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Once Upon a Time has had a lot of trouble brewing this season with Emma becoming The Dark One, there being another curse on the town, and King Arthur trying to control the group in Storybrooke. The only person that appears to be the saving grace for the town is Merlin, who for the time being is stuck in a tree.
I was able to sit down with Elliot Knight and discuss some of what's in the cards for the rest of the season, talk about his character, and what it is like becoming such an iconic character.
1. He actually hadn't seen the show before he was cast.
"I didn't, I wasn't a watcher of the show before I went in and met the creators but I did watch the show after I met them. [I watched it] from beginning to end, every episode. I just don't watch many tv shows. I haven't had tv since I left Uni 6 years ago. So it really was like catch up on Netflix. After I met the guys I watched the whole thing and I really liked it, I was like "This is great, I'm excited to do this now.""
2. He has more than one favorite Disney movie.
"I love Hunchback of Notre Dame, I really like that movie, that's great. When I was a kid I actually really loved Lion King, I would just be singing to those songs and pretending I was Simba. I like a lot of the new ones as well I love The Emperor's New Groove. Sleeping Beauty always [had] my favorite of the evil characters, Maleficent. [She] was always the archetype of what an awesome evil Disney character should be in so many ways."
3. He drew a slight inspiration from another "Merlin."
"When I was growing up there was a series, starring Sam Neil as Merlin [Merlin 1998] The different sides of magic and what drove it into being and the love people have to have for themselves and different people. How fragile it is for people's fear and how it could be used for good or for evil. Also, the power of true love, the most powerful form of magic and how that plays a part of it.... Magic really had it's roots in emotion. That appealed to me... it's something that I definitely wanted to include in my interpretation of Merlin. His emotional journey is the most important factor of him being such a powerful magical creature. [However] ONCE has done a wonderful job of creating it's own universe. As much as you come into it as already recognized characters, you still have to respect the concept of the season and the characters already existing and their lives as it's all happening."
4. Merlin isn't necessarily good or bad.
"The thing I love about the show is that, what I take from it, is that no one is ever REALLY evil or good, they're just relative terms... Everyone is just acting on their hearts. As long as you're doing what you believe in that's really kind of good. Because every person is following their heart, their passion...What's interesting about Merlin's character is I feel like he has a greater sense of the bigger picture more than anybody else does. So I feel like he's a character who is relatively selfless, it's not so much about what he wants as about what is needed to happen. They talk about him this season, talking about Merlin's prophecy and things that he has predicted will happen, should happen, or how they'll happen...Merlin is there to try and ensure things stay in place."
5. He does have a favorite scene... But...
"I can't talk about that. There are some really cool things to play around with and be able to do and it's just really enjoyable. [There are] Some great people to work with. There's definitely an episode where I had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed being a part of that but I can't tell you ANYTHING about it."
6. Merlin and Arthur will always have a special bond.
"Liam is brilliant as Arthur he's so good on the show, just watching him. I really enjoyed watching his character come to life. I'm enjoying working with him, with everyone. I've gotten to have a mix of working with different people but in terms of the character connections I've naturally just spent more time working with certain people then others. There is no one else that I can mention."
7. He is frustrated with being trapped in a tree too! Release him!
"Every week I sat there going 'What happened?' I know when it's going to happen obviously but I'm like 'Where's Merlin? What's happening?' I want to appear now and get stuff going. You will see how that happened and a lot more that you weren't expecting and you will see very soon. In fact, sooner than you can possibly imagine."
8. The chocolate bar scene was added later.
"I don't think it was there originally in the first episode. But then they asked me to come in and shoot this for the opening because they really wanted to bring me around the start of the season and the stakes of what was to come and a lot of the struggles that were pending. So it was nice to do that and a lot of people loved it which I'm down about."
9. He loves interacting with fans.
"People are always asking me "What's happening" or "Will this happen?" and I'm like "Oh, I want to answer these questions but I'm sorry, I'm not ignoring you, I can't say anything, I'm not allowed." Shout out to my #apprentices and #merlinsbeard on Twitter! The Merlin Fan Army. There's going to be more for them to watch next week, so they're going to want to stick around for that... It's so wonderful to feel so supported."
10. Merlin isn't going anywhere any time soon.
"I'm in LA right now, I'm going back to Vancouver for some more filming. It's going to be exciting stuff. It's for something that's coming up very soon that people will see."
Elliot Knight is just as magical as Merlin, and just as sweet. Make sure to join Merlin's Fan Army and follow him on his social media sites!