Monday, July 1, 2013

Merlin Knights at Supanova Perth 2013

I promised you all a comprehensive review of all the happenings of the Merlin Knight's this year at Perth Supanova and here it is! Featuring Bradley James, Rupert Young, Eoin Macken and Tom Hopper and including panel reviews, photographs, the Harlem Shake and some candid stories.

It's been a long haul and a good time and I think these guys really brought some good stories and fun; so join me under the cut for the adventures of Knights on Tour.

Please note: While we'd prefer that these photos weren't reposted elsewhere, we're realistic enough to know that a request like that is largely going to be ignored. So to meet everyone halfway, we only ask for a link back to this post, and for our watermark to not be removed. We've covered this event so that everyone who wasn't here got to see what happened, so we like to think that since we're doing the right thing by you guys, you'll return the favour.

Thanks; now for the good stuff!

Supanova's Friday Preview Night featured a Merlin Arthur-less panel. The crowd was entertained by Rupert, Eoin and Tom who bounded onto the stage with all the energy of relaxed young men; rather than jet lagged entertainers who were fresh off a Sydney convention. The atmosphere was very chilled and the boys played with soft toys throughout the panel: a Smurf, a meowing cat and a koala.

I thought this was the most excellent panel of the convention if I am honest. The three displayed a real knack for answering questions; both humorously and genuinely. They talked about how professional Colin and Bradley were and the responsibility they had carrying the show between them. There was a lot of respect for both leading men and genuine affection which was excellent. That didn't mean that they were above pranks or jokes though. When a lady commented on how tall they all were and how Bradley was also tall but much shorter than the three of them Tom said: "We got Bradley from the Shire".

They were also well and truly able to poke fun at each other and at themselves. Tom told the funniest story of the night about his most embarrassing experience on set. He was tied between trees in the last episode of the final season and as he pulled on them and roared for the scene; he passed out. When he came to and realised where he was... well, anyone can guess how he must have felt!

But he wasn't the only one admitting to embarrassing situations. They talked about an episode where Rupert had to deliver a line like "No one's going to survive that!" and it was so stilted and ridiculous that he just couldn't deliver it well. Apparently Eoin has never allowed him to forget it.

Eoin wasn't exempt from the joking or pranking stories either, admitting that in his first episode he refused to run lines with Angel Coulby just to see what she would do, and causing some laughs and laments in the process. Needless to say, they are all friends and have a lot of fun with one another. They still all catch up as often as possible and consider each other friends.

When asked who their favourite character in Merlin was Tom answered "The Dragon" and sparked a mocking session by Eoin and Rupert who said apparently he was obsessed with the dragon. I personally agree with Tom; who or what could be cooler than a dragon? They also talked about the stunt work that they did including horse riding and sword fighting and agreed that Bradley was the best at the sword fighting but that this really helped because going up against someone who knows what they are doing makes the whole experience far easier and safer. Eoin and Rupert said they actually had a really hard sword fight together that left them both very frazzled and that they learned a lot from in future fights.

Speaking of swords, when asked if they had taken anything from the set Tom and Rupert chided Eoin for taking his swords when he wasn’t supposed to. They thought he snuck it out in his trouser leg. Rupert said that the things he most wanted were his sword and his cloak because after wearing them for so long they felt like they held special significance. Sadly they were not allowed to take the horses.

As the night continued the craziness set in with stories about rearing horses and snakes in the grass being so poorly phrased that Rupert had to stop while the crowd, Eoin and Tom laughed uncontrollably. One girl said that she and her friends had a list of words that you can't say when you are angry; one being the word 'bubbles'. She asked if they could get angry and then say it. This caused a lot of confusion in the crowd and onstage alike but true to form by the end of the panel Rupert had pretended to get really annoyed at Eoin and then said BUBBLES! He admitted that this didn't work.

And what did they do between Sydney and Perth you ask? Tom said he climbed a bridge; the bridge in fact! (Sydney Harbour Bridge for any of our non-Australian readers) I am not sure if Eoin did too but Rupert said that all the bridge climbing was far to exhausting so instead he had a coffee or two. Good on you, Rupert.

