Character breakdowns have emerged for Disney and Ridley Scott's Merlin Saga adaptation, which may start filming this fall. As famous as Scott is for his sweeping historical epics like Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, it's been a hot minute since he worked on a full-blown fantasy adventure. In fact, the last time it happened was in 1985 with Legend. That film disappointed at the box office but has since become a cult title, thanks to its gorgeous visuals and Tim Curry's performance as the Lord of Darkness. However, it seems Scott's been bitten by the fantasy bug again, having signed on to direct the Mouse House's Merlin project.
Written by Peter Jackson's longtime collaborator Philippa Boyens (who co-wrote both the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies), Merlin Saga is based on T.A. Barron's 12-book series about the younger Merlin's adventures, prior to his time mentoring (King) Arthur. Disney's been developing the movie for a few years and brought Scott onboard as director back in January 2018. The filmmaker's going to be working on TNT's futuristic sci-fi TV series Raised By Wolves for the next several months, but it sounds like he's settled on Merlin Saga being his first big screen venture after that.
HN Entertainment has obtained character breakdowns for Merlin Saga and reports that Scott is aiming to begin production sometime this fall, shortly after he finishes on Raised By Wolves. Those who've read Barron's first Merlin novel (which is titled Merlin Book 1: The Lost Years) will recognize these names and details, most of which aren't too different from the original literary versions:
EMRYS (MALE LEAD 12-15). Caucasian. The boy who would become the legendary wizard Merlin. Emotionally erratic. Eccentric. Prone to wild mood swings. Brilliant. Sometimes, he is calm and controlled, thoughtful, with a hint of mad whimsy.
BRANWEN (FEMALE LEAD 30-40): Caucasian. Emrys’ mother.
RHIANNON (FEMALE LEAD 12-20): Open to any ethnicity. Seeks Emrys’ assistance in stopping a terrible blight which is now beginning to kill the forest she lives in.
SHIM (MALE LEAD 20-40): Open to any ethnicity. A dwarf-sized giant, befriend Emrys.
RHITA GAWR (FEMALE LEAD 30-50): Open to any ethnicity. An evil spirit who wants to control Fincayra before moving on to Earth. Enemy to Emrys, the film’s villain.
Judging by these descriptions, Scott's Merlin Saga movie will be based primarily on the first book in Barron's series. HN further reports that the film's current working title is The Lost Years, which only supports that idea. It makes sense; Disney clearly envisions Scott's film as (potentially) the start of a lucrative new franchise, assuming it's a box office success. With twelve books in total to draw from, there's little reason for the studio to rush and try to cover as much of Barron's source material as possible in the first movie alone. It's the same reason why the studio and director Kenneth Branagh's Artemis Fowl adaptation (which arrives this summer) is only based on the first novel about the titular boy mastermind. No doubt, the Mouse House hopes that by having big name storytellers like Scott and Branagh kick things off, these YA fantasy tentpoles will succeed where previous would-be Disney franchise starters (like John Carter) did not.
As for Scott: it's not hard to believe that he plans to move onto Merlin Saga right after he wraps shooting on Raised By Wolves. The filmmaker's moved rapidly from project to project for the last two decades and rarely goes more than a year or two without releasing a new film. And while he's got a few movies in the pipeline right now (including, the Queen & Country comic book adaptation and a Gladiator sequel), Scott's Merlin Saga seems to be farther along in development than the other projects currently vying for his attention. As always, we'll keep you updated on the situation and bring you more details as they become available.
Source: HN Entertainment