Katie McGrath plays Morgana in Merlin.
Katie McGrath plays Morgana in Merlin.

The bad guys we sympathise with

THE bad guys we sympathise with are often the best ones.

Katie McGrath hopes Morgana is one of those complex, good turned bad antagonists.

In the third series of Merlin, currently showing on Ten, viewers are finally seeing the birth of the evil sorceress.

“I always said I have the best character. From where she starts to where she ends up is poles apart,” McGrath told The Guide on the phone from the UK.

“I always figured there were so many different ways they could make it that she became this dark, evil sorceress. The most emotionally challenging was the second season, which was all about her fear and uncertainty. By the time we get to the third series it's so nice to see her accepting what she is and really embracing it.”

After a year in the woods with Morgause, Morgana sees Camelot as an enemy to those with magic and she's prepared to hurt those she once loved, including her father King Uther.

“Having played her for so long, three years now, I know Morgana so well,” she said.

“I completely understand why she does what she does.

“What I really wanted from this season is that, yeah okay, it's terrible what she's doing but I see her point. She's only trying to protect people like herself. The irony is she's very similar to Uther. Really she's not quite as bad (as him). Why he's the good guy I still don't understand.”

Over the past two series viewers have watched the iconic characters of Merlin, Arthur, Gwen and Morgana progress through their formative years.

McGrath hopes viewers can see her character's point of view.

“I never thought she was that evil,” said McGrath on the phone from the UK.

“She's a product of her circumstance. She has no other option but to be where she is, but maybe it's because I have a personal attachment to her.”

The third series explores the consequences of the vastly different ways Merlin and Morgana cope with their outlawed powers.

Not surprisingly, McGrath is very firmly on the side of Morgana.

“Merlin always had Gaius to steer him in the right way, otherwise I believe Merlin would have gone the same way as Morgana, protecting people like him,” she said.

“He had Gaius and the dragon. He knew his destiny, where as Morgana was lost. It's Merlin's fault that Morgana is the way she is. She asked him for help, it was their defining moment. If Merlin said ‘Okay I'm like you, you'll be fine' then she would have stayed with Camelot.”

As Camelot's future leaders get closer to the destiny viewers know awaits them, the series has matured with them.

“I think it's darker and more grown-up and people like that,” said McGrath.

“It still has all those light moments you come to expect, the fun and comedy that the boys do so well. Moving into the darker, more intense and intellectual has been very good, but also the fact that you're finally seeing the characters develop into what you know they're going to be. When you start to see that people really respond to that. They've been waiting for it.”

The popularity of the fantasy series, both in the UK where is has an average audience of more than six million and in a dozen other countries, continues to astound McGrath.

“It's a very wonderful thought to think so many people have responded to something we film in an industrial street in Cardiff,” she said.

“We essentially do 13 mini-films. That's 13 hours of TV and we film really quickly for TV as well. I look at boys and I'm in major awe of Colin (Merlin) and Bradley (Arthur). They'll have been in before me and finish after me.”

Merlin – Ten – Sunday at 6.30pm

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