Knight in Shining Armour
*Unfortunately both Rupert Young and fellow knight Eoin Macken have cancelled their tour with Supanova due to scheduling conflicts but Australian fans of the series will be able to meet at least one knight in shining armour as Sir Percival – played by Tom Hopper – will still be attending the Brisbane event.
The widely anticipated fifth season of Merlin finally makes its way back into our world. Now, Rachel Barnes gets every girl’s dream come true. She talks with a knight in shining armour, Rupert Young — the actor behind Sir Leon — about reliving his childhood fantasies and riding the wave of a successful TV series.
When you picture a knight, you think of a tall and handsome man wearing shining armour, holding a sword and a shield, standing in front of a dastardly enemy, without even the slightest glint of fear in his eyes. Although Rupert Young looked the part during his first day on set, he was anything but the fearless knight. Young recalls only having one line to say. “I had to interrupt the scene and say, ‘The king commands your presence immediately,’ and I opened the door and went: ‘The king — uhh…’ — and my chain-mail was pounding away and I was absolutely terrified,” Young says. “To be honest they were all very sweet but I was just very scared. Luckily the next day I went in and I had one word which was ‘here’. I managed to remember that,” he laughs.
Young originally auditioned for two roles, both of which were only supposed to be small parts. But after landing Sir Leon and filming his scenes he was told they might bring him back. “This literally tiny part has become the knight that is Sir Leon now,” he says excitedly. “It’s been a nice journey, not knowing when I’m coming back and for how long. To get to the end of series five and still be there, I feel very lucky.”
Young says playing a knight is a childhood dream of his and he has loved every aspect of the journey. “I remember when all five of the knights got together for the first time. We rode into the castle in France with our capes on and there was a group of nine year olds just looking at us with their mouths open, going, ‘That’s so cool.’ It really was. We were all going, ‘I know. Look how cool we are.’” Young laughs. “It’s brilliant. You get to have sword fights and you get to do things that I remember loving every minute of when I was a child.”
With the filming of season five finishing and the first few episodes screening, Young says this season continues to push the boundaries. “I think it goes on routes that no one would quite expect. Some things happen that are quite shocking,” he says. “It’s definitely the darkest yet”
The success of the show grows with each season and, though Young thinks its popularity could be attributed to both the picturesque knights and the element of fantasy, he believes there is a deeper connection for fans. “A lot of people at school who feel different or have a tough time and get no credit at all can relate to Merlin,” he explains. “He gets bullied by the knights. Arthur is mean to him. And he always saves the day without any thanks. The reason that the show is so successful is because of that underdog character that people identify with.”
Supanova runs in the RNA showgrounds from Friday 9 Nov through to Sunday 11 Nov. Check out www.supanova.com.au for more details.
RACHEL BARNES is a freelance journalist and aspiring author. When she’s not writing she spends her time playing Roller Derby or American Football.