CliqueClack TV

Colin Morgan on Merlin, movies, and literary magic

Today I got to have a quick chat with Colin Morgan, the actor behind the title character in Merlin, on his thoughts on his character's development, his feelings on Arthurian literature, and how he's spending his filming break.

My inbox is usually a pretty quiet place, but yesterday, everything went nuts. I’d put out some feelers to see if I could get an interview with a member of the Merlin cast before the third season premiered for American audiences (who, unlike me, had the patience to wait instead of shamelessly leeching off my British friends willing to illegally upload it).  I was expecting something along the lines of, “No, it’s Christmas and we’re all too busy”, but what should land in my inbox but news that this week the stars of Merlin are doing all their American press, and how would I feel about a one-on-one interview with Colin Morgan before listening in on a call-in conference call with him and Bradley James together?

If you think I even needed a millisecond before replying with a resounding, all-caps YES PLEASE, you clearly don’t know me very well.

In the interest of time and space, I have not transcribed the entirety of our interview (which included more information on Colin’s new film Parked, his thoughts on the nature of success, and an extension of our nerdy digression into our favorite books about King Arthur), but you can either read most of it (as well as some choice tidbits from the call-in conference) or listen below to the entire thing.

Though I suggest listening. Not for me, I’m kind of boring, but because Colin Morgan has an Irish accent, and it’s all kinds of adorable.

Congratulations on a lot of things. First of all, your two films that are coming out.
Oh, thank you very much!

And Merlin, obviously. You’ve gotten really very successful  in a very short amount of time.
Yeah, it’s been crazy. I feel hugely lucky to have had these opportunities come my way, because obviously they don’t have to. And to work hard on it and get the chance to sort of prove yourself, and to pursue your passion — I mean, for me, acting is a passion and it’s something I’ve wanted to do all my life. And now to get the chance to do that, I feel hugely honored daily, and I’m so grateful for it. And it’s great as well to get some variety with Merlin as well as the other projects coming up.

Yeah, it’s nice to play a junkie [in Parked] and then play a boy wizard on TV.
[laughs] Exactly, yeah! It’s good to get the variety and it’s great because we’ve just had the premiere of Parked [at the Torino Film Festival].

What’s the weirdest part of getting so successful?
It’s weird because, um, successful is a weird word, in a way, because I guess successful kind of implies that I’ve maybe achieved something or reached something.

I think it’s safe to say you’ve achieved something.
Yeah, well, I definitely have. I think acting and the process of it is a constant thing, and I’m always … I think you can always do better, no matter what you do. But in terms of how quickly this has happened and the sort of recognition that comes with doing a TV show and being an actor, it’s just … yeah, it takes a lot of getting used to, and it’s hugely gratifying to see that you spend so much time on a show and spend a lot of work on it, and people have said some lovely, lovely things. And the fans … I just got through a whole chunk of fan letters this week.

There must be a very large backlog.
Oh there was, yeah, I literally sat in my house for three days going through and replying to everybody. There’s quite a few going out to the States there, so hopefully people will be quite happy. I was trying to get it done before Christmas.

Well you’re on a break now,  for the first time in a very long time. So what are you doing this break? Are you catching up on any shows? Because you’ve mentioned you were a fan of True Blood.
Yeah, True Blood is brilliant! I haven’t had a chance to catch up on a lot of TV shows. I’ve watched the first two series of Dexter and I’m dying to get on to the third and the fourth ones at the minute. I love that — I think it’s fantastic. I really want to start watching Fringe — I haven’t seen any of that yet, and I’m really wanting to start to get into that. In terms of free time I’ve been trying to spend a lot of time with family and friends.

What I was wondering is, when you and Bradley were on the roadtrip to Wales, and you missed your chance to get to the library — I was wondering if you ever got a chance to go back there?
Well, it’s funny, the way they film things on the documentary. We did actually get to have a look inside. They like to dramatize these things in documentaries, I don’t know why they do it.

