Alexander Dreymon feels like the king of the acting world with his role on the new BBC America series “The Last Kingdom.” He has found every aspect – from casting to stunt scenes – an enjoyable experience.
It started with the audition process, when he and Emily Cox knew from the moment they met that they were going to enjoy working on the eight-part drama. It follows Uhtred (Dreymon), a young warrior and outsider, on a mission to reclaim his birthright. His chief ally is the hard-fighting Brida (Cox).
“She showed me her breasts at the first audition and I knew it was going to be fun to work with her,” Dreymon jokes.
Cox, who obviously didn’t perform the revealing act, gives her “Last Kingdom” co-star a look that cuts as deep as any sword. Despite his joke, Cox begins to talk about how Dreymon is a good actor and nice person.
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The Last Kingdom will retell the history of King Alfred the Great, blending real historical figures and events with fiction.
She stops, holds up her hands to block Dreymon’s face, begins laughing and says, “It’s so hard to talk about you like you aren’t sitting right there.”
This kind of relationship is important to the new series from the producers of “Downton Abbey.” The series, adapted from Bernard Corwell’s “The Saxon Stories” series, blends historical figures and events with fiction, telling the history of King Alfred the Great and his desire to unite many separate kingdoms into what would become England.
Along with Dreymon and Cox, the cast includes David Dawson as King Alfred, Rune Temte as Ubba, Matthew Macfadyen as Lord Uhtred, Rutger Hauer as Ravn, Ian Hart as Beocca and Tobias Santelmann as Ragnar the Younger.
“First of all, I can’t believe they paid me to do this show personally, and I think Emily felt the same way. There were so many moments when we were just sitting on the horse in the forest and running around and having fun,” Dreymon says.
Cox adds that she also was often amazed at what the role allowed her to do.
“I had an ax that I threw. And I killed men with it,” Cox says.
The outdoor experiences filmed in Budapest, Wales and Denmark are different from anything Dreymon has done before. His biggest acting job was playing Luke Ramsey on “American Horror Story: Coven.”
Dreymon also enjoys getting to play such an interesting character in “The Last Kingdom.”
“What I love about Uhtred is that he’s extremely honest, truthful, loyal. He never lies unless it’s for a specific purpose to his enemies. But he’s always got a through line that you can rely on,” Dreymon says. “However, he can be a real (expletive deleted), and I really enjoyed playing the cheekiness of that, the unpredictability, the impulsiveness.”
There’s a lot of action in the series, which means that even when precautions are taken to protect actors, someone can get hurt in an effort to make fight scenes look as real as possible. Stunt doubles were often used, but there were times when the actors had to be in the middle of a fight. Dreymon recalls one scene where the stunt double was hitting him so hard with a plastic ax that he broke the shield Dreymon was carrying.
The only downers about the job, Dreymon says, are the names of the historical figures. There were debates at the beginning of filming as to how the names should be pronounced. That ended when an expert was brought in to settle the disputes.
“We finally got the overall decision from this expert who was, I think, from Oxford,” Dreymon says. “He read out all the names, so all the names that we had learned had to be changed again. And it was a little bit of a mind (expletive deleted) in the scenes because we were so used to pronouncing it a certain way.”
The Last Kingdom
- 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, BBC America