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Merlin star Alexander Vlahos speaks to Hypable about his role as Malcolm in the upcoming Kenneth Branagh/Rob Ashford production of Macbeth.

Alex Vlahos has been keeping busy since the series finale of Merlin in December 2012.

Since the series wrapped, the actor has been on screen in the BBC miniseries Privates, recorded new episodes of The Confessions of Dorian Gray, and launched several Kickstarter projects.

His current venture is a production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which will be performed at the Manchester International Festival from July 5-20. The play is helmed by Shakespeare veteran Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford, with Branagh also playing the title role.

Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare’s most tragic and haunting plays. It depicts the rise and fall of a troubled Scottish nobleman and his power-hungry wife, who are slowly consumed by their own ambition.

Doctor Who actress Alex Kingston will be taking on the iconic role of Lady Macbeth, while Ray Fearon is playing Macduff. Vlahos will be playing King Duncan (John Shrapnel)’s son, Malcolm, the rightful heir to the throne of Scotland.

If you’re not one of the lucky few who has been able to secure tickets for this coveted performance, don’t worry: National Theatre Live has announced that the play will be screened in cinemas across the globe from July 20.

In this interview, Hypable speaks to Alexander Vlahos about his role in the production, and how Branagh and Ashford are working to put a unique spin on the tried classic.

Also read the first part of our interview with Vlahos, where he discusses Merlin, Dorian Gray and those intriguing Doctor Who rumours.

‘Macbeth’ is ‘exciting and a little bit daunting’

Hypable: Let’s begin by talking about Macbeth because that’s pretty huge and exciting! How did you get involved with it?

Alexander Vlahos: Through the normal way, auditioning and stuff. They got me in for the first round meeting, and it just sort of went from there. I only went in for Malcolm, and I found out within two weeks that I got it. And it’s incredibly exciting… and a little bit daunting.

Even though Malcolm isn’t one of the leads, I imagine you must have spent a lot of time preparing to take on Shakespeare…

Yeah, well, I’ve only ever done four plays since leaving drama school and two of them have been Shakespeare works, so I’ve had a bit of experience with it. I mean, you know, as much as you can, but everyone has a different way of approaching it. The text is so detailed and intrinsic, and Shakespeare gives you this gift on the page, and then it’s about your way of decoding and working your way through it.

Malcolm is an amazing part and he carries such a lot of weight towards the latter half of the play. He sort of goes into hiding for a bit after his dad gets killed, which is about halfway through the play, and then leaves the play and goes into hiding in England. So I get a little bit of a break, which is nice, I get a little hour off stage to sit in my dressing room and chill.

But no, in the last 45 minutes of the play, Malcolm obviously becomes quite integral, as he’s the rightful heir to the throne. So yeah, I’m having lots of fun playing with him, playing around with the character.

Alexander Vlahos in Macbeth

Can you talk about the setting of the play? It’s very unique.

Yeah, the way we’re setting the play is in a church, a deconsecrated church in Manchester. So if you’re doing quite a bloody and blasphemous play in a church, it already has weight behind it. This is an actual church, that – even though it’s deconsecrated – has had countless years, hundreds of years of prayer, in that building. Any time you walk into a godly place or a holy place the walls, you know, you get a sense of history.

And we’re doing Macbeth in this place, so the idea of toying with that, toying with good and evil… And then for me, what’s really interesting is how actually good Malcolm is. How godly he is, what he represents in this play. Cause once Macbeth turns into that evilness, Malcolm is the only hope for Scotland.

So I’m enjoying the idea of him being quite godly and Christian-like in the play, and we’re exploring all that sort of stuff. But no, it’s fun, it’s really fun.

Working with Branagh and Ashford: ‘Intriguing and incredibly rewarding’

What is it like working with Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford as the directing team?

[Laughs] It is… very intriguing, and also incredibly rewarding. I’ve never worked in a play where two people are at the helm, where two people are controlling the work. It’s always only been one person, a male or a female director, so to have two people at the helm is… intriguing, yeah.