Finishing off the evening, Eoin took the soft toys that the boys had been using during their panel which had been signed by all of them and said they were auctioning them off for the Starlight Children's Foundation. Eoin explained that they were given to him by fans in Sydney and that it was so nice that people gave them to him, that he wanted to put them to something really special and useful. This way the gifts were used to raise over $1000 for the Foundation and help kids. These guys are good guys.

Of course we were treated to a lot of tomfoolery for the auction process (mostly by Tom... yes) and each winner was given a hug of thanks and a photograph with all three of the guys to go with their new souvenir. It was a good end to the panel and to the night.

Saturday involved some photographs with the Merlin lads.

In the morning, I had a photo with Bradley James who was very kind and took pity on my littleness by manoeuvring me to the white line and crouching while I stood on tippy toes. When it came to my Merlin group shot there was no such luck; Tom Hopper stands at a whopping 6 foot 5 inches to my pitiful 4 foot seven inches. There was a bucket involved when Rupert looked down at me and advised that I take the nice lady who was offering me one's advice. Bradley, of course, immediately thanked her and stood on it himself before theatrically apologising to me and allowing me to hop on. It's an intimidating thing getting on a bucket while surrounded by tall knights of the round table, and when Tom asked how I felt and I replied that I felt like him (being as tall) he comically scoffed and said: "Not quite love". He was right; he was still a full head taller than me. Eoin made sure I was trying not to laugh in the photo by constantly asking me if standing on a bucket was making me feel awkward, right behind my ear. After, when I jumped down off the bucket, Bradley looked around and asked the others where I went; prompting some quizzical looks around for me by all four and laughs from everyone in the booth. They were fun guys and worth the trip if you ever get to have any photos with them or see them in person.

In the afternoon I went to an exclusive Excalibur panel with the four Merlin guests. It was an intimate setting with only a handful of fans. Leaving aside the terrible fan fiction questions; there were some great questions about what the boys did in their spare time and about their acting talents. I asked a question about roles that they had been excited about, other than Merlin, and Tom said that Eoin had written a part for him in his new film Cold that really challenged Tom and that he was really excited about. Eoin wrote the script and said that he was excited to see what people thought about it and that they didn't have the trailer finished in time for Supanova; so keep your eyes peeled for that. Rupert of course said that he missed out narrowly on a role he really wanted in a movie called Cold and how he hoped he would be cast in the sequel Deep Freeze.

Bradley was asked how he dealt with the scene with Colin dressed as an old woman to which he replied that because Colin had practiced the scene and the voice with him before, he knew what was coming and that when you are filming something like that you had to remember that he was interacting with an old woman who was going to save his queen; not a man in his twenties dressed in prosthetics as an old woman. He also talked about Colin's work on stage and being happy for him and obviously proud of his work.

Eoin cracked a lot of jokes as he regularly did throughout the event, but this time he cracked a lot of jokes specifically about AFL being a made up version of football that he doesn't understand. This led to a lot of jibes by Rupert and Eoin in support and good humour while Bradley tried to apologise for the opinions of his countrymen.

Bradley commented that he has loved Australia and the way that people here manage to be enthusiastic and laid back at the same time about things like Merlin and that his experience at the convention itself was laid back and full of really nice people who are really happy that they are all here. To have them have such a positive experience is great for us because we want them to come back! And hopefully bring other like Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby, Anthony Head etc.

Tom said that his favourite episode was the first episode that he was in because it was the first time that all of the knights started to get together and he realised he was about to start working with so many people that he liked and got along with. He also loved that he was there for the introduction of the round table in that episode. Rupert consistently said Lamia because all of the knights were together and it explored them developing into a team.

While many of the knights didn't have a lot of back-story, Bradley said that for Arthur himself he spent a lot of time reading and discussing with the writers and producers where Arthur would go and how he would evolve and that overall he was happy with the development of the series. The others hinted at small pieces of information that they were given to allow them to play their characters but said they didn't invent back-stories and wished there had been more time to explore their personalities and relationships.

