“Castles and danger, sex and excitement”: Matthew Goode on S2 of A Discovery of WitchesWatch full episodes now
As vampire Matthew Clairmont, Matthew Goode is charming all the ladies on the second season of A Discovery of Witches.
Season 2 of A Discovery of Witches, adapted from Deborah Harkness’s bestselling All Souls trilogy, continues the vampire-meets-witch saga of forbidden love as the star-crossed lovers time walk from the present back to 1590 to hide from the Congregation while Diana learns to control her magic.
Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey and The Crown) and Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies, I Am Number Four) reprise their roles as Matthew and Diana, with Saturn Award nominee James Purefoy (Rome, The Following), BAFTA nominee Sheila Hancock (Unforgotten) and Tom Hughes (Prince Albert in Victoria) joining the cast this season.
Season 1 was nominated for Best New Drama at the 2019 National Television Awards and as Best Horror Series by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, after becoming Sky One’s most watched series of 2018 and the most successful series in the history of Sundance Now, leading to its renewal for two further seasons.
Season 2 has an 87% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus praises the leads’ “infectious chemistry” and the show’s “visual splendor.”
We chatted to Matthew about Season 2 of A Discovery of Witches:
Where do Matthew and Diana find themselves at the start of Season 2?
In order to escape the clutches of the Congregation and figure out how much power Diana may or may not have, they must time walk back to 1590. At that time, I was in the guise of another Matthew – Matthew Roydon – who was the head of The School of Night, with characters like Walter Raleigh and Kit Marlowe, both of whom are a big part of Season 2.
Matthew Roydon was Lord Burghley’s right-hand man and, basically, 007 for the Queen. It’s a much darker season and I think we start to see Diana’s character become strong, not only with magic, but in a society that’s very patriarchal.
What challenges do Matthew and Diana face in Season 2?
In Season 1, Diana was a bit of a victim of circumstance. In Season 2, she’s a lot smarter and as a historian, she thrives going back in time. Diana also steps up in the relationship, looking after Matthew mentally because he starts to lose himself. It becomes a proper marriage based on equality.
How similar are you to your character?
I don’t have his intellect, so he wins that one. I suspect we both have similar temperaments. I remember reading an article about Cillian Murphy saying it takes him a couple of months to get out of playing Thomas Shelby on Peaky Blinders. Something similar definitely happens with me.
Who is Kit Marlowe (played by Tom Hughes from Victoria) and why is he important to Matthew?
Kit Marlowe was a famous playwright in the real world and is still a famous one in A Discovery of Witches. He was accused of being a spy. In the book, he also works for Lord Burghley and is part of a ring of undercover agents and The School of Night. He is Matthew’s greatest and closest friend.
It goes pear-shaped because the Matthew of the past hated witches and so Kit, who is a daemon, is wary when Matthew comes back and declares that he’s married one. Because of the ups and downs of their relationship and trust issues, he’s a great foil for Season 2.
What does the addition of historical characters bring to the show?
They add that extra layer of history, which is rather wonderful. It gives it great historical context. I think the way Barbara [Marten] plays Elizabeth I in this is fantastic. She plays her without vanity, and slightly in love with Matthew – probably my favourite portrayal of Elizabeth, up there with [Cate] Blanchett.
Tell us about Matthew’s relationship with Philippe (played by James Purefoy from The Following)?
The relationship between Philippe and Matthew is a tricky one. It was Ysabeau who sired Matthew many moons ago, but Philippe fathered him in a very masculine way. There’s a big secret for the audience in Season 2 around what Matthew’s history is with Philippe.
You have a sword fight in this season…
Yes! There is a big sword fight that takes place between my character and Philippe de Clermont and all hell breaks loose. It’s quite frenetic, some skirmishing, a little bit of injury, some stabbing and then we both go tumbling. I will then get all blood rage-y about it and someone will eventually say, “That’s a wrap. See you in September for Season 3.”
What’s it been like working with Teresa again?
Teresa is the show’s beating heart. She’s my best bud on this and we spend all our time together. If they said they’re going to bring another actor in, it wouldn’t work! It’s one big travelling caravan of Australian/American love! She came back with the fire to push her character and it’s made a big difference.
Season 1 is set in the modern day and Season 2 is largely a period piece. What’s it like to take the show from one period to another?
Everything takes a fraction longer as inaccuracies are not as forgivable. Working on James North’s sets transports you as an actor. If those elements weren’t nailed, I wouldn’t have been able to slip into character as easily.
What was the hardest scene to shoot?
Anything on a horse is difficult when you don’t know how to ride.
What was your favourite scene to shoot?
My favourite scene was one I had no lines in. Purefoy is standing in a Greek temple and being very declamatory and there was a deer’s head on a post with some guy wandering around with it. Teresa and I couldn’t keep a straight face for hours. I was asked to leave the set at certain points!
What can audiences look forward to in Season 2?
As well as the love story, audiences can expect darkness, possible answers on the Book of Life, castles and danger, sex and excitement.
They also have Season 3 to look forward to…