Merlin star, Colin Morgan, has talked to SFX about the upcoming Merlin series 4.
SFX: So are we about
It's immediately clear it's going to be a lot darker... Okay, every year we say it's growing darker! But I genuinely feel this is us becoming grown-ups ourselves. Those ties that were holding us back as characters are now being cut away and you've got everybody progressing towards those places that were set out for them in the legends. And for Merlin himself that means big changes around him. Where does he fit into them? Well, he's never fitted in! And that's a big theme of the series. We've filmed nine of the episodes so far and he seems to really be in a lost place, scrabbling to hold on.
SFX: Has everybody in the Camelot "Scooby Gang" had to change?
At the very beginning everybody was very close, everybody was together. But things have changed, particularly because of Morgana. Now in this fourth series, in which you get the feeling that a whole year has passed in between, a lot has changed. You forget that they were all good mates. But Merlin is still a servant-in this age that we're working in, status and your place in the court says a lot about who you are. Even people like Gwen are very much now becoming more privileged. In terms of status there are barriers up now.
SFX: And Merlin and Arthur? That's the key relationship, so how much does the tone impact on that?
Hugely - the writers have been playing with The Madness Of King George for the feel of the new series regarding Uther. When somebodu is incapable of doing their job and being the king, who takes over? That's Arthur's new role. There's a new villian this series in the form of Agravain, Arthur's uncle, who is not as he seems (I'm not giving away anything by saying that!). What's upsetting for Merlin is that family bonds seem to overrule friendship; regardless of what he's done for Arthur and what they've been throught together, family seems to overpower all of that. So I've played a lot of scenes where Merlin is calling on friendship, looking at things from the heart, and it's not clicking. That's a big thing for Merlin to try to overcome.
SFX: We saw "Old Merlin" last series and the rumour is you're playing "Emrys" a lot more this year.
Yes, he's appearing quite regularly. Morgana knows her doom is Emrys but she doesn't know who that is- that's a big theme in this series, she wants to get this guy. Little does she know that it's me!
SFX: How much of a challenge is that for you as an actor?
It's a brilliant experience because I'm not exactly playing an old man, I'm playing how Merlin thinks an old man would react. The character can pretty much say what he wants around people and they genuinely won't question him on it - he's an angry old man with a stick! Being in the old make-up forces you to hold yourself differently. We put aside two hours to do a read-through one afternoon during filming and I was still in my Emrys make-up. I was convinced I was reading all my lines as normal but the others told me I was speaking and acting very differently. It just makes you feel like that.
SFX: Are you getting used to the technical challenges of it?
Last year it took about 5hours to gat all the make-up on, but now we're donw to about 3 and a half. It's amazing to see the detail these make-up guys go into. People still come up to me and go, "But that's your real nose, isn't it?" And I'd say, "Nope!" It's knackering, though, by the end of the day, because it comes right down over my shoulders. At first it was unnerving to see myself as an old man... I'm used to it, but even now I'll sometimes just catch myself in the mirror and think "Whoa!"