Beowulf: Return of the Shieldlands exclusive cast interview

ITV’s “Beowulf” Cast & Crew Interviews.

Beowulf: Return to the Sheildlands, is ITV’s brand new drama. It has recently aired on our screens and made a positive impact with critics. The series was inspired by Seamus Heaney’s translation from this epic re-imagining of one of literature’s greatest poems.


Starring, are magificent cast of Actors, including: Kieran Bew (Beowulf), William Hunt (Hrothgar), Joanne Whalley (Rheda), Edward Speleers (Slean), Laura Donnelly (Elvina), David Ajala (Rate) and many others to.

I sat down with the production team and cast members, to grab a few words about this exciting new drama. I began, by speaking with Co–creators and Executive Producers:

Katie Newman and Tim Haines.

How does the TV series relate to the original poem?

Katie Newman: It’s inspired by the poem. Key elements of the poem are in the seires and have influenced us, but most of our characters and places are original adventures.

Tim Haines: The story of Beowulf has changed over the years. It’s only because some one wrote it down at one point that it stopped evolving. But, we’re very faithful to the living poem.

What other key decisions did you make at the outset?

Katie Newman: We wanted our Beowulf to have been a man who has lived, who’s had a family, who has the scars of life to overcome in some way.

Are the theme’s of Beowulf relevant to today?

Tim Haines: Yes. There are themes about more personal things: love, betrayal, family dynamics.

Katie Newman: One of the themes is the fear of the other, in the poem it was ‘man’s fear of nature’.

I also spoke to the cast of Beowulf, starting with its lead Kieran Bew, who plays Beowulf.

How did the role of Beowulf come about?

Kieran Bew: I was really excited when I got the screenplay. I learnt it over two days, taped it and sent in a couple of scenes. I was at my agent’s office when they called an hour later and offered me the job. I was thrilled.

How much do you know about Beowulf before this Drama?

Kieran Bew: About 10 years ago between acting jobs I gave myself a pet project to write about the Norman Conquest. I looked back further to sagas and Icelandic poetry which led me to Beowulf and Anglo–Saxon Britain. A brutal time and the stories are so rich and dark. ITV didn’t know I’d already done all the research. It’s part of our history as Britons. The Beowulf poem itself even spawned The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Did you suffer from any Injuries whilst fighting in Action scenes?

Kieran Bew: I think it was Daniel Craig talking about doing James Bond who said, “If you don’t get bruised playing Bond, you’re not doing it right’. We’re making an action show. I’m fine now. My knee has healed, my eye has healed and my ribs have healed.

I broke three ribs filming a fist fight in a big sequence with our very large stuntman Phil, who’s a lovely bloke. I had an X-Ray a week after the injury. They told me, you have to take painkillers so you can keep breathing.

How did you film the encounters with the Monsters

Kieran Dew: You have to act with huge green blocks, and jump off horses and attack immovable green objects which will later become C.G.I and it looks phenomenal.


Joanne Whalley, plays Rheda.

Joanna Whalley: Whats great about playing Rjeda is she doesn’t really know what she’s doing. It’s all very well being behind the scenes but to step out on to the stage is different. That’s not within her comfort zone. So she has a very difficult path to navigate and lead.

William Hurt, plays Hrothgar.

What appealed to you about this TV verision of Beowulf?

William Hurt: That mix of heroism and frailty. That they abide in the same people.

You have a mother doing the right thing to defend her rights of her child and her idea of power and responsibility coming into odds with the man she really loves.

Why are stories like Beowulf important to us?

William Hurt: They help us understand our lives. They help us grasp the meaning of our exsistence. I myself, as an artist, I don’t so much believe that it’s how we tell stories as how we live them. In other words, when you’re enacting a story, I spend a lot less time thinking of telling it than living it.


Edward Speleers, plays Slean.

What was your initial reaction when you heard about Beowulf?

