For decades now, most people would’ve heard the story of Arthur, Merlin, and the legendary Excalibur, told in many different ways. In most iterations, it’s always Arthur who’s able to wield the sword and use it to its full power. What if this time, though, the sword chooses a woman?
She is our warrior. ⚔️ Get ready to see Katherine Langford slay in Cursed, coming this July 17 ????Posted by Netflix on Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Netflix’s upcoming fantasy series Cursed asks this very question as it puts the spotlight on Nimue, the so-called “Lady of the Lake”. It follows the heroine as she goes on a quest to deliver an ancient sword to Merlin. As she comes to terms with her destiny, she becomes the face of the rebellion against the Red Paladins and King Uther.
Ahead the show’s premiere this July 17, we got to join Katherine Langford and Gustaf Skarsgård, and creators Tom Wheeler and Frank Miller in a virtual Q&A. Check out the highlights below:
On how they prepared for their characters as Nimue and Merlin
KATHERINE LANGFORD: What I really wanted to get across was that we’re telling the story that acknowledges the female experience of becoming a hero with all of those obstacles that are in her way. So, what I was looking at is not so much the horse riding but particularly the sword fighting, [and] the weaponry that we see that has been used traditionally, it’s all catered to men and how they fight. It’s very different, as a woman, how you use your physicality and how you use your strength so I worked very closely with our fight choreographer to kind of develop this style that was unique to Nimue.
GUSTAF SKARSGÅRD: I feel like I’ve gained from having a lot of acting experience and having played a lot of different characters before, and I can use different elements of [those experiences] into playing [Merlin]. On top of that, you know, [there’s] the usual preparation of really understanding the character and putting yourself in his state of mind and his perspective.
On what sets Cursed apart from other Arthurian stories
KATHERINE LANGFORD: I think in many ways, the Arthurian legends are one of the most well-known tales that we have. Usually, when you think of the Arthurian legends, you think of King Arthur, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table. Each time, it’s kind of ignored a lot of the female roles within that tale, most specifically the Lady of the Lake. [She] was this powerful and prolific character, yet we know very little or nothing about her.
What was interesting [about Cursed] is seeing this Arthurian legend be told through the lens of one of its most powerful characters. Seeing it through the eyes of a woman is also really special especially in this time – even though it’s fantasy and it’s not historically set in our own world – [because] it’s still a man’s world. Her journey to becoming a hero is very different from what you would see for any of those other characters.
On working with their cast mates
GUSTAF SKARSGÅRD: It was great working with Katherine and I knew from the audition, we would have a lot of fun. She’s so extremely talented, present, playful, and very skilled as well, so it was a thrill to work with her. [I also got to work with] Catherine Walker, who played Eleanor, and I love the actress as well. I was fortunate to have a few, few good scenes with her. I also have to say Peter Rowan, and unfortunately, I only got to act alongside him in one scene. He’s such an amazing actor and I’ve always looked up to him so that was a treat.
KATHERINE: I feel that we were so lucky with the incredible cast that we had. For me, playing Nimue, I feel quite fortunate because I kind of got to play with different people throughout the season. You know, whether it’s Lily Newmark who plays Pim, Shalom, Devon. There are so many incredible actors in this.
Gustaf and I feel very fortunate because we have some really special, and really powerful scenes. It’s really incredible when you get to work with an actor who is so skilled, talented, and also respected for what he does, but is also such an incredible person. I feel really blessed and really lucky to have that relationship, both on-screen and off-screen I feel like we’re very good friends.
On scenes that fans of the book should look forward to
KATHERINE LANGFORD: Although the show is based on the book, they’re quite different, in terms of the interpretations. There are little things that are, sort of, different. I think there’s a relationship that the Weeping Monk has with Squirrel. In the book, there are some really beautiful details there, which I think they absolutely nailed in the series. The dynamic between Dan Sharman and Billy [Jenkins] who play the Weeping Monk and Squirrel have such beautiful chemistry on screen. It kind of makes you laugh, and I also just feel so much for them. So if people have read the book, I would definitely tell them to keep an eye out for that relationship.
On seeing the story of the book come to life on-screen
TOM WHEELER: I think there were several moments during the course of production where I would walk into the set, and [we will be shooting] some favorite chapter – whether it was Nimue up the rock with the wolves or Merlin in the tower. Someone had been building the set for three days. The costumes were ready, and you just would see it manifested before your eyes. You never get used to that, and it’s always so exciting.
FRANK MILLER: Tom was talking about the big expansive thrills. I’ve got to mention the more the smaller, more intimate side of that. What was particularly real to me was to talk to some of the craftsmen who work there, and say to them that I needed to see what kind of knives that the characters would be carrying. At one point, Tom and I’ve been discussing a scene, and I said I wanted to see some Medieval dental equipment because I knew whatever it was, it’d be scary. They had stuff out right quick and, and it was scary. That, to me adds the kind of texture to make everything very intimate. There’s a reason people get into this business. It’s good time.
On what young-adults can take away from Cursed
TOM WHEELER: Well, I think the idea of what I’ve always kind of loved about King Arthur and the drawing of the sword from the stone is the power of seizing your own destiny, the ability to shape your future, regardless of the odds. And Arthur, and every story is sort of a young man, you know, thrust into this responsibility. In this case, the story we are learning [is] about Nimue, a young woman thrust into responsibility, who will help shape and guide the destiny of Arthur and some of these other legendary characters.
I think it’s kind of amazing, the example we’re seeing from young people in the United States and around the world, stepping up and protesting for change and making change happen in the world. Right now the world is a great example for Nimue and [the] storytellers as opposed to the other way around. I think they’re mutually compatible and they can see a hero stepping into a job she might not feel ready for, but that’s kind of where heroism is born. In those moments [when] we’re not ready, but we we keep moving forward.
FRANK MILLER: I think a theme that has to run through this kind of story is perseverance. That is the persistence to see things through and to fight on with the odds against you to attain the goal of making things better. It is indeed a very dark world she’s in, and she’s stepping into her power, realizing that she is she’s going to be a major force in this world. But she has to choose to become it.
Cursed launches globally on Netflix this July 17. You can check out its official page here.