When I initially got the part, I was very intrigued by the idea of how that would work in a rehearsal room, having two figureheads in a room and how the balance and the relationship between them two would work… and how that would help us inform us as actors, you know, to collaborate together. But so far it’s been incredibly rewarding, and like I said, very intriguing.

Rob, coming from a choreographer background – also a very good director, but coming from a choreographer background – is working through the blocking and the schematics of the play. Then you’ve got Ken there, who’s a Shakespeare god within himself, and he’s working on the text. And it’s the marriage of the two that seems to be working wonders for all of us, especially for me. Having two people to go to when you’re looking for advice is better than one, you know.

As a ‘Doctor Who’ fan, I imagine you must be excited to work with Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth?

Yeah, working with Alex is a joy, actually. She’s amazing. And from the get-go, seeing Ken and Alex together, the chemistry between them is electric. I remember the first week of rehearsals, the pair of them were completely off book. They’d completely known their lines. No, not even the first week, about the second day, they knew everything!

So the pair of them together, grabbing this play like a bull by the horns and dragging it through to Manchester, are setting the bar extremely high. And expecting everyone to come and meet them, you know, go with them to that level. So it’s amazing to watch.

Unfortunately I don’t have any scenes with her, and I barely have any scenes with Ken. Malcolm seems to be the person that seems to avoid all this. [Laughs] But it’s fascinating to watch, and I try and grab every moment I can in the rehearsal room to watch them together.

The legacy of ‘Macbeth’: It ‘comes with so much baggage’

Lady Macbeth is such an iconic character, too, it’s a great role.

Yeah, definitely. But that’s the thing with Macbeth I guess, and Lady Macbeth… they come with so much baggage, so many preconceived ideas from the audience. People who haven’t even seen Macbeth know about Lady Macbeth, and they know the moment, all the moments in the play.

My mum’s never seen it, but she was like, “Oh god, Lady Macbeth, that’s a good part isn’t it?” It’s that weird thing that comes with doing well-known Shakespeare works is that, like I said, it comes with a preconceived idea.

That’s true! We actually put on ‘Macbeth’ on once at school…

Awesome! And again, it’s funny because Macbeth seems to be one of the plays that get performed at schools a lot, or is a textbook for English Literature or for Drama. Especially over here in England, some school will be doing it for GCSEs or A-Levels, so again people come at it with a textual view of the play, with that baggage thing I was talking to you about, what they think it should be.

It’s such a good play though, it’s one of my favourites.

Is it really? Why?

Well… mainly just because I did it.

Hahaha because you did it, you have no reasons? “No it’s my favourite play because I did it, I was Macduff, deal with it.” [Laughs.] But it’s strange though, to be fair I hadn’t really looked at Macbeth in a joyful way before, I never thought ‘Oh, this is a great play…’

It’s not one of the fun ones, like ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream.’

Yeah. And my favourite plays are Hamlet and Henry V, sort of being the history plays, rather than this. But obviously then doing the work you end up becoming engrossed in what you’re doing and end up caring for all the characters and stuff like that.

Doing musicals ‘would be more work than joy’

So has doing this play whetted your appetite for theatre, or do you see yourself drifting more towards TV and film?

Hmm that’s a tricky one, I don’t know. I think basically my desire for the back of Merlin was to take things slow, I’ve done 10 months of TV work, you know… I think I’ve told you this story before, where I had just finished Privates and started Merlin the weekend after – I had a two-day turnaround after doing two months in Ireland filming Privates, and I literally started Merlin the week after.

And having that from January up until November when we finished Merlin, doing 10 months of television work, I think my head was a bit fried. And people kept asking me, and I did go up for auditions, for big things and things I didn’t particularly like or fancied … but then for this to come around, it seemed right.

