While he’s deep in filming on Merlin in either Wales or France, series star Colin Morgan finds it weird in general that people in other countries are watching the show that has become a hit in Great Britain, especially as he’s filming the third season. “People are asking you about series one even – in some countries, it’s only starting to air. You just have to cast your mind back a bit,” Morgan says with a laugh. “Bizarrely, a lot of it seems to stick in my head, which is a bit worrying. I’ll have to empty that recycling bin at some point!” That said, Morgan is loving the fact that his magical series has gone global. For us, the end of the second season is nigh, with the penultimate episode airing Friday night on Syfy and the season finale next week. And they’re going to be big ones for Morgan’s Merlin, with a twist involving Morgana (Katie McGrath), the coming of the deadly Knights of Medhir, and Merlin’s alliance with a dragon voiced by John Hurt. Read below for Morgan’s thoughts on the last two episodes of this season, plus check out a clip below from this Friday’s hour, “The Fires of Idirsholas,” featuring him and Bradley James (who plays Arthur) vs. those pesky Knights. (And click here for an exclusive “Secrets & Magic” special with a behind-the-scenes look at last week’s episode.)
Photos courtesy of Fremantle Media
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How important are these next two episodes in leading into the third season that you’re now filming?
Hugely important. The final two episodes directly affect what happens in the third series. There’s a huge change in the Morgana character – we learn about a betrayal that she sets in motion, and Merlin becomes aware of. He’s faced with an extremely difficult decision — as he often is — but this one in particular involves morals and friendship, those kind of things which personally affect him emotionally. There are some big thing happenings. In [Friday’s episode], he does something that drastically changes the future of everyone, and that then also directly affects what happens in the final episode. Again, Merlin’s faced with another problem, whether he should set the dragon free or not, and what implications that will have. The final two episodes will change everything.
Do you enjoy the dragon stuff? I’m sure there are lots of computer graphics involved.
Yeah. Unfortunately, all the dragon actors are unavailable at the moment, so they have to green-screen one in. [Laughs] All the dragon scenes I’ve got are physically looking at a dot or often some kind of cross. Sometimes I make up my own eye line on a big green screen, and that’s really all I’m talking to, with the voice of John Hurt being played. So I actually get his dialogue, which is recorded in a studio in London. So at least I’ve got that – you can’t ask for a better voice to be playing against, really.
How much does something like that, where you have to act against a green screen or a wall, really test you as an actor?
It really does test you because it involves your imagination and creating things in your mind that aren’t there. What could it possibly be like to speak to a 30-foot dragon? The answer I’ve kind of come up with is, if you’re acting against something as big and fantastical as that, you can’t really be too big yourself. You can really just go for it, and not be embarrassed or think you’re looking silly doing it. You have to absolutely 100% believe in it. That’s how I approach those scenes where I’m either being chased by something or attacked by something or talking to something that isn’t there.
Are you a fan of entertainment involving dragons and other fantasy stuff?
I do love the fact that Merlin is genre – it’s something I’ve always been into. I’ve always loved Terry Pratchett books, and I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with escapism – watching worlds that don’t exist and wondering what it’s like to live in them. The genre seems to be in, with shows like Heroes and other things that are a departure from reality. I do enjoy watching shows like that. But similarly, one of my favorite series is Six Feet Under, so you can’t get really further apart. [Laughs]
Any special guest stars in the third series that you won’t get into trouble for talking about?
I’ll probably get whipped for it later, but I’ll be fine. [Laughs] Fans of the Harry Potter films will see a few familiar faces. One of the great people who we just had recently was Miriam Margolyes, who features as Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films, and she is just an absolute blast. That’s an episode in the third series, the sixth, to look forward to. And one I’m really excited about, and he hasn’t been in yet, is Warwick Davis. I’m a huge fan of Willow from growing up, and he’s featured in Harry Potter. I do know that Lancelot [played by Santiago Cabrera] is coming back as well. We’ve been so lucky we’ve had people who want to be a part of the show, and we’re always excited about that.