In Sydney, they were all given Lions jersey's which they were very grateful for and said that was one of the best fan experiences that they have had.

This intimate little panel was the perfect kind of reward for the extra money that many fans paid and a guarantee of sorts to be able to ask a question if you had one rather than hoping to be chosen in the public panel on Sunday.

Sunday morning included some great candid stories as I got my autographs.

Bradley gave out Tim Tams to his fans as they came up for their autograph and asked how I was going and what I had been checking out at the convention. Rupert had a lot of gifts given to him by fans and we talked about his visit to Perth a long time ago and how he loved Margaret River. Tom asked questions about whether people in Perth like Perth and was conducting a tally. He said that Saturday had a lot of people who didn't love Perth but on the Sunday the Perth love was winning out and that he fell into the Perth loving category. When I asked what other places people had nominated he said that it was between Melbourne and London. I told him that the fact that they were talking to him might have skewed the results towards London which he had to admit was a possibility.

My biggest nerd out was with Eoin though who was tallying how many Australian's would fit in a box and if you would get in a box with The Hoff; I'd like to see the results. I ended up having a great and emphatic conversation with him about A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones, which frequent readers would know, I love a lot. He loves the books and has been getting antsy waiting for the new one. We talked about favourite plot lines and characters and I think I momentarily bought his chagrin for saying that the Starks are getting overrated. I asked who his favourite Stark was and he nominated Jon Snow and then I revealed a little something about a theory as to his parentage that blew Eoin's mind and left him calling after me in dismay. 

The afternoon brought the one and only public group panel with the Merlin Knights and people queued for an hour to get in. Once inside we were greeted by a camera faced over the crowd and we were instructed by Bradley James that we were going to film a Harlem Shake. Oh man; this room of people went wild. Bradley called Kai Owen from Torchwood and Anthony Montgomery from Star Trek out to get involved and the boys all delved out into the crowd. Rupert, Anthony and Kai ventured a little way down the centre while Bradley, Tom and Eoin Monkey-armed, thrusted and jumped at the front. People went nuts; apparently some guys stripped off, I saw a fez be thrown in the air, it was madness. We weren't allowed to stand on our seats. No animals were hurt in the making of this video.

You can find the official video as posted by Bradley James here:

But you can find below some amazing shots by our photographer Jacinta of the Harlem Shake as it was being filmed!

 I can see a tiny TARDIS, a light sabre and a knight! I myself am standing right behind the knight but cannot be seen.

 Check out those glasses!

 More party time for the the people of Perth including Snow White!

 Wow. They are really busting some moves there.

Congratulations all round on mayhem well done. Let's not go to Camelot, it's a silly place.

Perth is never chosen for this kind of awesome, in one week, we're in Avengers comics and doing the Merlin Harlem Shake. Well done Perth!

The Q&A then started with a couple of awry questions including the fan fiction question of the other day causing groans and hisses from the crowd and Bradley simply gesturing and saying "Next Question". I have to say, it's refreshing to see an actor just not buy into these sorts of questions and not apologise for it. He did it well and he did it with the support and backing of his co-stars and friends.

We had some questions from some children; one asking if Arthur still saw Gwen and Bradley explained gently that he thought she meant Angel and yes, the cast often see each other out and catch up. He also commented that he had been really lucky to get along so well with Colin and that they continue to be good friends, and he couldn't have been happier with having a co-star like Colin.

They were asked which character they hated in the show, which they thought about over the course of the panel, and Bradley finally said that the alien-like creature in the beginning of season five didn't really do it for him while Eoin suggested that maybe the easy answer was Morgana because of her character arc.

Bradley explained that sword fighting with people who aren't very good at sword fighting can get quite dangerous and that he had become quite good over time and enjoyed it. In the mean time, when asked if the armour was heavy (and after Tom explained that it was) Eoin managed to liken wearing armour to spaced out kangaroos. It's a gift and one that Rupert incredulously called him out on.

