How did Colin Morgan get the role as Merlin?

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Monk wearing traditional clothes

In Merlin, Colin Morgan plays a character usually referred to as “The Boy Who Lived”. But how did he get the role? We’ll start from the beginning-

Whenever a child is born in Great Britain, it is customary for that child to be announced to the King. It was during this time that a baby boy with an unusual caul was born and given his soon-to-be title. The name of the family was never disclosed, but many speculated about his future. 

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Morgan’s first foray into acting came via school performances at Trinity College Dublin where he studied law, where he played various parts such as Hamlet and Puck.

Here are some points discussed about How did Colin Morgan get the role as Merlin-

1. He was never supposed to get the role.

Merlin was always intended to be a younger character. Showrunners Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps were looking for someone around fourteen years old, but Colin was nineteen at the time of auditioning. 

Because there were no other young actors who came close to fitting the bill, they decided to make a deal with him instead.

2. He had never read any version of ‘The Sword in the Stone’.

Director Julian Murphy suggested that he read T.H White’s novel upon which the show is based but he didn’t find a lot of time for it as he was already busy with theater work and his law degree at Trinity College Dublin.

3. He had never watched an episode of ‘The Sword in the Stone’.

According to Morgan, he hadn’t seen any version of the film or TV show. Morgan only said 21 and was unaware of his future role as Merlin. Having tried out for it, he was a little surprised that he got it. 

He had not read any part of T.H White’s novel beforehand but was able to audition convincingly because he knew what kind of character Merlin should be and his look changed dramatically throughout the filming process.

4. He first auditioned for Gaius (Merlin’s father).

Morgan originally auditioned for the role of Gaius, the court physician, but they told him they wanted him to play the younger version of Uther, Arthur’s father. He decided to give it a go and was happy with how it turned out.

5. He had no idea that he would become Merlin in our time until much later.

Colin wasn’t told he was playing Merlin until after he had already filmed an episode as Uther’s son – Arthur. 

It was revealed to him at this point that there would be a bit of a special effect between his lip-syncs as Arthur and his lip-sync as Merlin years later when Morgan had grown into the older character.

6. He would have been fine with playing Arthur.

Colin didn’t initially take the role of Merlin because Merlin is a young character but was convinced to accept the role after they revealed they wanted him to play Arthur as well.

7. He can’t use magic during filming

When he found out he was playing Merlin, it was explained by Murphy that Morgan couldn’t use magic on set and reportedly only used it when performing for the scenes in which he performs magic. 

Colin also doesn’t have any real training in sword fighting and learned how to fight from watching YouTube videos of experts like Andy Serkis, who plays Gollum in Lord of The Rings. Merlin’s sword fighting is reportedly better than it is in the show now.

8. He made plenty of mistakes with his acting during filming.

Colin was known to get angry with the crew when he felt that things weren’t going well on a certain day, for example, or when he felt the script wasn’t being handled well and his acting was suffering from it. 

He would have plenty of tantrums throughout filming which would make things hard for him if he wasn’t able to control himself on set-

9. He’s always on set.

Morgan always makes his way to set, he does not double up on other projects, and he says “this is my first and last job”. He also says that he has to be there to make the right decisions for his character, so it is really important for him to be there. 

The 24-year-old actor also points out that you need someone with the experience of a Merlin who can help run the castle and to tell his son what is going on in Camelot.

10. He had a hard time reading the script.

In season 2, Morgan had a really hard time understanding his script throughout the early episodes because he wasn’t familiar with the lines and it took him much longer to learn them. 

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