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SYFY WIRE His Dark Materials

Professor X vs. Lord Asriel? James McAvoy on his ‘His Dark Materials’ character fighting others

"Obviously, I don't think he'd even notice Mr. Tumnus."

By Brian Silliman
James Mcavoy in His Dark Materials Season 3

The His Dark Materials saga is filled with fascinating characters, but Marisa Coulter and Lord Asriel might just be the two most interesting. Fans of Philip Pullman’s book series are very lucky indeed, because the televised adaptation — the third season of which premiered on HBO this week — cast two legends in those roles.

For these two calculating and cold characters, Ruth Wilson and James McAvoy are as good as it can get when it comes to casting. Over the course of two seasons, Wilson has found a wicked depth to Mrs. Coulter, revealing things about the character that we never knew were there. McAvoy has had less screen time, but Season 3 is about to change that in a big way. Coulter’s plots continue in Season 3, and Asriel’s long-running plan for domination over the Authority are now at the forefront. War has come, and the two former lovers are right in the middle.

They are certainly a match for one another, but how would the duo fare if they had to face other characters that Wilson and McAvoy have played? Could Lord Asriel defend against Charles Xavier, for instance? SYFY WIRE recently caught up with Wilson and McAvoy in advance of His Dark Materials Season 3, and we got a little silly with some theoretical questions.

Ruth Wilson in His Dark Materials Season 3

Mrs. Coulter is formidable, but how would she fare against Alice Morgan from Luther? Over the course of that show, Wilson made Alice into a lethal force to be reckoned with. She is often too much for John Luther (Idris Elba) to handle, in more ways than one. Would Coulter and Alice get along, or would it immediately turn into a fight to the death?

“I think they'd pretend to get along, and then both sort of plan each other's death,” Wilson said, adding, “It'd be quite fun, actually.”

Looking at McAvoy’s array of characters, how would Lord Asriel fare against Charles Xavier, who he played in four different X-Men movies? Would Mr. Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe even have a chance?

Wilson laughed at the prospect of Asriel facing Tumnus, with McAvoy saying, “Oh, Mr. Tumnus. Obviously, I don't think he'd even notice Mr. Tumnus. I think it'd be one of those things where Mr. Tumnus would come up and be like, ‘Hey, Lord Asriel, it's so lovely to meet you. I've been here for 17 weeks waiting for my appointment.’ He'd be like, ‘F*** off.’”

That is sad for the faun, but what about the mind-bending Professor X? McAvoy continued to oblige us.

“…and Professor X… no, I think Professor X would be a decent ally, but I do think Asriel would probably dominate Charles.”

Charles Xavier is one of the most powerful characters in genre storytelling, so the fact that McAvoy thinks that Lord Asriel could dominate him is no small thing. If he can take one of the most powerful mutants around, then the Magisterium should watch out.

As for Marisa Coulter and Alice Morgan: Best Fiends 4 Lyfe, yes please, we’ll watch ten seasons right now. Watching Ruth Wilson plot against herself has the potential to be the greatest story ever told.

New episodes of His Dark Materials Season 3 premiere on HBO on Mondays.

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