Andrew Scott is swapping his dog collar for a shaman’s cloak.
The “Fleabag” star is the latest addition to the HBO-BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, playing the mysterious Colonel John Parry. Scott said the spiritual themes of the original novels were a large part of what drew him to the show.
“The books deal with religion in a very strong way and talk about how you can be a very kind, generous, soulful, wonderful person and that doesn’t necessarily have to do with an organized religion,” Scott told Variety during a video interview, which you can watch above. “Goodness is about one’s soul and I think that’s a wonderful thing for children to understand.”
In Season 2, premiering Nov. 16 on HBO, Scott’s character (who comes to be known as the shaman Jopari) spends most of his time in a hot air balloon with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s fiery Texan aeronaut Lee Scoresby. The two actors were delighted to work together for the first time, and Miranda revealed his friends were particularly excited that he was acting alongside the man behind the internet sensation of a hot and priestly variety.
“I’m in the hot air balloon with him and my phone is buzzing from men and women in my life being like, ‘You’re working with [the] hot priest!’ But none of it went to his head and we had a wonderful time together,” said Miranda.
After a dramatic finale which saw Lyra (Dafne Keen), Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) and Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) have a less-than-friendly family reunion on a blizzard-stricken mountain top, the main characters have largely gone their separate ways at the start of Season 2.
Lyra steps through a portal into another universe called Cittàgazze, where she meets Will (Amir Wilson) who is from the normal human world without dæmons, alethiometers, or any such magic. Keen teased that the two youngsters form a deep bond which helps Lyra “mature so much” in this new batch of episodes.
“In Season 1 she’s vulnerable, but you don’t see that vulnerability as much, and this season she’s much more emotional. She cares for Will when he’s sick and it’s beautiful to see him bring out this side of her you didn’t know was there,” Keen said. “You realize how much damage her parents have done to her, and you see that Will and Lyra make each other better.”
Eventually, Will takes Lyra back to his own world, which allows for a healthy dose of fish-out-of-water comedy.
“Pretending not to know our world was really fun. I got to act surprised at phones and go to the cinema for the first time,” Keen said.
There’s no question that the scope of Season 2, based on the second book in Pullman’s trilogy called “The Subtle Knife,” takes on a whole new dimension (pardon the pun).
Miranda said it brings the spiraling scope he remembers from first reading the trilogy, describing Season 2 as “faithful plus” in terms of how closely it sticks to the book.
“We introduced Will’s storyline within the first season which doesn’t happen in the books. It’s faithful to the contours of the story, fans of the second book are going to be happy, but there are detours, twists and turns that are not in the books,” he said.
Both Miranda and Scott remain tight-lipped on the final fate of their characters (those who have read the novels will be dying to see if Lee Scoresby’s storyline ends in a similar fashion), but the pair tease that there will be plenty of rainy and wind-swept balloon action in Season 2.
“Someone is spraying rain in your face and someone is spraying wind in your face. I probably did more ADR for this season because there’s no way you were going to hear my dialogue over the massive amounts of winds that are coming at us at those fictional altitudes,” Miranda said.