The Cast and Producers of Carnival Row on Telling a Timely Story Through a Fantasy Lens

Carnival Row — Amazon Prime Video’s new series starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne — drops this Friday, August 30th.

During a press conference at San Diego Comic-Con, series stars Orlando Bloom, Tamzin Merchant and David Gyasi along with producers Travis Beacham and Marc Guggenheim discussed how Carnival Row uses a fantasy world to examine the migrant and refugee crisis. Here is what they shared on the topic.

Orlando Bloom (Rycroft “Philo” Philostrate)

Carnival Row
“[Stepping into this show] was a great gift and opportunity because it was so timely and spoke to a lot of the issues with relevance to what’s happening in the world today. Because we’re in this fantastical world, we’re able to examine with real humanity some of the tragic and desperate situations that are happening in the world with an objective and empathetic view. We’re looking at fauns, or fae folk, so it enables us to step outside ourselves and look at this situation. It was so beautifully handled by Travis [Beecham] and Marc [Guggenheim] in the writing.”

David Gyasi (Agreus Astrayon)

Carnival Row Agreus David Gyasi

“I have two kids, and they’re showing signs of wanting to get into this business. When you want to get into [acting], the best advice that I give people is to go out and talk to people. Listen to them because it helps you get a perspective on life and how humans work. As an actor, when you get an opportunity and a script that feels like it’s speaking about a world that we recognize, it’s a real gift. It’s an honor.”

Tamzin Merchant (Imogen Spurnrose)

Carnival Row Imogen Tamzin Merchant

“There’s a universality to this story. There have been different groups of people around the world that have been persecuted over time. When I read the script, I was struck by how universal it felt. But it also feels very specific to our time. That’s part of its magic. It’s of its own time, but it also mirrors what we’re going through now. There’s a sense of relevance but it feels couched in history as well.”

Travis Beacham (Creator and Executive Producer)

“In writing and shooting this, one of the adjectives that comes up a lot is “Dickensian.” I’ve always been a fan of Dickens, and it got me thinking about [how] he was really good at wrestling with the issues of the times in a way that’s very personal and connected to the character. It tells the story of the struggles that people are going through through the specific struggles of an individual character. Storytelling, in general, is a kind of empathy. It’s finding “what is the story of the ‘other'” whether it’s by gender or race or place of birth. [Carnival Row] is about every potential way that you could subdivide a population and how they interact.”

Marc Guggenheim (Executive Producer)

“A lot of problems that we have as a society stem from the fact that we don’t talk about things any more. It’s considered rude to discuss politics. As a result, we’ve placed ourselves in these bubbles. The nice thing about art is that we can hopefully jumpstart some of those conversations.”

Photos and Video Courtesy of Amazon Studios

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