But whether to go on from this now and continue to do more theatre, or to go back into telly… I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it. It all depends on what becomes available, you know? Whatever medium you’re working in you sort of get the bite for that particular one, so if you’re working in television you sort of go oh yeah, I’d like to continue working in television, and then if you get a job in theatre you go oh yeah, I’d love to do another play. Does that make any sense?

Yeah, absolutely. Would you ever do musicals?

[Laughs] Ummm… you know what, that was literally the first thing I said to my agent, the agent that’d just signed me when I graduated from drama school, and she said, “Just let me know now if there’s anything you do not want to do,” and I immediately went, “Musicals!” before she’d even finished her sentence. “Musicals, do not put me up for them!”

I mean I enjoy singing, I can sing, it’s just something that… for some reason in my head the filter between doing a musical and acting are massively apart, whereas for some people they’re very close together. Does that make sense? For me, it would be more work than joy, and I do acting because it’s something that I love, it’s something that I enjoy thoroughly. And the thought of doing a musical would be that it’s a lot of work. [Laughs] A lot of extra work.

Finally, tell me about the live streaming of ‘Macbeth’ which was just announced.

Well, we open July 5 with Macbeth, and then we run up until the end of the month. And then it’s gonna be recorded live as part of the National Theatre Live scheme, and it’s going to be shown to a whole load of cinemas around the world. LA, South Africa, France and Germany and the UK and all that sort of stuff, so that’s exciting. A bonus, you know?

Good luck with that!

Thank you!

Read part 1 of our Alexander Vlahos interview for the actor’s thoughts on the Merlin fan base, the next Doctor Who and much more.

Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events will star Neil Patrick Harris in the role of Count Olaf, and on a recent episode of Live! with Kelly, the actor shared many interesting details about the new show.

Anyone who’s looking forward to the book to film adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s wonderful series will no doubt be thrilled to hear what Harris had to say while updating Kelly Ripa on what he’s been up to.

Perhaps most notably, NPH revealed how A Series of Unfortunate Events is being cut up into episodes. So far, the first four books are two episodes each:

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Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events will star Neil Patrick Harris in the role of Count Olaf, and on a recent episode of Live! with Kelly, the actor shared many interesting details about the new show.

Anyone who’s looking forward to the book to film adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s wonderful series will no doubt be thrilled to hear what Harris had to say while updating Kelly Ripa on what he’s been up to.

Perhaps most notably, NPH revealed how A Series of Unfortunate Events is being cut up into episodes. So far, the first four books are two episodes each:

Netflix’s ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ episode count

neil-patrick-harris-series-unfortunate-events-netflix

“They truncated all of the books into a two hour movie,” Harris said of the Unfortunate Events movie starring Jim Carrey, noting that it just wasn’t a great adaptation. “And there’s thirteen books in the series. So [Netflix’s take] is more spread out. Each book is going to be two episodes. We did the first four books, the first eight episodes of the show.”

As for the tone of the show? Great news: “It’s super dark,” he said. “It’s a much darker on the take on the material than has been seen before.”

When Kelly asked Harris if her kids could watch it, the actor dropped some interesting information about Neflix’s plans:

“I hope so!” he replied. “It’s not Rated-R dark. It’s the most expensive show that they’ve ever done. It’s the first one they call a four quadrant show, so they’re try to get four different quadrants to like it. So in addition to being for adults and for 20-somethings and teenagers, they want it to be for kids as well.”

Dark, appealing to all ages, and two episodes per book? We are so down.

Netflix has yet to share a premiere date for A Series of Unfortunate Events, but we’ll keep you posted.

Jessica Jones introduced us to Marvel’s live-action Luke Cage (Mike Colter), who has his own show debuting on Friday. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of time.

The mythology of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is rich and complicated. Not only do you have to remember what’s happened from episode to episode and season to season, it’s also important to keep in mind what’s happened in other shows and movies.

