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SYFY WIRE Interviews

Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson on their journey in ‘His Dark Materials’ Season 3 and love conquering all

The journey of Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry is coming to an end, as the third and final season of His Dark Materials begins on HBO Max starting on Dec. 5.

By Brian Silliman
Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson

The journey of Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry is coming to an end, as the third and final season of His Dark Materials begins on HBO Max starting on Dec. 5. Fans of Philip Pullman’s book series may rejoice because they are finally going to see material from The Amber Spyglass adapted to the screen.

Pullman’s third book is big, weird, and utterly heartbreaking. The series is set to be all of the things too, and Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson) are at the center of it all. Their respective traumas in Seasons 1 and 2 have led them this far, and their bond with each other is more important than ever.

SYFY WIRE caught up with Keen and Wilson before the season began to discuss their characters, reading the books beforehand, their challenges, hopes, and more.

Dafne Keen

Both Will and Lyra experienced a great deal of trauma in previous seasons. How does that affect them moving forward now into season three?

Wilson: He’s not a kid anymore, he's a man. And doing that, being able to implement that in the show, has been good. But it was just as important for me to understand that his experiences have made him grow up faster than he normally would've.

Keen: I think the blows softened her as opposed to hardened. They momentarily hardened her and then at the end of the day, they ended up softening her. Meeting Will softened her and made her more considerate and sweeter, and more empathetic than she was in the beginning. What's cool about Lyra is that she isn't a nice character to begin with. She's an arrogant, bratty, slightly annoying 13-year-old and she ends up being a very strong, empathetic, good young woman, which is what makes her so remarkable.

If Will is taking more chances and Lyra is being more empathetic, would that be them taking on each other's traits?

Wilson: I guess so, yeah.

Keen: I think it's rubbing off on each other for sure.

What was the biggest challenge for you when it came to Season 3?

Keen: This is going to sound so obvious, but it's just the challenge is basically trying to make Lyra as similar to the books as possible. I know that all the people watching the show love the books, most of them, and it's just kind of trusting Philip [Pullman] on it. And I just trying to be as loyal to Philip's word as possible and just, yeah, I think that's been the hardest bit, trying to stick to what Lyra is as opposed to going rogue, if that makes sense. With obviously adding a twist to it, my own creative twist. But yeah, just kind of the pressure of how she's so beloved.

Did you have the books on set?

Keen: Well, not with me on set. I'd read them before we'd start filming on each season, I would read each book, so I read all three books before we started filming. I read it, I studied it, I took my notes on it, and then when I got on set I wanted to forget about it because if not, you get in your head and you end up doing a bad job because you're being too self-conscious. Something Picasso would say, “Knowing the theory so that you're able to forget it."

Amir Wilson as Will in Season 3 of His Dark Materials

Will found out the truth of his father’s origins in Season 2. Did that change the way you played the character in Season 3?

Wilson: Yes, I guess that is the way to put it. I mean look, his father gave him the dying wish of taking the knife to Asriel. That's what he's been set on a mission to do that's almost his destiny, and that's a driving factor for him in Season 3. Obviously, he goes to tell Lyra, and Lyra's gone. So that's a whole other issue. He has to make the decision of whether to go with his father's wishes or go with his wishes, which are to find Lyra. And he goes with his own wishes. They go on this crazy adventure into Lands of the Dead, into new and unseen worlds. But that's always in the back of his head, fulfilling what his father does.

Is that a similar journey for Lyra? She has the discovery of who her parents are earlier, but it’s no small thing. Was there a similar push and pull between who she really is, who they are, what they want, and what she wants?

Keen: Yeah. I think what's interesting about Lyra is how horrible her parents are and how surprisingly well she's turned out. And now I think Lyra and Will are the living proof, well actually Will isn't, because Will did grow up with his Mom, but Lyra is the living proof that family is who you choose to be your family. It doesn't necessarily have to be your biological family. Your biological family can be horrible and it's the family that you choose and the people that you decide to love you and to love back that matter.

Speaking of love… the end of the third book, The Amber Spyglass, has one of the most massive heartbreaks in all of fantasy. Can we, unfortunately, "look forward" to that at the end of the series?

Keen: We’re not allowed to say, but wink, wink.

What would you both hope that fans take away from the final season?

Keen: It’s so cheesy. I don't dare say it.

Wilson: Go on.

Keen: Love conquerors all.

Wilson: Love conquers all. That quote by Dafne Keen: "Love conquerors all."

Keen: I don't think it's a Dafne Keen quote. I really don't think it's Dafne Keen.

Wilson: I just hope everyone enjoys it, I guess is the way to put it. I hope people are happy and I hope people are satisfied… people especially who love the books. I hope you all enjoy it.

Keen: Precisely.

His Dark Materials premieres on HBO Max on Dec. 5, 2022. This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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