James McAvoy was a big part of the advertising campaign for the HBO and BBC collaboration series Its dark materials. The HBO young adult fantasy show was the second attempt at a major adaptation, and it took big names to allay fans’ fears. But McAvoy — a fan of the original books — was convinced he wouldn’t be on the series at all at first.
How did McAvoy get his dream role? And what do other fans of author Philip Pullman’s popular books think of it? X-Men: First Class the actor managed to bring Lord Asriel to the small screen?
McAvoy recently broke down his most iconic roles — of which there are many! — on the UK GQ YouTube channel. The interview is full of insights into everything dirt to his long run in the X-Men Franchise. One of the most revealing parts is when he touches on his story Its dark materialsa franchise that has been dear to his heart for years.
Early in his acting career, the man who would later become Charles Xavier was in a stage production alongside Future game of Thrones Actor Indira Varma. They struck up a conversation about fantasy literature, leading McAvoy to suggest that Varma read it Lord of the Rings. Varma agreed – as long as the young actor watched her favorite trilogy of the genre, Its dark materials.
From then on, he kept an eye on possible adjustments. After the box office hit of the first attempt, the film The Golden Compass, it always seemed like a long shot. That all changed when HBO began putting out feelers in search of young adult material for its repertoire.
Years later, when the HBO/BBC adaptation was announced, he was ecstatic. But since he knew the books “inside out,” as he told GQ, he wasn’t sure there was a role for him.
“My good friend Kathleen Crawford, who cast the show, started talking to me about the fact that she would be casting Its dark materials‘ McAvoy said. “But I kind of felt like I wasn’t going to have a role in it.”
He brooded over the situation for a few weeks, assuming he wouldn’t end up getting a role on the show. That changed abruptly when an unnamed actor turned down a lead role: Lord Asriel. On another shoot in the series, everything seemed to fall into place, reports Slash Film.
“I left, when do I start? And she said Monday. And I said, ‘Okay, great, I’ll do it.’ I happened to be available and I loved it,” he said. “I knew exactly what I was going to do with the character from the moment she said, ‘Do you want to do that?'”
This latest attempt at Its dark materials for the screen was received mostly positively by viewers. In doing so, the series managed to last long enough in a competitive fantasy TV space to make it the third and final novel in the series. Season 3 finally achieves something The Golden Compass Film could not and completes the narrative cycle.
So what about McAvoy as the brutal, aristocratic explorer Lord Asriel? Did the actor have the right feeling initially that he wasn’t right for any role on the show? Or did his sudden move, given a second chance on the series, turn out to be the right instinct?
Aside from all the obvious praise from critics, a good indicator is how fans on Reddit reacted to the reveal that a standalone Asriel episode was dropped from Season 2.
“I have a feeling if they wanted to, they could,” wrote Reddit user and-bob. “Nothing prevents them from reworking this as a TV movie with a slightly different frame.”
“Truly the worst consequence of the Covid pandemic,” wrote user Chills1. Clearly, fans want more from Asriel — and would love it if a McAvoy-focused hour found its way into the public domain one way or another.