For audiences who love the fantasy-adventure genre, but are looking for a more family-friendly way to get their fix, Netflix’s “The Letter for the King” may be just the ticket.
“It’s just as epic. The production value is the same as ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Lord of the Rings,’ but it’s suited for family,” Gijs Blom, who plays Prince Viridian, told Variety as the cast assembled to preview the fantasy series.
And like those hit franchises, “Letter for the King” is also based on a classic novel — this one by Dutch author Tonke Dragt, who consulted on showrunner and executive producer Will Davies’ onscreen adaptation. The story follows 16-year-old Tiuri (Amir Wilson), whose journey to become a knight is derailed when he is tasked to deliver a secret letter to the king and suddenly the fate of the entire kingdom rests in his hands.
“Every time you do an adaptation, you’ve always got to worry because your portrayal might not be what everyone likes, however I felt free to add my own personality to Tiuri,” Wilson — who previously starred in the “His Dark Materials” adaptation — explained. “He’s a hero that doesn’t follow the stereotypical attributes of a hero — he’s not the best fighter or the strongest of the bunch, but he has the heart and bravery that it takes to be a knight.”
“It was the same with me and Thaddea,” Ruby Ashbourne Serkis (Lavinia) said. “I think Lavinia appears for a tiny moment in the book and Iona doesn’t exist at all, and I think that’s one of the great things that Will Davies and the other writers have done in terms of kind of just updating it and making it way more apt to today.”
“They were in talks with Tonke so it’s not like these characters just came out of nowhere,” Thaddea Graham (Iona) added. “It’s really cool to have the original author speak to us now and be able to continue it on for another generation.”
But of course, the coolest part of the experience was getting to train to be a knight.
“It was really, really good fun. We all got to learn how to horse ride and sword fight, so not only did we act, we got to learn new skills,” Wilson recalled, admitting that “it was a painful four weeks of training.”
“Four hours of boot camp and then an hour of horse riding,” Graham chimed in. “I think it’s incredible to be part of a show that has so many moving parts in it — we’ve got the horse riding, the sword fighting and we’ve got all these complex characters. And it’s a story about growing up and finding out what you actually are and what strengths and what you can push yourself to do.”
But even with all the fighting, Wilson says the show is “more about discovering yourself than it is about the violence.”
“All of our fight sequences are driven by plot, it’s not just fighting for the sake of fighting,” Graham added. “It’s part of the journey, and I think that’s what makes it so interesting to watch. You’re kind of rooting for both sides of the fight, you’re not sure who you want to win because you can understand and sympathize with both.”
“The Letter for the King” is streaming now on Netflix.