But that’s why we’re here. Looking forward to Luke Cage premiering on September 30? Us too. Having a little trouble remembering what happened in Jessica Jones and not feeling up to rewatching the show from start to finish? No problem.

Read full article

Jessica Jones introduced us to Marvel’s live-action Luke Cage (Mike Colter), who has his own show debuting on Friday. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of time.

The mythology of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is rich and complicated. Not only do you have to remember what’s happened from episode to episode and season to season, it’s also important to keep in mind what’s happened in other shows and movies.

But that’s why we’re here. Looking forward to Luke Cage premiering on September 30? Us too. Having a little trouble remembering what happened in Jessica Jones and not feeling up to rewatching the show from start to finish? No problem.

Everything you need to know about ‘Luke Cage’

The man

luke cage premiere date

We first met Luke in the series premiere of Jessica Jones and he was in the majority of the episodes for the season. He owned a bar in Hell’s Kitchen and made it a priority to stay away from complications. Too bad Jessica Jones is the definition of complicated. Sweet Christmas.

With chemistry pretty much off the charts, it didn’t take long for Luke and Jessica to start hooking up. Unfortunately, between Kilgrave’s manipulations and Jessica’s lies, the situation came to a head and Luke found out it was Jessica who was responsible for his wife’s death way back when Kilgrave was livin’ large with Jessica at his side.

Luke left after that, but not before he ran into Kilgrave with the intention of killing the man. Instead, Kilgrave used his power of mind control to plant Luke back into Jessica’s life and keep an eye on her until it was time for Kilgrave to use his trump card. He even forced Luke to blow up his own bar.

In a final confrontation, where Kilgrave once again played with Jessica’s emotions, Luke said he didn’t forgive her for killing his wife and, under Kilgrave’s power, attacked her until she was forced to put a shotgun to his head and pull the trigger.

Thanks to Luke’s powers, he survived, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t some damage. Luke was unconscious, and Jessica was forced to bring him to the hospital where Claire used her position as a nurse to sneak him back to Jessica’s apartment and keep an eye on him.

By the end of the series, once Kilgrave was killed and Jessica was arrested, Luke recovered from his injuries and left Jessica’s apartment when Claire wasn’t looking.

The myth

luke cage mike colter

Luke Cage’s powers are not unlike Jessica’s, though where they both share a similar level of strength, Luke has the added benefit of unbreakable skin. The experiments he was subjected to didn’t make him completely impervious to injury, as seen when the shotgun blast rattled his brain so much it did some internal damage. Areas like his eyes are also open to injury, if Claire sticking that needle through the socket is any indication.

Luke is also just, you know, a big guy. Is intimidation a supernatural ability? Because if so, this guy has got it in spades. He’s a good fighter and obviously used to dealing with the seedier side of the city, so even without his powers, he’d be good to have in a fight.

Luke Cage from the comics isn’t much different, though his interactions with other superheroes have given him an additional leg up. For instance, Iron Fist has taught Luke Cage additional fighting techniques, but we haven’t seen that in the MCU since Iron Fist has yet to debut on Netflix and it’s uncertain what their interactions will be like.

Apparently Luke also has a sweet jacket that’s as impervious as his skin. Given all the clothes we see him go through in the trailers for the upcoming season, perhaps we’ll see him gain a useful item like this in the upcoming freshman run.

The legend

luke cage clip

Luke Cage is already making a name for himself by the end of Jessica Jones, and it’s clear that season 1 of his own show is only going to further his story as a legendary hero. If you want to avoid spoilers at all costs, skip this section. If you’d like to get familiar with some of the show’s upcoming new characters, read on.

In Luke Cage season 1, it’s clear that Cornell Stokes/Cottonmouth will be to Luke as Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin was to Matt Murdock’s Daredevil. This is the guy who wears the crown around Harlem (where Luke has recently moved following his interactions with Jessica), and it’s pretty clear Stokes took no time in pissing off Luke.