Bradley was asked if he could call the Dragon the way that Merlin does in the show and Eoin dobbed Tom in as the resident dragon enthusiast. Hilariously, Tom did some version of dragon calling that had everyone in the room in hysterics.

Interestingly, Eoin got stopped mid-sentence when answering a question by the others and explained that he had previously gotten into trouble for responses being taken out of context. This prompted the host to ask if Twitter, Facebook and YouTube had changed how actors engaged with their fans and answered questions at conventions. Bradley responded with an unequivocal YES. He said that often comments or jokes can be taken out of context and when written on the internet; there can be repercussions for the actors themselves or for unwitting third parties and that it made doing conventions a lot harder for the actors themselves in being completely candid with their fans. It's an interesting situation and I don't think it can be said that he is wrong. It's a shame because a lot of the social media posting comes from a place of support and sharing but often people don't realise what they are subjecting each other to and how things can be misinterpreted. So please; keep this in mind in the future.

Closing out the panel the boys were asked which superhero they would be if they had the chance. Tom said Iron Man and Rupert said The Hulk. Tom suggested that between them maybe they could be The Avengers and quickly said that Eoin would be the Black Widow.

The trademark humour closed out a wonderful weekend of laughs and them giving generously to their fans. Bradley stayed back until 6pm to make sure that all of the people who lined up had the chance to get their autographs and have the chat that they had waited for.

Thanks to Bradley James, Rupert Young, Eoin Macken and Tom Hopper for coming all the way out to Australia and in particular my home town of Perth. I had a blast.

There will be more photos put up in our Fruitless Pursuits gallery over the course of the week so make sure to check that out for more Merlin coverage, but please do the right thing and play by the rules. If you have any questions about the pictures please contact us.

For more Merlin and photos from the Shake and panels check out our other review posts:

For Supanova 2013: Day 1Day 2 and the A to Z of Supanova

For the Merlin series review: here


  1. The koala in the first photos was what I gave him in Sydney

    1. Good one! Now you know it's gone to a really good cause.

  2. Thanks for such a great review.

  3. Thank you for the brilliant and comprehensive review! The boys have a wicked sense of humour!

  4. Aww how sweet, great review by the way! I definitely would have flown all the way to perth to see them, but unfortunately was not meant to be. It's great seeing this side to them, its clear they have a lot of banter, but all seem really close, which is lovely!! and as for what Bradley said about Colin is so cute <3
    I honestly don't think I could love them any more then i do already!!
    Best cast ever.. :D

  5. They were just as lovely in Sydney! I was volunteering at Supanova and got to spend quite a bit of time with all the boys. The bantering just happens with everyone!

    Also, Bradley almost forgot his cool glasses after his photo shoot and I went chasing after him cause he wanted it for "later" ;P

  6. Thanks for this great report and the photos.

    I was lucky enough to be there all weekend and Bradley, Eoin, Tom and Rupert were fantastic - such friendly, down to earth, nice guys. They were lovely in both the Q&A sessions.

    My main reason for going was to see/meet Bradley James and he didn't disappoint. Judging by the absolutely packed lines for his autograph and sold out photo sessions, I obviously wasn't the only one keen to meet him. How he managed to stay "on" for the entire weekend with the endless hours of fans lined up to see him, I don't know. He's an absolutely top bloke. I hope he comes back for future Supanovas.

    The Harlem Shuffle was a brilliant way to end the weekend. :-)

  7. Man, Eoin was awesome to talk to. Had the best convo with him on the viciousness of kangaroo's. Lol Can't believe they made it to WA (The state of wait awhile). I'm hoping they come back again... maybe with Colin in tow.
    Fantastic day all round.

    1. Was very awesome and hopefully Eoin will come back to promote Cold too! I had the enormous pleasure of meeting Colin in Brisbane last year and I really hope we get more Merlin guests. Katie would be amazing! Anthony Stewart Head!