Jamie Campbell Bower is currently filming Twilight: Breaking Dawn, returning in the role of Caius, leader of the Volturi Vampires. He made his film debut in Tim Burton’s musical Sweeney Tood opposite Johnny Depp, and last year appeared as Gellert Grinelwald in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 and will return later this year in the franchise’s final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.
In his new Starz series Camelot he portrays the young and impetuous Arthur, heir to the English throne. But his cold and ambitious half sister, Morgan, will fight him, summoning unnatural forces, to claim the crown for herself.
Morgan is played by Eva Green. The French actress gained worldwide recognition with her performance in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven alongside of Orlando Bloom and Jeremy Irons and went on to star opposite Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.
You are playing a very iconic character in Arthur. What does it feel like to be stepping into such a high-profile part?
Jamie Campbell Bower: I approached the part with fear and great trepidation. It’s a part that has been played many times. It’s a part that many people have done well. I was scared about being such a high-profile character within a television show. It’s a very scary prospect, being on television for 10 hours and possibly doing this for an extended period of time.
But what we had in the cast and what we have throughout the show is a great love for one another. So we supported each other. And goodness knows, I needed support because there were times when I just felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and I was nervous. But we all had each other’s back, and Joseph [Fiennes, who plays Merlin] particularly was very helpful in guiding me, like the shining light that he is.
The rivalry between Merlin and Morgan is legendary. How much fun is it to be at Merlin’s throat?
Eva Green: This Camelot is very different. There are so many versions on the myth. In this one Merlin is Morgan’s sworn enemy. Morgan hates Merlin because also he has put Arthur on the throne. But she kind of respects him. She adores toying with him, like a cat with a mouse. We have a lot of taunting and teasing scenes. And it’s just fun.
Their relationship to magic is quite different also. Merlin is kind of world-weary when it comes to magic. He has seen and experienced too much. And for Morgan, magic is new to her, and she’s drawn to it. It’s very exciting. It’s like a drug.
How much magic did you get to do in the series?
Eva: You see people changing shapes, but it’s mainly ancient magic, pagan magic, magic using nature and the forces of nature: air, water, earth, fire. So it’s not Harry Potter. You don’t wave a wand.
How much training did you have to do for this role?
Jamie: Before we started shooting, we had a month of what was officially known as Boot Camp which, being English and middle-class, I was very nervous about doing because we don’t really like to do much physical work.
My conversation with Chris [Chibnall, the Executive Producer and writer of the series] and the other producers was that we find this character when he is a teenager, in his late teens. And what I didn’t want to happen, or what I didn’t want to have, is this beefiness to him because I think that people should be able to see that he’s a boy, that he’s got to grow into this man. And I think that’s something that we can explore as we progress through the series, and hopefully there will be many more to come.
With respect to beefing up or becoming like the guys are in Spartacus, there was a very, very clear idea that he was always going to be this boy and grow and grow and grow. And as we actually carried on filming the series and we did more training and we did more sword fighting, my physique did bulk up. But at the beginning, I very much wanted him to stay fleshy!
We’re seeing a lot of epic stories right now. Does this say something about the times we’re living in?
Jamie: I think behind every story at the moment that’s doing well is a love story. And I think people, particularly with the Camelot story, are fascinated with the relationship between Guinevere and Arthur and also the bizarre, almost sexual chemistry between Morgan and Merlin.
So I don’t know if at the moment it’s something that people are revisiting due to economic times or the stress that they’re under, but I would say that, particularly with this, and with what we’re trying to do, is that underneath it all is that love story. So I think people are generally and genuinely interested in that and just want to be taken away and fall into the arms of lovers.