During New York Comic Con 2022 we were fortunate to chat with part of the cast and showrunners of the HBO Max and BBC smash hit His Dark Materials before the final season.

Amir Wilson as Will Parry

Amir Wilson

THS: What’s it like for you to portray the relationship between your character Will and Lyra?

AW: As far as Lyra and Will are concerned, they are just friends. But everyone else can see it except for them, it’s fun.

THS: What’s it like growing up on set?

AW: It’s been cool! Except when I realized I’m not on child hours anymore, they could work me as much as they wanted. Plus, it’s wonderful as it is building this family with these people it was just as hard leaving them.

THS: Will has had the weight of the universe on his shoulders. How is that for you as an actor and how do you blow off steam after those heavy scenes?

AW: Will’s story is personal to me, it’s helped me grow as a person. After those long days on set, I went rock climbing and still do its a great escape from everything.

THS: Were you able to keep the Subtle Knife?

AW: Yes, in fact I was gifted one at the wrap party in a nice glass case… but I already dropped it and have to super glue a bit back on. Dafne [Keen] and I nicked a few props from the first scene of Asriel’s bunker too.

Executive Producers: Dan McCulloch and Jane Tranter

Showrunners Dan McCulloch & Jane Tranter

THS: How do you balance the heavy themes of the books with the fact that you have children in the show?

JT: In general, in most fantasy series the kids are portrayed like adults. We tried to keep Lyra and Will as kids. We always tried to keep the show grounded because the kids are at the heart of it.

THS: What are the difficulties picking and choosing what to leave in or leave out from the books?

DM: WE work closely with the writers, the set designers, producers, VFX teams, and the directors to make sure that we give the best portrayal of the books, like the first scene of a girl on a roof. How do we make it similar but different? Oh, we throw in a Zeppelin.

THS: You’ve said that THE AMBER SPYGLASS would be the hardest book to adapt. What were some of the challenges you had?

JT: I think it’s one of the hardest because it has so many questions that have to be answered. It is difficult from a practical point of view as Lyra and Will are going through many worlds. Also, getting the tone of things now having the angels in the mix alongside us influencing things. It was a challenge but also the privilege of a lifetime.

THS: Were there any things from the books that you wish you could have drawn out further from the books?

DM: I think we could have gone further with the Gallivespians, Pullman gives you the depth of the detail and that was our strength. The determent was finding the time to do it justice. We were careful where to add and do things. I think we weren’t able to add in an element of the Mulefa world, which was the Tualapi. We thought it was a kind of repeated story and it had a beast element that we couldn’t justify.

THS: With such an extraordinary series, how hard is it to keep that human element in it?

JT: I think that was what drew us to it. We always talked about making grounded fantasy. So when we got into high fantasy, we made sure we concentrated on the emotional and human condition. But on the other hand, when we have the emotional nature of the human condition, give it some fantasy. How can you not when the daemons are part of those conversations?

DM: Jane assembled a team of people that moved their lives and would remind us about the book and remind us of what’s important.

James McAvoy as Lord Asriel

James McAvoy

THS: What can you tell us about Lord Asriel’s journey up to the new season?

JM: He’s pretty much the same guy you saw in season one and briefly in season two. He’s driven, focused, and completely certain that he is right. That his goal to overthrow The Authority and break the manacles of oppression of the human spirit is the right thing to do. Also, any act he has to do is justifiable. Killing, lying, cheating, stealing, it’s all okay.

This guy who ignored being a father and partner has to go through his own crucible. Which is going to challenge himself and his ego in his center of the universe. He has some questions about fatherhood and how that can play into his decisions down the road.

THS: Would you consider your character an Antihero or an Antagonist in his own lane?

JM: He’s definitely an antagonist! Which is difficult. In the format of TV, you want him to fall into the format of being one of the protagonists. We had to keep reminding ourselves, he’s not a good guy. He’s maybe not a bad guy, he’s a good guy that does some really bad things that make it difficult for the good guys. It’s an interesting role and line to straddle, which makes it more fun. The more we embraced that, the more we start to formulate how his story was going to go. [Author Philip] Pullman only eluded to Coulter and his relationship, so we had to flesh it out on screen.

THS: How does it feel to be a part of everything here in season 3?

JM: Honestly, as much as I did two things in the first two seasons, they are some of my favorite scenes. Plus because of Covid, there was planned a focus episode on Lord Asriel, but that got scrapped. So after all this talk about the “War in Heaven”, finally getting to show you what it looks like, and it is GREAT!

About His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials seasons one and two are available to stream on HBO Max. Season 3 premieres on December 5th with two episodes, continuing to air two episodes a week until the finale on December 26th.

We can’t tell you how fantastic this series is and highly recommend you start your binge ASAP!

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