort of just one of the lads and we have a lot of good times with him, and Colin is just like one of the warmest, nicest sort of most generous people you’ll ever meet.
Since you guys are such a diverse group, if you had to assign superlatives to each other, what would they be?
EOIN: I would call Adetomiwa “enigmatic” and “superlative.”
TOM: I would call Rupert — I would call “Baby.”
ADETOMIWA: Tom “Big Guns” Hopper — I think — a good man to have in your corner.
RUPERT: I’d call Eoin “confusing.” [Laughter]
Do you guys think you’ll ever get a love interest or do you think that Arthur will continue to have a monopoly on the only girl in Camelot?
TOM: I was going to say that because I wondered where all the women were. I think Gwen just kind of just got rid of them personally.
ADETOMIWA: Look, I’m sure you know the show is influenced by fan feedback, so if the fans want love interests . . .
EOIN: There should definitely be more sex scenes! [Laughter]
While MERLIN is unlikely to stray too far from its family television roots, it clearly is ramping up the action and stories with the wonderfully game Knights of the Round Table. To see what adventures and challenges lie ahead, be sure to tune in for an all new episode of MERLIN on Friday, January 27th at 10PM on Syfy.
Tiffany Vogt is the Senior West Coast Editor, contributing as a columnist and entertainment reporter to TheTVaddict.com. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).