During a recent phone call, Anthony Head gave NiceGirlsTV a peek behind the royal curtain into the mind of a king. In Merlin, Anthony portrays King Uther Pendragon, illustrious and notorious father of heir-apparent Prince Arthur.
At the end of the second season of Merlin, the sorceress Morgause took Uther’s ward Morgana. As the third season begins, distraught over Morgana’s kidnapping, Uther becomes a bit unraveled. Not only does he care for Morgana as if she were his own child, but it is a matter of kingly pride that he locate and rescue her from Morgana’s evil clutches. Yet in the year that Morgana has been missing (voluntarily, unbeknownest to him), Uther has begun to see visions. He is haunted by his past transgressions and misdemeanors.
Anthony shared that because Uther is a hypocrite, having turned to magic in order to have a son — which cost him the life of his wife – Uther is driven to destroy that which killed his beloved. In addition, because of his moment of weakness in seeking out magic which came back to bite him, it is that moment of weakness that fuels Uther’s compulsion to eradicate magic from his kingdom.
When asked if Uther is motivated more by grief or rage, Anthony thoughtfully said that he believed that one created the other. It was grief that initially drove Uther into his blind rage. He has become so single-mindedly driven to vanquish magic and all those who wield it, that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy – he has ultimately created the very thing he wanted to eliminate: an uprising of magic. It is now impossible to control as Uther has fanned the flames foreshadowing an epic battle.
Anthony also noted that the possibility of redemption might be beyond Uther. It was the love for a son that drew Uther to magic, and it is the love of his son that now compels him to wipe out magic in his kingdom. Uther seeks to do so out of an urge to protect Arthur – and in the process, protect the people of Camelot as well. But while Uther has a sense that he is doing it for what are the right reasons in his mind, he is working from a “limited tool box.” It is, after all, the dark ages and magic instills fear of the unknown and the unknowable. Uther’s reign is founded on fear, and without a solid foundation of love, trust, respect and tolerance for all, Uther’s kingdom will fall.
Finally, as Anthony shared, it is as if Uther has undergone therapy that has gone slightly wrong. Uther has these visions while in his bad state; and these visions have played upon his mind leaving him slightly “dislodged.” So in the 3rd season of Merlin we will see the coming of Arthur as a future king and a grand battle for the fate of Camelot, and also marks the turning point in Uther’s sanity.
Be sure to tune in and catch the third season of Merlin when it returns on Friday, January 7 at 10/9c on Syfy.