The legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are worn out raw material at this point. Therefore, a special kind of project is required so that the audience looks at these stories through a new lens and feels fresh again.
That's exactly what Netflix wants to do with Cursed, its new original series that examines the early years of one of the most puzzling characters in the Arthurian legend: Nimue, the woman destined to become the lady of the lake.
Cursed was created by Tom Wheeler and comic legend Frank Miller (300, Sin City) and is based on the couple's novel of the same name. He poses 13 reasons why actress Katherine Langford is the magically gifted Nimue, tasked with delivering a mighty sword to the wizard Merlin while evading the Red Paladins, a powerful cult of religious zealots who embrace the world of magic wants to free.
Forge a new legend
"I knew right away that this would be aesthetically very different from any King Arthur story we've seen before," Wheeler told Digital Trends.
For Wheeler, who, along with Miller, is the co-creator and executive producer of the series, it was the famous picture of a mysterious woman who rose from the depths of a lake to give Arthur the Excalibur sword, which led him to tell the Arthurian legend this particular perspective to explore out.
"(This picture) raises many questions," he said. "Who was she? How was your relationship with Arthur? Did she have the sword in front of her?"
The potential to offer a new window on Arthurian legend, especially for younger audiences at a time when characters like Wonder Woman and Marvel's Black Widow have made the future of action heroes increasingly feminine, also had a certain – and very personal – appeal Wheeler explained.
"The idea of creating a hero for (my daughter) within these stories was very popular with me," he said.
Arthur, examined again
Though Nimue is the focus of the series, it should come as no surprise that the series' powerful, capable heroine crosses the path with another well-known character at the start of her quest: a charismatic mercenary named Arthur.
Devon Terrell, previously acclaimed for his portrayal of a young Barack Obama in Biopic Barry 2016, plays the future legendary king of the series. Although Terrell has not escaped the honor of portraying two of the greatest leaders in recent, real, and ancient literary history, he quickly points out that Cursed is Arthur's role as a minor character in Nimue's story.
"In the imagination, it's often seen from a male perspective. It's very over-sexualized," Terrell told Digital Trends. "I think the great thing about the show is that it doesn't. I was always fascinated by Nimue's character and how I could help her get where she needs to go. I never thought it was the Arthur show. "
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The depiction of Arthur as a colored person naturally gives the character a different twist that Terrell welcomed as it means this to the potential audience of the show and gives him the freedom to make the role his own.
"Every actor who comes to the table to play one of these roles has a different character by nature," he said. "But even as a colored person, the audience automatically has a different perspective on the character, and that's exciting." The more integrative and diverse these worlds are, the larger the audience and the more of us can enjoy this world and how far it can go. "
A wandering wizard
For some actors, it was the iconic status of the characters in the series that gave them a greater sense of freedom to redefine what we know about the famous players in the history of Arthur, Nimue and of course Merlin.
The task of putting the enigmatic magician Merlin on the screen was made easier by the character's long, multimedia history, according to actor Gustaf Skarsgård, who previously delivered one of the breakout performances in History Vikings Vikings and a recurring role in the second season played HBO's Westworld.
Skarsgård described his version of Merlin as "a drunken magician who has lost his magic" and argued that Merlin could have the least amount of luggage, at least from the actor's side, of the many legendary wizards that could be brought to the screen.
"I feel that Merlin has been customized in so many ways that there remains an open playing field as you customize it," he told Digital Trends. "You don't have as strong an impression of Merlin as of Dumbledore or Gandalf or other legendary magicians because he has already been portrayed in so many ways. That relieves the pressure a little."
A living legacy
Still, the show's makers insist that Cursed is still firmly rooted in the issues that keep the Arthurian legend relevant today, despite the myriad of ways they shed new light on King Arthur's saga.
"The (themes of the Arthurian legend) that are eternally (and) the greatest are honor and love," Miller told Digital Trends. "And that is also the birth of civilization, which is embodied by King Arthur and brings order to a barbaric world. And there is competition between nature and technology, embodied by Nimue and the forces directed against it."
Miller said, "These issues have all possible relevance in today's world because they are eternal."
Cursed premiered on July 17th on Tom by Tom Wheeler and Frank Miller with Katherine Langford, Devon Terrell and Gustaf Skarsgård.