At this year’s virtual New York Comic-Con fans of A Discovery of Witches were treated to an online Q&A with cast members Teresa Palmer (Diana Bishop), Matthew Goode (Matthew Clairmont), Steven Cree (Gallowglass de Cleremont), Ed Bluemel (Marcus Whitmore), and Adelle Leonce (Phoebe Taylor) on all things season two.
Along with author Deborah Harkness (who wrote the All Souls trilogy that the series is adapted from) and Executive Producer Lachlan MacKinnon, the cast greets fans from the set of the congregation in Wales where season three is currently being filmed.
In season two, Matthew and Diana time walk to Elizabethan England where they try to track down the Book of Life and find a mentor to teach the witch to control her magic. There they meet a whole new cast of characters including Matthew’s father Philippe de Cleremont (James Purefoy), nephew Gallowglass, Kit Marlowe (Tom Hughes), Goody Alsop (Sheila Hancock) and many more.
The panel began with a teaser trailer followed by MacKinnon and Harkness speaking about the costumes, props, and set design done to make season two as authentically close to the Elizabethan time period as possible. The teaser gave us a look at some of the characters mentioned earlier as well as a darker tone in this adaptation of Shadow of Night, the second book in the All Souls trilogy. We got to see the beginnings of Diana learning to harness her magic through Goody Alsop’s mentoring, the hunt for Ashmole 782, and even a shot of Matthew’s sister Louisa de Cleremont (Elaine Cassidy).
During the introduction, Harkness explained that one of the most challenging aspects of season two was recreating Elizabethan London because very little from that time of the city survives to the present. MacKinnon adds that one of the first things they did was to have the production crew come to London and Harkness gave them a tour of the old city. Some of the places they visited was by the riverside near St. Paul’s Cathedral. Another key element was reproducing details from the period including an Austrian automaton originally made in the sixteenth century. Another important recreation was of course Ashmole 782 aka the Book of Life.
In the meantime, the cast members were filmed on the set of the Congregation’s headquarters. The Congregation is a governing body of government for creatures in ADOW, comprising of three witches, three vampires, and three demons. Palmer asked her fellow actors questions from show fans sent via Twitter. Here are some interesting tidbits we learned:
- Matthew Goode’s nickname on set is Goodie or MG.
- Adelle Leonce had no idea how big the ADOW fandom was. She had also not researched for her role initially.
- Ed Bluemel says that Marcus is very horny this season after spending a majority of season one looking at blood work in the lab.
- Bluemel cheekily said that his favorite character apart from his own is Phoebe Taylor because she has great taste in men and he has a lot of respect for her because of that.
- Steven Cree talks about a very challenging scene to film that he remembers because it was very hot, he was wearing a lot of leather, and he was expected to row a boat in a moat full of lilies. It was very difficult!!
- Adelle really liked that Phoebe had a sassy personality and had a lot of fun playing that. However she does not have a love of antiquities like Phoebe.
- Teresa Palmer’s favorite costume was one she more when her character was meeting the queen because of how beautifully elaborate the neckline was. Her least favorite were the enormous cloaks they wore because it was so challenging when mud got into them while they were walking at times.
- Matthew Goode joked that he tried to get the writers to approve that his character had a passion for golf because he does he in real life.
- Steven also tells a funny story of how he landed a part in the sequel of 300 where he thought he had gotten a lead role but instead got “decapitated Greek marine.”
- Matthew shares a behind the scenes story of where they were filming a scene in a Greek temple and James Purefoy is saying his lines in Greek when one of the crew is holding a smoke machine as if it were coming out of his nether regions while also holding a goat head. Teresa adds that this was all in their line of sight and James did not break character. She and Matthew were on the side uncontrollably laughing.
- Ed mentions how he had a particularly challenging time once where he couldn’t remember his lines for the life of him and it just kept getting worse and worse. His favorite behind the scenes moment though was from filming season one where Matthew kept sliding off his chair in the lab. His favorite moment of season two though was when he learned that his best friend Jacob Ifan was cast as ultravillain Benjamin Fuchs on the show.
- Teresa says that it was challenging to adapt source material with lots of amazing information, loads of back stories, and wonderful engaged character arcs because you lose so much of that on screen.
- Her favorite thing about adaptations is having the ability to connect with the author of the books directly. She loved having Deb Harkness on the end of the phone to answer all her questions about the character because there are so many parallels between Diana and Deb’s life.
Season two of A Discovery of Witches is being released in the UK on January 8, 2021 on SKY and January 9 in the U.S. and Canada on Sundance Now and Shudder.