In a lengthy video interview, Merlin actor Bradley James previews series 5 for American audiences, talks about the Arthurian legends too twisted for the show, and speculates about the possibility of a sixth series.
The interview, which was done with Fanhattan, begins with it a bit of banter about Bradley James’ countless marriage proposals (we added the “countless,” though it’s probably true, he does have a Twitter after all), and he is then asked about whether he’d ever do a Star Wars film. And while his initial response is, “Why not?” he does balk a bit at the prospect of a group of fans even more crazy than the Merlin bunch. But don’t worry, he’d be willing to put up with the crazies for a white lightsaber, so there’s that.
Staying on the topic of crazy fans, James recalls a few times he has been chased down the street, and there are even, “moments that I try to block from my memory, really.” We’d say that’s the cue to stop with the marriage proposals, boys and girls.
They go on to talk about Merlin, from the perspective of an American audience who has not yet watched series 5. James summarises the time jump by saying that Arthur has settled in to his role as king, “everything’s been happy and lovely and nice,” but now Morgana has turned up “all evil and stuff,” which obviously puts a bit of a damper on the joy.
He talks about the return of Mordred, and predicts that a lot of what we’ll see this series will be “unpredictable.” Speaking about Arthur and Gwen, he says that they’re in a good place this year (though James admits that he’d never personally have forgiven her for what she did with Lancelot), and that Arthur would do anything for Guinevere and vice versa.
On Arthur and Merlin, James says, “Strangely enough, I think that’s probably the one relationship which has held on to what it’s always been. It’s a big part of the show, I think a lot of people watch the show for that relationship.” After having been through so much together, “what has changed is the level of respect for each other,” James muses, “but what has remained the same is the banter-ish relationship they have. They entertain each other, effectively. And you know, they’re pretty much best friends.”
He can also confirm that series 5 of Merlin is indeed darker, which means that the show and the characters have grown up, and so has the audience. “And that has allowed the show to become more interesting,” he says, but does admit that, “we’re only going to be able to go so far with the show and the genre it is, in terms of how dark the actual legends go, because they’re twisted.”
Speaking about some of the more twisted Arthurian legends, James refers to some Arthur and Lancelot stories that he deems way too inappropriate for a Saturday night BBC series. But the story doesn’t need to go to those places, James argues, because Merlin works well the way it approaches the legends.
James also speaks about the fight training, and has only good things to say. “I’ve always enjoyed doing it,” he reflects, and explains how they use the fight scenes to tell the story.
Fans should also be excited by the small blooper reel preview James offers, although his comment that, “there’s stuff we saw in the wrap party which we won’t be able to use” because it’s more in “that twisted vein” should break some of your hearts, we’re sure.
When asked how the cast get on outside of filming, James talks about hanging out with the knights, while the “core four” tend to go off on their separate ways.
Going on to preview the guest stars, James previews the return of Lindsey Duncan as Queen Annis and Janet Montgomery as Princess Mithian, as well as Game of Thrones star Liam Cunningham (described as “a good laugh”).
“I will jump at the chance to do some theater,” James admits, although right now he’s really enjoying his break and the chance to sleep in. He also speaks about on-set pranks, although it’s not as fun to re-tell them as to do them at the time, as well as playing tennis in his downtime (and his general love of sports, football especially).
Towards the end of the interview, James also tells the story of the ring he wears on his thumb. “When I was 18, my group of friends put in money for each other’s birthdays,” he starts, and the ring was the present which his friends bought him.
And finally, James weighs in on whether or not he sees a sixth series for Merlin. If it happens, “I would like to see the passion that’s brought us to where we are now, the creativity, I think they’re crucial. The enthusiasm to do it needs to be there, and if the scripts are good, if what they wanna do with the show is good, then I think they’ll find a lot of people jumping on board to do it.” But all he can offer is, “we shall see,” even though series 5 is going well so far.
Merlin series 5 is already in full swing in the U.K., and will premiere on the SyFy channel in America on January 4, 2013.