Merlin was an outstanding success for the BBC, so much so, we wonder if the “beeb” were even prepared for the fanbase it amassed. Superb acting talent, with fantastic production and behind the scenes crews took a well known story that had been tackled before with varying degrees of success (sorry Mr Connery, was never a fan of First Knight) and ensured what could have been monumental flop turned into one of the best TV series of recent times.
Alexander Vlahos took on the role of the infamous and traitorous Mordred. When we visited October’s London Film and Comic Con The Jitty team were eager to interview him. Once we cleared it with the Showmasters Crew, who were as ever brilliant, we patiently waited. Alexander was sat down behind his table and in the absence of chairs for ourselves we opted to conduct the interview whilst on our knees. Something Mordred would have appreciated!
Hello, and how are your knees?
At the moment, ok.
Ah, well we’ll see at the end of the interview!
Very true, we may need to be carried away afterwards though. So, could you tell us what has been your most challenging role?
Private Keenan I guess, from Privates, because he is so unlike me. I had to change everything, my accent, change my way of thinking. Mordred was a doddle compared to that!
Just how much of yourself do you put into your characters?
Oh, everything. Well, actually, you put whatever you can that the script allows you to. But how characters think and speak, as well as their morals, I think that has to really come from you as well. So you have to believe in the whole thing.
So there may be times when you may be cast for a role that is just totally not you, how do you deal with that?
Well, that’s the job of an actor isn’t it. And it’s also, well, if people said to me that Mordred was rubbish then I would have failed in doing my job, what I’m paid to do. So there we go, success all around!
How differently do you approach doing voice acting compared to filming?
For Dorian you mean. The difference is that I can turn up in my pyjamas for Dorian Gray, but I can’t for TV, unless of course my character is scripted to. But because you’re only using your voice, you’re emoting a lot more so that the listeners get what you’re doing, you’re having to do a lot more then you would normally do. You see the acting is quite subtle, I think.
Is it harder then television?
Well no, because I mean, you get loads of takes, it’s really sort of laid back, and Dorian is such a grumpy b*** that you can have fun with it I guess. Where as if you came to the studio and saw what I was doing in the booth and I was doing Dorian Gray you would go “bloody hell, he’s going mad” because you’re really getting into the physicalities of it, just so that the listeners can go “Ah, so that’s what he’s doing”. But, if you’re doing Television, retakes if you imagine it, will involve the cast, the production crew, and potentially that’s a lot of resources involved!
You said you were interested in playing Doctor Who, was that just an aspirational dream?
Well, I’ve watched Dr Who since I was two years old, so like all the old black and white ones, and then since the TV series has had a revival and has come back, because I’m an actor, and I’ve found myself in a cult show, Dr Who seems the most tangible place to go.
So are you going to pursue that then?
Well, when Peter Capaldi decides to b*** off then I’ll be knocking on Mr Moffat’s door, don’t you worry!
Crowd Funding / Kick Starters, is that the way to go for actors these days to do their own projects?
Ah, I don’t know, it depends on if you’re a creative. Because there is a difference between being an actor and you just turn up and do your job, and it depends if you have ideas within yourself. So like the kickstarters, because I run a theatre company, so that was one of them. The other one was that I had wanted to do a short film. Eoin Macken did the same with Gwaine, and he did and Indiegogo campaign and raised loads of money for his project. Now, he’s a creative. He’s an actor, but he’s also a creative. He writes, he directs, he does everything. So I think kickstarters and crowd funding is the way to go for that type of person.
Especially with so many fans it makes it perhaps easier.
Yeah, that is the main thing. You couldn’t for example, if one of my friends were an actor and he wasn’t so well known, or had a smaller fan base, if he went to try to start a project via kickstarter, then he’d obviously find it a bit harder to get the money. But that’s what’s so great about the Merlin fanbase, they support you beyond the show, they’re fantastic, like here today at London Film and Comic Con.
Talking of Merlin, that must have been a bit of sad event when it all ended.
Yeah, it was, but I still speak to them all. Eoin is one of my closest friends, ever, so that’s good, and that’s thanks to the show. Some people you may not see as often. I speak to Colin, I speak to Rupert, but you know, you drift, but then you can just as easily come together again for another project, it just happens, you don’t force a friendship. And that happens for other series too, I’m really good friends with Jack Fox, Matthew Aubrey from Privates and stuff like that. So it can depend on the show, I mean if you’re just turning up for a days work then, you’re maybe not going to forge those same sorts of friendships. It didn’t happen so much for Dorian because that was really quick, an episode there would take just half a day, people come in, they do their stuff, and then they leave.
Ok we had better wrap up there, many thanks for your time.
Thank you, hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend!
With that we hobbled off to see the rest of the event. It was great to talk with Alexander who was remarkably friendly and upbeat given that it was a pretty early start. And Alexander as Dr Who, after Peter has finished, it’s got to be hasn’t it.