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Joe Cornish on His ‘’The Kid Who Would Be King’’ Cast

Published Date: 08/02/2019

We were delighted to learn more about the casting of the main characters of Joe Cornish's The Kid Who Would Be King.

 

Joe Cornish on casting Louis Ashbourne Serkis

 

"For the role of Alex, we saw loads and loads of kids, and we came down to about two or three. But then Louis Ashbourne Serkis entered the audition process, and he just blew everybody away, because he was so detailed, so unmannered, so natural in the way he performed.”

 

Louis Ashbourne Serkis on his character

 

"Alex lives with his mum and she can’t really spend that much time with him because she has to work. He’s quite disillusioned because his dad’s left them, and he and his one friend Bedders get bullied at school. He thinks there’s no hope, and life’s not going to get any better - he’s just another nobody kid. But then obviously when he stumbles across the sword everything changes.”

 

Joe Cornish on casting Sir Patrick Stewart

 

“Adult Merlin is a very important character in the movie, because he has to have real presence and charisma. He appears in moments of great crisis, when the kids need to be inspired, frightened, or emboldened by the presence of an authoritative, grown-up wizard.

 

We knew we wanted somebody with all those qualities, and one of our very first thoughts was Sir Patrick Stewart. We’re used to seeing him play very wise characters, but we’ve never seen him as this sort of slightly flea-bitten, down at heel, scruffy looking wizard. When I first met Sir Patrick to talk to him about the part, I told him that this was a very different incarnation of Merlin, that this was a character that arrives in the world naked, who acquires a hodgepodge of clothes, someone you would perhaps mistake for a homeless person or a tramp if you saw him without knowing who he was. He immediately found the idea very appealing.

 

When Sir Patrick turned up on the set, it was an absolute thrill. And because of who he is, he brought all those energies that the script requires. The look on our young actors’ faces when they were in a scene with him had all the sort of adulation and respect and excitement that you need for the narrative, without having to act it. It just happened naturally.”

 

Sir Patrick Stewart on the attraction of the role

 

"When I was sent the script, I was immediately intrigued by the whole notion of transferring what is usually looked on as a medieval piece, into modern day, and that the great legendary heroes of the Arthurian stories were children, who are tasked by the young Merlin to take over and challenge the powers of darkness, which are threatening to wreck the United Kingdom.

 

One of the big attractions of this project was that I would be working with another actor who was playing the same role, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I was fascinated with that, so early on I did some work with Angus. We met, and we had a few little experiments that we tried. We both found a passage of Shakespeare that we knew by heart, and so we spoke it in unison, with each one of us trying to imitate the other’s voice. I’d never done anything like that before, and it was a fascinating exercise."

 

Joe Cornish's excitement of Rebecca Ferguson agreeing to star as Morgana

 

"We were very lucky that Rebecca really responded to the material and was excited to play this larger than life role that involved her putting on elaborate prosthetics and transforming into these crazy creatures – breathing fire and flying, and fighting an army of kids. I think she really relished and enjoyed the experience, taking it very seriously and working incredibly hard on her physical movement. She gave us a huge amount of time and energy, above and beyond the call of duty, and has a phenomenal presence and charisma in the movie. I think she’s pretty scary.”

 

Rebecca Ferguson's confession time

 

"I didn’t have time to read the script before I met up with Joe at a little café. We sat down, and he went through the entire script for an hour-and-a-half, mimicking, doing all the voices for all the characters, sometimes standing up and portraying the entire film, and finally I looked at him and said, ‘I haven’t read the script. You have me.’ Literally, I signed onto it there and then, with no contract and having not read the script. Joe has been working on this story for so many years – it’s been his dream project, which means he is burning with desire every time he talks about it.”

 

The Kid Who Would Be King is at Showcase from February 15.