Amazon Prime’s new drama Carnival Row is set in a Victorian fantasy world. It is filled with mythological immigrant creatures whose exotic homelands have been invaded by humans. Many are sent to the Burgue, living in the immigrant ghetto called Carnival Row.
Orlando Bloom portrays human detective Rycroft Philostrate, and Cara Delevingne plays refugee fairy, Vignette Stonemoss, who reignite a dangerous affair, in the increasingly intolerant society. They are also trying to solve a series of murders that are plaguing the immigrant population.
The series, which was created by Travis Beacham, premieres on August 30th and has already been renewed for a second season. Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne came to the TV Critics tours to talk about their new project.
Defining Carnival Row Characters
Were you able to have a role in crafting the characters for yourselves?
Orlando Bloom: Yeah, absolutely. For me, that was one of the exciting things about entering the TV space [with Carnival Row]. When I first had a conversation with Travis, it was about just that. There was so much potential within how he was envisioning the character. It hadn’t at that time felt fully realized.
The first time Cara’s name (was) mentioned, I couldn’t see anybody but (her) in the role. I think it really fit your character so well, didn’t it?
Cara Delevingne: Yeah. One thing about Travis that he really got about Vignette, which I didn’t have to do at all, was the fire. It was the fire that drew me to her; it was the fire that ignited my fire for her.
Cara: It was more down to the little things, like the accent, the look and how much compassion and sensitivity (she has). It’s quite hard to play a character that is so strong, but not ruthless.
You’re playing a character that literally has gone through so much, and yet is still so compassionate and empathetic. It’s trying to find that and make it as real as possible.
Was there any consideration about not making it quite so sexy, so children could watch as well?
Cara: The subject matter is so serious and very real; it’s death and violence. So, if you miss the sexy element then where’s the light at all?
(The sex) is very necessary to the storylines. And it’s not objectifying at all. It’s beautiful and it’s amazing. I think it’s an important element to it.
Orlando: It’s those fay (non-humans) and the fairies that are servicing the Burgueish men, soldiers, police, whoever, in the Tetterby Hotel, which is for all intents and purposes our brothel.
That’s what they’re doing to support their families (and) their lives. That’s tragic, and it’s true, and it happens in the world today.
Cara: But also, the whole idea of the tragedy is also behind the fact that, yes, they’ve had to maybe take that job because they’ve been taken to The Burgue, but at the end of the day they also don’t mind. They think it’s stupid that the Burgueishmen pay for sex.
So, it’s actually more of a liberating thing. There’s a whole element to it.
Orlando: There’s a whole conversation to be had around it.
Cara: Yeah, exactly.
Was your mind on what is happening with migrants today when you filmed this?
Cara: That’s the whole fire behind the show. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we’re doing it.
Orlando: That’s what we’re so excited about.
Cara: And it’s definitely controversial.
Orlando: And because it’s a fantasy world you can really look at it objectively. You can pick a side. You can see where you stand.
It really looks the fear that people have. I think there’s so much fear in the world today about the idea of refugees, migrants coming into society. What are they gonna do to our society? How are they gonna take jobs, drugs, thieving, whatever the preconceived notion is?
Cara: But I also think that fear is always based on government.
Orlando: And we look at it from the government perspective, as well.
When we go to our Burgueish Parliament, it’s addressed there. And then, it’s addressed in the street. And whilst it’s a fantasy world, and these characters are fantastical, it’s so human, it’s so real. It’s so tangible you (have to) get the message. And that’s the gift.
As a Brit growing up in London, it was like a melting pot. It’s different today than it used to be even ten years ago. The Burgue is like London or any big European city. It’s really interesting, because you have your take on the race and migrant issue from America, but you’re playing it out on what feels like a European stage.
Cara, did you get used to wearing the wings?
Cara: I’d recommend wings to anyone if you could really get them. I think it’s anyone’s dream to fly generally, even if you’re hung up on wires. I would recommend being a fairy. It’s a great thing to be.
Carnival Row Past relationships
Can you talk about the past relationship your characters have and how does the series go into it? Do you do flashbacks?
Cara: (Their relationship starts) in Tirnanoc. I think that it really helps the story so much when you’re trying to understand the fay.
Orlando: Philo was institutionalized. He was at a boarding school, then he was in the army and then he becomes a police officer. He serves for the Burgueish Army in Tirnanoc.
Cara: But he’s always been nicer than others.
Orlando: I was an orphan.
Cara: He’s psycho.
Orlando: But that will create a lot of the craziness.
That’s where we meet. And it’s not supposed to happen, a human and a fay. But we make a connection.
Cara: Usually, it’s meant to be just they have sex and that’s it. But they really bonded.
Orlando: It’s an experience that a Burgueish man wants to have with fay; this idea of making love and being elevated into the sky. It’s an image that plays through the show. It’s pretty dramatic.
Orlando Bloom Soundbyte
It was announced that Amazon Prime will be doing a series on Lord of the Rings. Orlando was asked if he would be participating in it. Click here for his amusing response.