To ratchet up the tension.
Yeah, they just want to make it look dramatic, you know. [laughs] It’s not an episode of Merlin, you don’t need to do that! But yeah, it was great. We got to see inside and got to see a lot of the books, some of them, you know, hundreds of years old. It was just a huge wealth of Arthurian literature, and it’s just amazing that there’s something like that available and open to the public to check it out if they need to. Certainly if there was something available like that near me it would be a great resource. But yeah, it would be a bit of a long drive to go up there every weekend.

You must have seen and read a lot of adaptations of Arthurian literature. So do you have a personal favorite besides Merlin? Because obviously Merlin would be your favorite.
Oh, absolutely. I really like the Mary Stewart trilogy — the first one is called The Crystal Cave, and I think it’s a really, really good book, it’s a really good one worth reading for anyone who’s looking to read a bit more about Arthurian legends. I find the classics quite hard to get into.

They are! They’re really thick.
Yeah, I’m glad I read them, but I probably wouldn’t read them again, you know? But yeah, the Mary Stewart trilogy is worth checking out, for anyone who wants to get into that.

So about the show, I’ve got a few questions for you. We’ve been watching in British time, because I’m a huge fan and I couldn’t wait that long.
Good, good.

I’ve got a few questions about Freya, actually, because we did get to see her in the finale!

So now that’s she’s repaid her debt, is she gone for good? Are we ever going to get to see her again?
I hope so! And I know that Merlin would hope so. It’s in what form she appears. I mean I always want to see Merlin be happy, you know.

Yeah, he doesn’t get that a lot, does he?
No! And when he does, it’s cut very short, and any figures of love or passion in his life are very quickly axed. So certainly for Freya — I mean that was his first love, and it was so curtly ended, and it would be great – it would be fantastic — to have her return. But I have a feeling it would be one of those, I guess, forbidden loves? I imagine there’s some sort of law between her spirit being in the lake and him being a mortal.

It might be a bit of a long-distance relationship.
[laughs] Yeah, I think so! You know, having that lake between them… . but I hope so. I hope there’s something more between them to be explored.

Plus he doesn’t have a lot of time for a relationship, because, you know, Arthur takes up all that time.
Exactly! You know, Merlin’s got a lot on his plate.

Merlin’s kind of Arthur’s wife. He does all his laundry… . Tells him what to do… .
[laughs] Oh, I wouldn’t like to say “wife”, he’s more like his dogsbody. He orders him about like an absolute slave, doesn’t he, not a servant.  But what’s great is you’re seeing their relationship develop more as friends, as time goes on. And although they are master and servant, as such, you’re seeing a friendship there, and a loyalty. And certainly throughout series 3, Merlin becoming a lot more mature towards his attitude towards Arthur’s future and his own future.

Bradley, when I interviewed him in August, he made what I thought was a pretty interesting observation. He said that he thought that Arthur liked Merlin more genuinely, or should get a lot more credit, because he doesn’t know that Merlin’s magic, and he likes him anyways. And Merlin had to know that Arthur was going to be a great king before he liked him.
Yeah, that actually is a very good point! I think it’s that thing, isn’t it, where Merlin is knowing of everything and of what the future holds, and Arthur doesn’t. And the audience, obviously, seeing everything through Merlin’s eyes, they know that also. So everyone in the audience, people watching the show, know that Merlin is Merlin, you know, he’s what the show’s about. But to everyone else,  you know, he’s a servant. And I think it is a testament to Arthur, that he does actually take on board that his servant is actually, you know, pretty decent, sometimes, and can actually say some pretty useful things and, in equal measures, be an idiot as well, in his eyes. But yeah, I think that’s a very good point Bradley made! I’d never thought about that before.

He’s not just really good with his sword! He can think sometimes.
[laughs] He does, yeah!

Conference call tidbits:

  • If Bradley could change one thing about Arthur, it would be to make him be knocked unconscious less. If Colin could change one thing, it would be to have Merlin stop trying to revive Arthur so much.
  • Bradley, if he had to describe Arthur in one word, would describe him as “fabulous”.
  • Colin thinks that so long as Uther is around, Merlin will feel like Arthur might share his views on magic, and won’t tell Arthur his secret. Bradley thinks the solution is obviously to kill Uther off.
  • Bradley says that any comparisons between him and Colin will always make him look worse, since Colin would “make Mother Theresa look like a product of the devil”. (Having spoken to them both, I can tell you this is untrue. Cute, but untrue.)
  • Colin’s favorite Christmas tradition is to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol and and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Bradley’s is to avoid his family.
  • Fellow nerds, I was positive that, when Gaius served Merlin a plate of food at the end of episode eleven that consisted of chicken, a hunk of cheese, and tomatoes, it was an elaborate prank pulled by the props department. I say this because, if you are like me and have listened to the cast commentaries and behind-the-scenes videos, you would have learned that Colin is a lactose-intolerant vegetarian who supposedly is allergic to tomatoes. I say “supposedly” because it turns out he isn’t actually allergic to tomatoes at all. Sorry, guys. I wanted to think it was a sly wink directed at the devoted, too.

Photo Credit: BBC

Categories: | Features | General | Interviews | Merlin | TV Shows |

34 Responses to “Colin Morgan on Merlin, movies, and literary magic”

December 15, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Fantastic interview! I love that Colin likes Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy and Dexter! Great taste he has. :)

Thank you for sharing.

December 15, 2010 at 11:15 AM

He does! It was very hard for me to not pick his brain more on TV and books but alas, I was on a time constraint.

December 15, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Awesome interview. Thank you so much!

December 15, 2010 at 11:21 AM

You’re very welcome! Talking to him was… let’s just say, it wasn’t exactly a hardship.

December 15, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Fantastic job, Julia! I can’t help but gloat over the fact that Colin keeps confirming my “master and man” interpretation of the Arthur-Merlin relationship.

December 15, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Psh! I still say you’re both wrong and it’s a romance, albeit perhaps an emotional one, and not a sexual one. But I will refrain from my rant on the Western tradition of codifying male relationships into certain acceptable non-sexual parameters due to a heritage of internalized homophobia, blah blah blah, I spend too much time reading sociological histories of sexuality in my free time. I’m sure, if you’re interested, I can treat you to my pseudo-intellectualism another time.

December 15, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Ah, well, there are many shades of love – the romantic kind being just one. The bond between master and man can be much stronger and deeper than romantic love. But we’ve already discussed this, so I’ll leave it in the “Agree to Disagree” folder.

December 15, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Colin Morgan. Fantastic. I am waiting for Colin to win Oscar one day. He is JUST such a nice guy, a fabulous actor and a good man in heart.
Thank you so much for posting this.

December 15, 2010 at 12:39 PM

He really is just so sweet and talented – I’ll be rooting for him! And not just because if he makes it big it’ll make me feel cooler for having interviewed him.

December 22, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Colin is very hansom! I thing more than Bradly!

December 15, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Ahh, this interview is great! :D I had to laugh a little bit when you said Merlin was like Arthur’s wife. It’s so true! They bicker like an old married couple. XD

And Bradley said Colin would “make Mother Theresa look like a product of the devil”? Ohh man, those two are just too cute!

December 15, 2010 at 1:41 PM

They do, both on and off-screen. I really hope they get a chance to work with each other besides for Merlin, because their chemistry is just too good.

December 15, 2010 at 3:00 PM

If I remember correctly, in the recent JM interview, the interviewer pointed out that B/C just WORK together. That’s JUST SO TRUE.
They really need to act as lovers (at least for once), maybe in a film or another decent TV series. With their chemistry, they could totally be the ONCE and FUTURE GAY ICON.

December 15, 2010 at 3:48 PM

Such a nice interview! Thank you so much!
And Colin’s accent is indeed all sorts of adorable. Makes me love the guy even more :D

December 15, 2010 at 4:29 PM

The interview is awesome! and thank you very much for transcribe it. It’s hard for me to understand Colin’s accent, cause I don’t speak much English (it’s annoying me!). He’s really nice and cute.. nobody can deny (:

December 15, 2010 at 9:50 PM

No problem! I’m a native and I’m pretty sure I got a word or two wrong myself.

December 15, 2010 at 5:42 PM

Thank you so much for putting up the audio of the interview plus doing the transcript, too. Loved the interview. I thought Colin was wonderful before but he picked my favorite book series and was so enthusiastic about it. It just made me grin like mad.

