James McAvoy reveals he joined ‘His Dark Materials’ as Lord Asriel at the “very last minute”

Another actor was originally supposed to play the character

James McAvoy, who currently stars as Lord Asriel in BBC’s new His Dark Materials series, has revealed that he was a last-minute addition to the cast.

In a new interview with Radio Times published October 28, McAvoy claimed that another actor was originally slated for the role in the television adaptation of Philip Pullman’s best-selling fantasy trilogy.

“It was actually very last minute – I happened to be chatting to the casting director [Kathleen Crawford], who’s a friend of mine, waxing lyrical about how much I love the books, and then they got let down by whoever else was doing it originally,” McAvoy explained.

“So she called me up and said ‘Do you think you can start on Monday?’ That was on the Friday!” he added. Although the Scottish actor didn’t reveal which actor was initially up for the major role, McAvoy said that the BBC production had “possibly been let down by a couple of people last minute”.

But McAvoy was more than happy to board the project, as he’s a fan of Pullman’s novels. “I know that character [Lord Asriel] inside out, I know the books inside out, so I just hit the ground running,” he told Radio Times.

McAvoy added: “I was prepared for it without having to prepare for it. I have a vision of that character, and I have a belief or certain goals and beliefs for what that character should achieve, and what should come across.”

His Dark Materials is overseen by award-winning director Tom Hooper (Cats), and features a cast that includes Lin-Manuel Miranda (as Lee Scoresby), Ruth Wilson (Marisa Coulter) and Anne-Marie Duff (Ma Costa). Logan breakout star Dafne Keen plays the series’ heroine Lyra Belacqua. His Dark Materials premieres on BBC One on November 3.

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