Mariah Dillard will be an enemy of a different variety, as she’s a powerful local politician who also happens to be Stokes’ cousin. From the trailers it looks like the two are in business together, but the relationship is contentious at best. Alvarez/Shades, an associate of Cottonmouth, is also going to cause some problems for Luke.

On the other side of the line you have Misty Knight, a police detective who has Luke Cage on her radar. She might also be causing some problems for our hero, but she’s definitely one of the good guys. Her partner is Rafael Scarfe.

Claire will also be returning, this time in a starring role, so the hope is we’ll be seeing plenty of the nurse who is heroic in her own way. She might not have supernatural abilities, but she heals who she can, despite their various complications. She’s also there to light a fire up under the asses of heroes who might be losing their way — and she’s very good at her job.

Everyone’s favorite crook, Turk, will also be showing up in Luke Cage, as will Claire’s mother, Soledad. You can also expect Willis Stryker/Diamondback to play a part this season. He’s tied up with Cottonmouth and Shades and definitely has something against Luke. In the comics, they go way back, and Stryker even had a thing for Luke’s wife, Reva.

Here’s the latest trailer for ‘Luke Cage’ season 1

‘Luke Cage’ season 1 will be exclusively available to stream on Netflix come September 30

Once Upon a Time season 6 will see Sean Maguire’s Robin Hood at least one more time! Come on, is anyone ever really gone for good on this show?

Remember when Hook died, but he really didn’t? Remember when Neal died, but we got see him again in limbo between reality and the Underworld? Well, Robin Hood is following a similar Once Upon a Time narrative arc as EW confirms that the outlaw will return in season 6.

Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis confirmed the news saying, “We’re thrilled to have Sean back for this story arc and are excited for the audience to see what we have planned, which in the wake of his character’s heartbreaking demise, is something we hope is unexpected and surprising.”

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Once Upon a Time season 6 will see Sean Maguire’s Robin Hood at least one more time! Come on, is anyone ever really gone for good on this show?

Remember when Hook died, but he really didn’t? Remember when Neal died, but we got see him again in limbo between reality and the Underworld? Well, Robin Hood is following a similar Once Upon a Time narrative arc as EW confirms that the outlaw will return in season 6.

Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis confirmed the news saying, “We’re thrilled to have Sean back for this story arc and are excited for the audience to see what we have planned, which in the wake of his character’s heartbreaking demise, is something we hope is unexpected and surprising.”

Bringing back characters is one of the major reasons why characters on this show can never have closure. In the aftermath of season 5’s most remarkable death, Once Upon a Time took the necessary steps to give Regina closure. In Neal’s apartment (once again, reviving Neal’s presence for Emma), Regina began to process the reality of her life through a letter from Robin.

Once Upon a Time season 5 regina robin

Kitsis makes note that Regina’s course of action this season will deal with processing her grief. “I can tell you that a lot of this year is about Regina dealing with loss and moving on, because I think Regina has the most unfair luck of anybody, but that’s what makes her Regina,” says Kitsis.

We already caught some of that in the season 6 opener where Regina talks with Snow White about her character’s story and its various interpretations. If the feather floating away from Regina on the bench was a nod to her finding the strength to let go even a little bit, what will Robin’s return mean for her mentally? Regina needs all her faculties to face the most terrifying adversary this season– herself.

What will Robin’s return look like?

Maybe he will appear Jiminy Cricket style and remind her of her best qualities as she faces the Evil Queen. Or perhaps he will appear to save his daughter through some kind of intrinsic bond that exists between them? Maybe that feather actually means a bit more than we give it credit for!

Once Upon a Time season 5 episode 100 review regina robin henry

Kitsis and Horowitz note that Sean Maguire will have “an arc” meaning it is likely that he will appear in more than one episode.

What are some of your theories for Robin’s involvement in season 6? Let us know in comments!

Once Upon a Time season 6, episode 2, “A Bitter Draught,” airs Sunday, October 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC.