Fans of HBO’s “Rome” and epic, lush, well-produced period dramas have a lot to look forward to from Starz, coming in 2011.
The 10 episode Irish-Canadian production of “Camelot” will take a fresh approach to the classic King Arthur story, and the filming is at Ardmore studios, where “The Tudors” and classic film“Excalibur” where both shot.
Yesterday at the last day of the Television Critics Association press tour meeting in Beverly Hills, Starz presented “Camelot’s” star Joseph Fiennes and showrunner Chris Chibnall, piped in via satellite from Ireland to talk about this opulent, star-studded series.
Monsters and Critics noticed James Purefoy in the clip and asked Mr. Chibnall about Purefoy. Mr. Chibnall confirmed to the TCA that that indeed was James Purefoy as King Lot, described by Mr. Chibnall “as one of the most fearsome villains I’ve ever seen on television and film for a while.”
Fans of Rome remember Mr. Purefoy, called “James Pure Joy” by both Fiennes and Chibnall during the press conference, as Mark Antony, the lover of Atia of the Julii (Polly Walker) who fell for Cleopatra (Lyndsey Marshal), and wound up becoming an enemy of Rome.
Mr. Purefoy is set to add a great deal of interest to a cast that includes Clive Standen as Gawain, Jamie Campbell Bower as King Arthur, Tamsin Egerton as Queen Guinevere, Joseph Fiennes as Merlin, Claire Forlani as Queen Igraine, Eva Green as Morgana le Fey and Peter Mooney as Kay.
Mr. Chibnall added that Vincent Regan, Sinéad Cusack and Sebastian Koch are cast in the ensemble as well.
The promotional clip shown at the TCA’s was richly saturated, earthy, more realisitic than “Spartacus” and looked more like a feature film than a TV production, and Monsters and Critics asked Mr. Chibnall about the cinematography.
“What we want here is something filmic. We want something with huge cinematic ambition. I hope the promo gives you a sense of that. Our DP is Joel Ransom, who was the DP on ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and ‘Caprica.’ He also did ‘Band of Brothers.’ He is one of the great DP’s in the business, and he has given this a real palette. We want the richness and vibrancy, and we want a sense of reality to it as well.” Mr. Chibnall added, “We have a great roster of directors as well.”
As for the tone of this Arthur, Mr. Chibnall described it as unlike anything ever seen of the popular legend, and said: “This is an adult drama; I think the great and amazing thing about Camelot is you can talk about political pursuits. You can talk about great agendas. You can talk about a King bringing hope to a turbulent kingdom. But the extraordinary thing in all the versions of Camelot and Arthurian legend is it is all about the romance. It’s all about the passion. It’s all about great ideals compromised by falling in love with the wrong person and great passions conflicting with…”
Joseph Fiennes finished his sentence: “Sex gets in the way a lot, right?”
“That’s absolutely true,” finished Mr. Chibnall.
As for Fiennes approach to Merlin, the sorcerer who mentors Arthur? “He is more of a warrior monk and less of a Zen Obi-Wan Gandalf, I think there’s a duality with Merlin…he fights fire with fire; he drives out a nail with another nail. He doesn’t turn the other cheek. I don’t think Merlin is a villain, but he is far from driven snow. I think he is full of Machiavellian machinations…there’s an element of Willy Wonka, Donald Rumsfeld and Obi-Wan to him.”