Acting With Daemons is Like 3D Chess: The Cast of His Dark Materials at SDCC!

The cast, writer, and producer of His Dark Materials were at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about the upcoming show after dropping their second trailer, and were happy to answer questions ranging from fun times on set to daemon actors to their love of Pullman’s books in Hall H. Here are a few highlights! (Hint: season two has already been ordered!)

Jack Thorne, the screenwriter (who also did the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) compared adapting material of this popularity and quality to doing a PhD on the original work and the author. Apparently, when he was on airplanes with Ruth Wilson (Mrs Coulter), he’d hand her bit of the scripts as he wrote, and she would give him notes on what she was reading. The whole atmosphere sounds incredibly collaborative, and they have already been given a greenlight for season two.

Apparently there were puppeteer actors on set doing the work of the daemons so that the actors would have something to work off of. Wilson said a man named Brian played her monkey. Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lee Scoresby) compared it to playing 3D chess, because all the scenes involved acting and reading one another, but also reading the daemons for motivations.

Most of the cast were fans of the books before signing on. Miranda heard the title and immediately shouted “yes!”, and James McAvoy (playing Lord Asriel) was cast literally the week they started shooting. He agreed immediately because he loves the story so much: “I’m a total softie in many ways but it’s great fun to play someone who looks at the world and says, ‘I don’t like this, I’m gonna change it, I’m going to rip it down and nothing’s going to get in my way.'” He also noted that the moment Asriel’s daemon settled into a snow leopard he must have realized what a baddass he was, but also that it forced him to play the character more emotionally closed off since leopards are solitary predators.

Dafne Keen (Lyra) was fairly new to the material, however, seeing as the book came out before she was born. She went into great detail about how Lyra spends all of her time absorbing the influence of those around, both for what to do and what not to do.

Miranda said that he had to film a 3-day bar fight scene, and the crew told him he’d get a vacation after. “I’m here being a cowboy who flies and air balloon and gets into barfights, this is the vacation,” said Miranda. When asked if their were fun moments on set, he admitted that his first scene is him singing a duet with his daemon. So, you know. We can all get ready to die from that.

His Dark Materials is coming.

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