December 15, 2010 at 9:53 PM

That boy is really into his books! I’m glad you appreciated both – I wanted to transcribe what he said, but how could I not share that accent?

December 15, 2010 at 6:13 PM

What a fantastic interview!! I wish that could’ve been me talking to him xD

But nonetheless, excellent! And like marvelpku, I can TOTALLY see him winning an Oscar or something of that caliber!

December 15, 2010 at 8:13 PM

Thanks for putting this up! He’s too adorable.
I kind of wish he responded to the ‘wife’ comment in a different way, though. Even though you probably didn’t mean it in a homoerotic way, it still seems like he’s still not really accepting of the fact that there are people out there that think there are homosexual undertones to the show. But I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

Also, I was wondering if the conference call is or will be available to listen to.

December 15, 2010 at 9:59 PM

Colin does tend to be a bit more cagey about that, which is why I avoided those questions pretty much completely. I was actually plesantly surprised by how openly he answered that question – I took his answer more as thinking that Arthur treated Merlin way worse than he should treat any wife of his.

I wasn’t originally planning on releasing the conference call, but considering all the requests I may edit it down and post some of the better parts – it’s an hour long and a lot of the questions are repeats, but there are some fun bits fans might enjoy,so we’ll see!

December 16, 2010 at 2:31 AM

That would be amazing! I think the whole fandom will worship you for that :P

December 15, 2010 at 8:51 PM

I always adore your interviews – they’re more like conversations than a series of questions and answers, which is a rare talent. Love that you were able to give him some Arthurian reading recommendations and remind him Bradley isn’t just a pretty face! And Colin is such a lovely man, it’s great to see him doing so well with his career. Thanks! :)

December 15, 2010 at 9:56 PM

I prefer conversation interviews, and I think you get more candid answers. I mean, who wants to be interrogated?

And yes, Bradley is more than just a pretty face. It’s just hard to remember that sometimes because, well, he’s just SO pretty.

December 15, 2010 at 11:21 PM

Now I understand the reason for your interview high this week :) I knew you’d try to fit the bromance in there somewhere :)

December 16, 2010 at 1:50 AM

I’m sure I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. ;)

December 16, 2010 at 4:46 AM

Thank you for the interview! Enjoyed it immensely! I love everyone in Merlin – the funny bits are hilarious and its all predictable! They are all an AWESOME bunch – Can’t wait for next season!

December 16, 2010 at 5:14 AM

Colin and I have the same holiday movie tastes! Although you have to add White Christmas in. It’s a given.

December 16, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Dear Julia, thanks very much for sharing the interview.
You really did a great job! I just love the audio!
That was funny when Colin replied the question about “wife”, lol.
But you got what we want, and that’s why I love your interview!
Looking forward to your next interview with Colin or Bradley!
Btw,I’m a fan of Merlin from China.

December 16, 2010 at 9:37 AM

Thanx very much for sharing the interview!I am from China,I like Merlin very very much!I love Colin Morgan!And I hope Colin will be more famous!

December 16, 2010 at 4:15 PM

Thanks for the great interview. I liked your questions about Freya (although some versions of the Arthurian legend have Merlin and Morgana – Morgan le Fey – getting together!). I also like your wife question about the A/M relationship. Colin seems pleased at the progress of this relationship although most people on this forum would like more progress and faster (more A/M adventures and more A/M time alone to have serious discussions, instead of short 2 minute interludes)!

December 16, 2010 at 8:07 PM

Loved it this interview! So happy for you. Colin is the sweetest!

December 18, 2010 at 4:02 AM

Thanks for sharing, fantastic interview!
And it is so cute that Bradley said Colin would “make Mother Theresa look like a product of the devil”!

January 25, 2011 at 11:56 AM

When Did You Do Season 4 Of This Movie Its GREAT Movie I Want To See Then What’s Happend In Camelot HEHHEH PLS Bring Anyone who Use this Faq A Message i NEED TO Now Colin Morgan You Are THe best And the Others you kNOW

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