Edward Speleers: Since leaving Downton Abbey I’ve been trying to do as many varied and different things as possible. Beowulf was massive! I wanted to grab it with both hands. My initial reaction was, ‘I need to read the original poem’. Because I hadn’t read it. I read the screenplay and I was intrigued. Slean is not a type of character I’ve had the chance to play before and I was excited by that.

What can you tell us about Slean?

Edward Speleers: Slean believes he should be Thane of Herot instead of his mother Rheda (Joanne Whalley). He is troubled. He’s trying to prove to his father Hrothgar (William Hunt) he is the man his father wants him to be. He is a smart guy and politically minded. When Beowulf (Kieran Bew) turns up, you can see they have history. He’s jealous of him in every way.

Slean faces opposition to his ambitions. Did anyone every try discourage you from becoming an actor?

Edward Speleers: Yes. I’ve been knocked more professionally than I was growing up. About the age of 10 I wanted to be an actor. I was always getting into trouble at school, and the only medium I seemed to be able to find to get myself out back of trouble was doing a play.

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Laura Donnelly, plays Elvina.

Elvina is an independent woman, Is that unusal?

Laura Donnelly: That was very unusual for this time. Also unusual in any period drama that you get to play a woman who is that strong and knows of her own mind.

But, of course, we’re not dealing with an entirely historically accurate world either because it’s a world of fantast to. Which is wonderful because it allows us to push those typical roles into something else.

David Ajala, plays Rate.

What were your first impressions and how was the casting process for you like?

David Ajala: I remember reading the screenplay, thinking this is a cool gig. I’d love to do this. Originally, I auditioned for the role of Brekah, Beowulf’s best friend. They suggested I audition for the character of Rate. I audtioned for the character of Rate, the next day my agent calls saying that they had offered it to me. Which is fantastic.

The role really just grew, Rate, his journey, and the team have been so wonderful and supportive, it’s been humbling.

You play a dominant role in Beowulf, are you a pussycat in real life?

David Ajala: In real life people say I’m laid back and chilled. I think I am. But, I feel there’s a load of fun and freedom sometimes playing characters that are far from yourself. At the same time you naturally you bring good elements and qualities of who you are to any role. It’s our uniqueness and individuality that brings life to the charaters.

Did you learn anything from playing Rate? Something you can take away from?

David Ajala: Yeah, Ambition. With Rate, he is very vocal and very clear with his intentions. It’s an interesting thing, some one that was just so vocal about being ambitious but who was so digified at the same time. I found that combination really interesting.


Do you feel playing Rate has made you more ambitious, aiming for higher achievements?

David Ajala: Thing about ambition is, ambition can be scary. If ambition is a burning desire within you to pursue. It’s not something that you can just switch off, and there is a part of you that feels incomplete because you are very aware of the feelings burning inside wishing for you to fulfil. That’s why some people can raise the bar, because they have their set standards. Rate, is ambitious and enjoys himself along the journey. He’s a very special character.

How did it feel working within a C.G.I environment?

David Ajala: I mean it’s funny, because it’s just, Cowboy’s and Aliens as a kid. It’s very effortless to tap into that innocence and that freeness child–like quality of just make believe. You’re in a circle of friends, some play the dinosaur and you have to be the little ant running away from the dinosaur.

I think’s the same thing to Beowulf, you’re being chased by monsters that you cannot see. What you see there could be anything: It could be a guy or a monster.

You have to commit to it, you have to be there and it’s taught me a lot about commitment.

Speaking to the Cast and Crew has been an eye opener. Like, Tim Haine’s, mentioned the Beowulf poem has been translated over time. I’ve been watching the new series of, Beowulf: Return to the Sheildlands, and it remind me of Lord of the Ring’s a litte, but for television. Nevertheless, it has lived up to its potential and through its positive feedback from viewers. The series has recently aired in USA since the end of January 2016. Not to worry, the series is still going in the UK and you can catch up with it on The ITV Hub.

Let us know what you think of the series by writing or tweeting us @MarkMeets.

Article by: Ali Armian.

Photographs from: ITV.

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