When BBC1’s new interpretation of The Musketeers began in mid-January a lot of people question whether the Sunday night 9pm slot was best for this family friendly series. Our reviewer commented The Musketeers dances the thin line between serious drama and Atlantis-style entertainment before toppling into the latter” – isn’t quite so true. While The Musketeers might dip its foot into camp waters now and then, it maintains an earnestness that means the series warrants the primetime Sunday evening slot.
It’s quite impressive that a series of this nature held its own against ITV’s period drama Mr Selfridge which itself grew this year. Perhaps what set this series apart was the impressive production values as our reviewer said, “The production values of The Musketeers are up there with the mammoth Christmas period dramas. The sets feel distinctly foreign (admittedly a lot of it was filmed in the Czech Republic) and it’s got that rather glamorous mud-hole feel; in seventeenth century streets if you were to put a foot wrong it’d be in faeces but the BBC – and ITV – are typically guilty of glossing over the lows of bygone Paris.”
With Series 2 already confirmed fans of this series will have to wait a year for more adventures but today sees the release of the first series on DVD.
The Musketeers DVD and blu-ray release is packed with over 70-minutes of exclusive extras,including a segment called ‘Boot Camp’ where you can see the camaraderie begin as Luke Pasqualino, Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera and Howard Charles learn how to master all the swash buckling skills required to become a musketeer. There are also behind-the-scenesinterviews with the cast and crew, including Peter Capaldi and executive producer Adrian Hodges
To celebrate this four disc DVD release the cast sat down for a Q&A about the series.
PETER CAPALDI – Cardinal Richelieu
Q: What attracted you to this project?
A: It’s just one of those classic stories. When you’re offered the Musketeers, you think “I’m not going to turn that down.” It’s big boots and big hats and good guys and bad guys and fighting and glamour and sexiness. It’s got it all!
Q: Why has the popularity of the Musketeers endured?
A: We keep returning to the Musketeers story because we are really drawn to this band of brothers. It also satisfies our appetite for romanticism. It’s a romantic tale of good-hearted, stout-hearted fellows triumphing over the darker aspects of the world. The Musketeers represent bravery and commitment and loyalty and all those things we like so much!
TOM BURKE – Athos
Q: Is the Musketeers’ friendship equally strong on and off screen?
A: Absolutely. As actors, we have a great camaraderie. That’s really important because it translates onto the screen. When you start a job, there is always an unspoken question: will I become friends with the other actors? You don’t want to put pressure on yourself to get on, but we were really lucky. We instantly hit it off. I think we’re very similar in lots of ways. We have a very similar sense of humour and a similar way of approaching problems. We’re all quite sensible and don’t go headfirst into situations. And, most importantly, we make each other laugh all the time.
Q: How would you describe your character?
A: I love Athos. He is incredibly economical and clear in the way expresses himself. I don’t think he’s the happiest of men, but the joy he gets comes entirely from the other three Musketeers. He’s extremely happy in their company. But we also know that he has a dark side. His desire to be with the Musketeers comes from the fact that he does not want to dwell on something, something so awesomely huge that is permanently in the periphery of Athos’s mind.
Q: Did you benefit from the pre-shoot boot camp?
A: Yes. When I first heard the words “boot camp”, I pictured someone dragging us out of bed at five in the morning to make us do press-ups in a puddle. But it wasn’t like that at all. It was great to brush up on our horse-riding and sword-fighting. It built confidence, got us all fit and above all helped us to bond.
LUKE PASQUALINO – D’Artagnan
Q: Please describe your character to us.
A: D’Artagnan is the young buck. At the beginning, he is hot-headed and doesn’t think things through. But as the series progresses, he becomes wiser. But he still has this great fire and this passion in his eyes. If he needs to shoot someone, he will, and if he needs to talk himself out of a situation, he will. He is very cool.
Q: How did you prepare for all the tremendous stunts you do as D’Artagnan?
A: We had this amazing five-day boot camp in the middle of nowhere. We had to wake early every morning and train together. We had to work on our sword-fighting and horse-riding for seven hours every day. It was a great opportunity for us to bond. It really broke the ice between us four Musketeers. The best compliment is that we were offered stunt doubles at the start, but we haven’t had to use them yet because we’ve done well.
SANTIAGO CABRERA – Aramis
Q: Could you please outline Aramis’ relationship with the Queen?
A: There is an instant connection between them. She’s in an unhappy marriage, and Aramis knows it. He is a simple man with a tendency for romance. When a woman says “no” to him, that makes her all the more interesting. Not only is she an attractive woman, but she is an extremely attractive challenge. They’re both yearning for something which makes it a relationship that audiences will relate to. Aramis’s desire for the Queen also affects his relationship with Porthos who tells them, “This is the Queen we’re talking about. For all our sakes, don’t go there!” Aramis is searching for something genuine in life, and until he finds that, he will keep trying – whether it’s with the King’s wife or the Cardinal’s mistress!
Q: Do the Musketeers work well as a team?
A: Absolutely. What I love is that they depend on each other so heavily. Their own individual personalities get in the way, so as a group they make up for each other’s flaws. They are great fighters and show tremendous loyalty and integrity, but their flaws occasionally pop out. I think that makes them very human and very accessible.
HOWARD CHARLES – Porthos
Q: What drew you to this project?
A: I was really excited about it. The writer Adrian Hodges is paying homage to Alexander Dumas who, of course, was mixed race. Adrian wanted Porthos to be mixed race, too. I saw that as a really groundbreaking approach. I thought that dynamic would work very well and would tell us a lot about different people at that time. I really like the notion that Porthos is someone who has come from the slums and become part of the elite. That’s similar to my own story, and I thought I could bring a lot to it.
Q: Please paint a picture of Porthos for us.
A: I would describe him as born in darkness then finding the light through brotherhood. The Musketeers are particularly important to him because they are the family he never had. If anyone goes against the Musketeers, it’s a personal thing for Porthos. He’s very proud and loses it if people betray him. The only people who haven’t betrayed him are the Musketeers. It’s a great source of pride for him to wear the fleur-de-lis on his arm.
The Musketeers is available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray from bbcshop.com and all good online and high street retailers from 31st March 2014.
PRODUCT INFORMATION: RELEASE DATE: 31st March 2014RRP: £25.52 / £30.63
CATALOGUE NUMBER: BBCDVD 3887 / BBCBD0255
EXTRAS: ‘Creating Their World’, ‘Boot Camp’, ‘Promo’, ‘Muskets, Leather, Corsets and Swords’ and‘Saving Constance