Iain De Caestecker On Playing Arthur in ITVX’s The Winter King – Interview
Stream all episodes of The Winter King on ITVX
Tomorrow ( 21 December), ITVX will launch every episode of The Winter King, a thrilling new historical series that debuted stateside in the summer. Situating us in the British Dark Ages, it’s a retelling of Arthurian legends based on Bernard Cornwell’s acclaimed series of novels, The Warlord Chonicles. We follow Arthur Pendragon (payed by Iain de Caestecker), a banished warlord who returns to Britain while Saxons invade and a child-king sits unprotected on the throne. We sat down with Iain De Caestecker to get the inside scoop.
Interview: Iain De Caestecker On The Winter King
Hi Iain, how’s life going at the moment?
It’s going well, thank you! Although whenever I’m asked that, I feel the slight urge to over evaluate. Is it actually? Yes, I think so…
You’re about to appear in The Winter King on ITVX – can you give us an elevator pitch for the show?
The Winter King is a fresh, new, grounded and human version of the famous Arthurian legend. It’s about the quest for unity and peace in a deeply fractured dark ages era Britain.
You play King Arthur – how would you describe him?
Arthur is a natural born and duty-bound leader and, while he is a new breed of warrior that is renowned in battle and war, his first motivation is always peace and democracy. So I think he is an admirable brand of leader who is genuinely in it for the great good. He believes in real, meaningful change and a better way of doing things. However, I would say that he can also be extremely hardline in his beliefs and devotion to the cause. He is willing to make decisions that come with huge sacrifices and personal costs, not only to himself but to the people around him who he loves.
How does your Arthur differ from the King Arthur who know from the legends?
The very cool thing about this new retelling of the legend is that it is a much more human and grounded take on the characters and that world There is still fantasy involved, but we’ve tried to root everything in reality as much as possible. I think with Arthur, in The Winter King, we get to see the warrior but also the politician. We get to see the pragmatic leader but also the real man behind closed doors. That’s what I find extra fascinating; being able to see him behind closed doors and getting to view a more relatable side of him. We get to understand the mental and physical human toll that being a leader for good takes on someone, especially heightened by the brutal nature of the dark ages era where decisions are literally life or death.
What did you think of Arthurian legends before being cast in The Winter King? And how has your perspective changed?
I guess a lot of my memories are from the cartoons (which are really enjoyable) but when exploring The Winter King, I became much more interested in the real-world implications of the story and how high the stakes can be.
What was it like playing King Arthur?
It’s such a cool character that I never would have thought I’d have the opportunity to be able to step into, so I’ve been enjoying every step of it.
How did you get into character/prepare for the role?
So much of that work is done for you with the amazing costumes, make-up and immersive sets. One of the coolest parts about acting is having to try your hand at different things that you might not take the chance to do in real life. I would say horse-riding was a special new skill to discover. I had an amazing and stoic horse called Shovel, who was very kind and patient with me. I genuinely took a lot of inspiration from him.
Any funny stories from rehearsals or filming?
Shovel would enjoy breaking wind at the most inappropriate moments. Nothing brings you down to earth quicker than Shovel letting one rip during an impassioned speech.
What is the cast dynamic? Who was your fave person to work with?
It was perhaps the best part of it! The cast and crew all got on like a house on fire which was lucky as there were lots of cold, muddy days and nights in fields in the middle of Wales. That wouldn’t have been survivable without finding a way to amuse each other! Fave person to work with, apart from Shovel, I would say I have a special place for Ken Nwosu and Matt Mella, who play Sagramor and Lanval; two of Arthur’s best friends.
Are you still in touch with any of your co-stars?
We have a pretty active group chat still going strong.
You’ve also starred in the likes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Control Room, but what has been your favourite project to date?
It’s so difficult to pick one. The Fades has a special place in my heart. It was one of my first roles and it was also directed by the remarkable Farren Blackburn, who I was lucky enough to be reunited with on The Winter King!
Any roles in the pipeline that you’re excited about? (If you’re allowed to tell us!)
Yep, but shouldn’t say just yet…
Who has been your favourite actor to work wit in the past?
Again, really hard to pick one. Someone who I spent more time acting alongside than anyone else is Elizabeth Henstridge. She is a proper pro and it also helps that she is the loveliest person I’ve ever met, so I’d have to go for her.
Which co-star did you learn the most from?
I think I could have sat and watched Hugh Laurie all day. He was just effortlessly good.
What’s your dream role?
Rather than dream role, there’s probably lots of people I’d love to work with and the list would be too long. I’ve been writing with my best mate Nick Blood and would love to do something together with him especially.
What’s a genre you’d like to do more of?
Comedy! It’s so much fun and nice to go home at the end of the day with a belly full of laughs. It’s basically laugh yoga.
Do you get to spend much time at home?
Yeah! Filming is usually coupled with periods of downtime and I’m a bit of a homebody…
Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?
I live in the city and always have, but I do think the older I get, being in the country becomes more and more attractive. One of my brothers lives on the Isle of Arran, off the west coast of Scotland, so I go there a lot and I love how peaceful it is. There’s also something about being in the country that feels like a holiday!
What’s your interior design style?
I’m definitely into Scandinavian style and also Japanese design. I like vintage furniture a lot. I’m a big fan of wood – that’ll be on my gravestone.
How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?
I think I do now more than ever. When I was younger, work took precedent over most things, but I’m not that way anymore. I still take it seriously, but there are more important things in life.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
Get a haircut.
How can we all live a little bit better?
I broke my phone recently and stayed without it for a month. I definitely learned it’s better not to have it around so much. So going for a nice walk without your phone is a good one.
Anything fun in the pipeline – professionally or personally?
I can’t wait to spend Christmas with my nieces.
I’m currently watching... Rewatching The Thick Of It.
What I’m reading… Some short stories by Michael Faber
The last thing I watched (and loved) was… Anatomy Of A Fall
What I’m most looking forward to seeing… KIllers Of The Flower Moon
Favourite film of all time… I can’t pick just one… But I like My Name Is Joe lots and lots.
Favourite song of all time… Impossible Question.
Band/singer I always have on repeat… Radiohead
My ultimate cultural recommendation… I travelled India a little when I was about 21 and it blew my mind.
Cultural guilty pleasure… McDonalds?
What’s next for me is… Dinner… McDonalds?
Watch Iain De Caestecker in The Winter King. Stream every episode from 21 December on ITVX
Original article at Country & Town House.
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