A Discovery of Witches, the hit series from SkyTV that has been exclusively streaming on Shudder and Sundance Now, will make its debut on BBC America and AMC on April 7, 2019.
Based on the All Souls Trilogy novels by author Deborah Harkness, the series imagines a world where vampires, witches, and daemons secretly live alongside humans. It’s a beautifully textured, timely story, and one that has drawn in viewers globally.
With its network premiere looming, one of the series’ many stars, British actor Edward Bluemel, sat down with iHorror to talk about the world of A Discovery of Witches and his experience in helping bring it to life.
The actor was completely over the moon about creating a role for the screen so different from anything he’d ever done before.
“In drama school, I did a lot of classical theater and my first TV role out of school was a period drama. It was all about accuracy, realism, and things like that,” he explained. “To do a fantasy is so lovely, really. It’s freeing and you’re in a world that doesn’t have those parameters. Also, playing a supernatural creature is a lot of fun.”
The supernatural creature Bluemel is referring to is Marcus Whitmore, vampiric son of Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode), who finds himself working for his “father” in a lab deciphering the mysteries of creature DNA.
This melding of the fantastic and scientific is just one way in which the series roots the supernatural in reality noting that each “species” differentiates by only a couple of chromosome pairs.
For his part, Bluemel loved this convergence.
“It was amazing creating this world that you can actually believe exists,” he said. “This different twist on vampires and witches makes it feel fun and fresh. I love being a vampire and a scientist.”
He was also grateful to Harkness during the audition process. He went in with no prior knowledge of the trilogy, and had no idea that he had very little in common, physically, with the Marcus on the page.
Harkness was completely taken with the young actor and his audition.
“She said, ‘I don’t care what I’ve written, that’s the spirit of the character,'” he laughed. “I gave what I thought the character should be, and they agreed with me.”
Soon, the young actor found himself surrounded by a cast of talented actors, many of whom he’d admired for years. It was Alex Kingston, however, that gave him the most pause.
Among Kingston’s many credits is the iconic series Doctor Who, and Bluemel says that while he had no nerves while filming, he did have to remind himself to put his inner fanboy to the side during the scenes he shared with her.
Moreover, working with phenomenally talented actors made him more assured in his own craft.
“As soon as I get on set, they’re so assured and confident in what they do that it actually made it easier for me,” he explained.
That confidence came in handy, especially with Marcus’s introduction in the series which different and more violent than in the novel. It was also Bluemel’s first experience seeing real stunt work performed on a set.
In the scene, Marcus is walking home with a friend, and as they part ways, the friend is hit by a car which speeds away. As he lays dying in the street, Marcus looks around and then without warning attempts to turn the friend into a vampire to save his life.
The turning goes horribly wrong and he stares in horror as his friend dies, confused and bleeding out into the street. It was a bitterly sad moment, and one that, Bluemel adds, drives home the vampire’s reality.
“You see this and it’s suddenly real. The vampires are real. They’re dangerous and they’re volatile,” he said. “It’s messy. No part of it is comfortable and it’s important for the viewer to see that.”
Bluemel’s performance in the scene and in Marcus’s subsequent altercation with Matthew is both poignant and raw. It drives home just who Marcus is and how important and complicated his relationship with his vampiric father really is.
These kind of relationships and moments elevate the series, and makes for really great television.
If you still haven’t had the chance to see A Discovery of Witches, it will premiere on both AMC and BBC America on April 7, 2019 at 9 pm ET/PT. Check your local listings for details and prepare yourself to be blown away by this magnificent world.