Comic-Con @ Home: “His Dark Materials” panel

This year, San Diego Comic-Con could not take place as usual (thanks, COVID-19), but the organisers prepared an alternative: Comic-Con @ Home. Available for everyone free of charge, it’s a collection of pre-recorded panels with various creators and artists. At Geekified, we will be covering the most interesting ones. First up: „His Dark Materials”.

The virtual panel was held by award-winning journalist Stacey Wilson Hunt. Her guests included: executive producer Jane Tranter, executive producer and writer Jack Thorne, actress Dafne Keen (Lyra Belaqua), actress Ruth Wilson (Mrs. Coulter), actor Amir Wilson (Will Parry), actor Ariyon Bakare (Lord Boreal), actor Andrew Scott (John Parry) and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lee Scoresby).

First, they introduced a trailer for season 2, which showed a lot of intriguing scenes from the upcoming episodes. The fans of Phillip Pullman’s books will be happy to see new places such as Cittàgazze, new characters such as Mary Malone and even new McGuffins such as The Subtle Knife, which will be the focus of the season. Watch the trailer below.

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The executive producers were asked about what had meant the most to them in how the fans had received the series. Jane Tranter stressed that the fact that fans of the books liked the series, was the most gratifying thing, especially with new plot threads introduced in the series.

Thorne talked about the most difficult thing about adapting Pullman’s novels and admitted that the overall denseness of the world imagined by the author was pretty challenging. Luckily, Pullman was really satisfied with the work done by the people involved in the show and even reached out to everyone with words of appreciation.

Dafne Keen was asked about Lyra’s state of mind going into season 2. The actress said that Lyra has to deal with her losing all the things she found support in and has to find herself in a completely new situation.

Amir Wilson talked about the pressure he felt when bringing Will to life. He wanted to satisfy the fans of the books and their notions of the character but, at the same time, he also wanted to add a bit of himself and make the character his own. Luckily, he was free to do so.

Hunt asked Ruth Wilson about the complexity of her character. The actress said that the most fascinating characters for her are the ones she can’t truly understand. In the second season, she got to dig deeper into Mrs. Coulter’s background, even more so than in the books — which should come as no surprise, considering the fact the first season also had some extra material as opposed to the novels.

Lin-Manuel Miranda revealed he and his wife have been huge fans of the novels for quite some time and they actually bonded over them. He felt really happy when he was invited to take part in the show. He also spoke about his great relationship with Dafne Keen and they loved working with each other.

Ariyon Bakare was asked about what drives Lord Boreal. The actor thinks it is his ambition and the desire for more power. It was also the first time he got to play a villain and he said he was advised to hide all emotions to pull the performance off.

Andrew Scott is the new addition to the cast and he was really excited to come into the world. He revealed his daemon will be voiced by his “Fleabag” co-star, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, which is a really exciting piece of news!

The producers also talked a bit about the reality of working during the pandemic. Jane Tranter said they are currently on track and will be able to transmit season two when intended. They pretty much wrapped up principal photography in December 2019, with just one stand-alone episode left to be filmed. The episode would deal with Lord Asriel’s activities after going through the anomaly in the season 1 finale and was written with some input from Philip Pullman. For now, it had to be shelved, but because it wasn’t substantial for “The Subtle Knife” adaptation, the inability to finish filming it, won’t affect the course of season 2.

For more from the cast and the producers, watch the panel below.

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