The Iris Interview: Rupert Young talks the popularity of Merlin ahead of Supanova & plans for 2015.

The next run of Supanova expos are just around the corner, with Adelaide and Brisbane up next as hosts for a weekend full of meet and greets, cosplaying, merch buying and Q&A panel goodness. Featured on the guest line up for Adelaide and Brisbane are names including Jack Gleeson (Game of Thrones’ King Joffrey), Oliver and James Phelps (Harry Potter’s Weasley Twins) and this dashing fellow pictured above, Rupert Young or Sir Leon, to those Merlin fans out there. Originally set to appear aside Merlin cast mates Eoin Macken and Alex Vlahos, Young is now representing for the BBC show on his own and he’s excited to be getting away from the London cold, first of all.

“I’m still in denial that I’m actually going!” he laughs. “You go, ‘Surely not! It’s freezing cold here and surely I’m not going to go to the other side of the world.’ I’ve not been to Adelaide or Brisbane, so I’m very excited to visit both those places. I did Sydney and Perth last year and it was great to have most of the gang back together last time. Originally on this trip, Eoin and Alex were supposed to be coming as well but they had to postpone, so it’s going to be quite a strange experience being on my own from the show! I was meant to do this tour a couple of years ago, but then work came along and I was filming, so I had to pull out so Tom [Hopper] had to do it on his own. He said he had a great time. So yeah, I’m representing the group and hoping to not sully their name!”

Merlin wrapped on its fifth and final season back at the end of 2012 and brought not only Young and his fellow Knights, but the likes of Colin Morgan and Bradley James to wider acclaim as well as bringing the fantastic Anthony HeadRichard Wilson and John Hurt (the voice of, at least) to a whole new demographic of TV fans. The Supanova crowds have enjoyed the Merlin cast joining the tours in recent times, where the Australian fan base has been able to fully connect with the cast and show their appreciation for the British fantasy show.

“We’re so lucky to not only have been on a great show that we enjoyed doing,’ Young agrees. “But when you get a call saying ‘Would you like to come to Australia and meet fans?’, it’s amazing. It’s so exciting that it’s still being shown around the world and it’s still popular. There’s always that fear that you’re going to turn up and people are going to go, ‘Rupert, the show finished two years ago, why are you here?! We’ve moved on now, you’ve got to let it go!’ But we’ll see! There is always that fear that you’ll turn up and you won’t get many people, but people on Twitter and other places seem to be excited about us coming out. We all went to Madrid a few months ago and yeah, it’s great. I mean, how often do you get to be in a show that, two years after you finish filming, people still want to meet you and still care about it? It’s very humbling.”

The first few seasons saw Young, Hopper and Macken in particular as semi-background characters – Knights of the Round Table, yes, but still there for muscle and presence. As the show progressed and developed more layers however, the Knights were positioned further beneath the spotlight and a brotherhood mentality was explored in more detail over the ensuing three seasons of episodes.

“That was part of the excitement,” Young remembers. “There was us and Adetomiwa [Edun] as well who was Elyan and then Santiago [Cabrera] wanted to come along – we all came in hoping that this show…we knew the show was popular and just to be part of it was great. But then to suddenly have this group…I think they liked what we did! I was only supposed to be in a couple of scenes when I first auditioned and they liked what I did and then they suddenly made me part of this group and then they brought some others in. I’ve talked about it before, but the first day when the five of us were in our cloaks, crossing the drawbridge in France in the castle, you looked around and thought, ‘This is brilliant!’ Every year, you got to go back and have more to do and get to hang out with your buddies, really.”

 

“There aren’t really many jobs where you get to do that. There were times though, whenever you were tired from getting up early or whatever it was, you’d go to work and, especially in France when we were in the castle, it was just brilliant. You got to be having sword fights and doing things you’d do when you were a child! The joy on people’s faces, it really was a special time. I was in Sri Lanka last year at Christmas and it was being shown there and everywhere you go, people like the show and I just think it’s the old-fashioned storytelling that people love. That and it’s not reality TV, where someone’s getting voted off. It’s great!”

Following the end of Merlin, Young has been keeping busy with various projects which have kept him either performing onstage or in front of the camera. Having journeyed out to the US last year to check the scene out over in the American market, he’s definitely noticed a change in trend, as he comments on forthcoming projects he’s got scheduled (he’s filming a movie in the States next year, for one).

“Eoin’s show [NBC’s The Night Shift] is doing well and Tom’s show [Starz’ Black Sails] is doing well, though they are filming in South Africa. There are definitely things I’d be interested in doing. Eoin’s always saying, ‘Come out and stay with me,’ and it’s just an exciting buzz. The history of movies is out in LA; when I first went out there, I was just driving around and I went to some old studios for interviews and meeting amazing people. You can’t beat that, you know?”

“I went out [to LA] last year for the pilot season, which was an amazing time. I’ve got representation out there and now, with the internet and self-taping, a lot of the time it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can film yourself. It’s not the same as being in a room and meeting people. It’s definitely something I’ve explored. We make some great TV in England, but in America they make so much stuff. The TV shows there are my favourite – the dramas are amazing and their comedies…England use to make the funniest shows on TV and I feel we’ve kind of slipped there a little bit, we’re not taking the same risks as the Americans and even the Australians. Some of my favourite comedies are from Australia. I feel like it goes through waves, whether it be Australian or American. There is more money there to be able to put the shows on and there’s where I’d love to be, to try and be set there would be great. Also though, you’re always looking for good scripts, so you never know where it’s going to be. I’m not really in a position where I can be like, ‘Right, now I’m going to do a film here’. We’ll see!”

The Supanova Pop Culture Expo will stop at the Adelaide Showgrounds on November 21st-23rd and Brisbane’s Convention & Exhibition Centre on November 28th-30th. For more information, head to www.supanova.com.au.