Orlando Bloom Talks ‘Carnival Row’ Season 2 and Why He Loves the Series Ending
Feb 14, 2023
[Editor’s note: The following contains some spoilers for Season 2 of Carnival Row.]In the second and final season of the fantasy series Carnival Row, former police inspector Rycroft “Philo” Philostrate (Orlando Boom) is drawn back in when a series of gruesome murders leads to more questions than answers, as they try to discover who and what is responsible. In a world where humans and creatures already clash, the tension is at an all-time high and Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne) wants to hold someone responsible, as revolution seems inevitable.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Bloom talked about how they didn’t originally go into this series with a set number of seasons in mind, the effect COVID had on the way the final season ultimately turned out, having Philo face his half-human and half-fae nature, working on such incredible sets, the most challenge moment in Season 2, and why he loves the way things wrap up for his character.
Collider: Going into this season, did you know that it would be the final season of the show? Is that something you were aware of the whole time you were doing it, or was it something you found out during the season?
ORLANDO BLOOM: Honestly, there wasn’t a scheduled idea for how far we would take the storyline of the show. It was never clear that we were gonna go X amount of seasons. I didn’t sign on for X amount of seasons. So, when we shut down for COVID and the extensive nature of that, we had shot a big chunk of Season 2, but we didn’t have the full show. What it meant was that, with the lockdown, we could approach it like, “Look, we can go back and look at what we’ve got, and we can really bring home a phenomenal season finale with what the material we have, and then put a great button on it.” With the amount of time that we were shut down for, and then the amount of effects we needed, we went back and shot an extensive period of time to complete the season two finale in Prague. We went back after maybe six months, and with special effects that were needed to go on top of that, it was a blessing in disguise, in many ways. Not only did I get to birth my child into the world – well, not me, but my fiancé (Katy Perry), and I was able to be present for that – but we were also able to polish something that was really special.
I think Erik Oleson has landed all the character arcs for all of these really phenomenal actors and characters. I had the best time, going back and playing with this character. When we meet Philo, at the beginning of this season, he’s stepped into the Row to embrace and accept his fae nature, something that he has hidden his entire life because revealing that secret would have been the end of his life as he knew it. He’s come from these institutions of an orphanage, to the Army, to the police. He’s coming to terms with all of this and embracing it. And then, in the sixth episode of this season, we actually get to physically see both aspects of this character come alive. In my mind, I was playing with this idea of one version of Philo being a bit like Batman while the other one is like the Joker. He’s got this Joker on his shoulder, coming out. I had a lot of fun with that. I just had these ideas of what would his dark shadow side would look like and how that would play out with him, and I wanted to go big with that. I wanted to go bold, and I wanted to show that it had really been running his life and a lot of his decision-making. Whilst this is a fantasy show, life is messy and relationships are messy. There’s nothing straightforward about any of it. It’s not who you are, it’s what you do, and that’s a lot of what Philo is about. He always tries to do the right thing, even if the odds are stacked against him because of his decision-making, or his inner voice, or his shadow self, or the world that’s ultimately unfolding around him.
Image via Prime Video
There’s something so interesting about watching a guy like this character, trying to figure out who he is and what that means because he doesn’t have his wings. He’s also not a cop anymore, but they keep coming to him for help. What was it like to really strip everything away from him that you had learned in Season 1, and then figure out who he is again for Season 2 and build that all over again?
BLOOM: Yeah, that was partly what made it so fun to play. You beautifully articulated it, right there. He’s being pulled back into his past life as a cop, and he’s trying desperately to understand the responsibilities of embracing his fae nature. That’s a very transferable idea for anyone who’s conflicted about decision-making and things that happen in the world, which most of us are, let’s be honest. It’s a great commentary on life, in many ways. People are messy, and that’s okay. That’s what life is. Acceptance is a big part of moving into forgiveness, and that’s a lot of what the show is about for Philo.
Over the first season of the show, it felt like we were starting to really live in this world. And then, with the second season, it feel like these characters are put into the position of having to fight for their world. Do you feel like Philo is ready for that fight? Is it a fight that he’s capable of, or is even he surprised by what he’s willing to do and how far he’s willing to go?
BLOOM: That’s a really good question. Ultimately, Philo is willing to do whatever it takes. It’s one of the things that I love about the character. He’s prepared to do whatever it takes to do the right thing because he’s lived with this lie for so long, and he’s got so much guilt and shame around it, that it fuels him to take responsibility for a whole host of people that other people might just ask, “Why are you doing that?” He feels this sense of responsibility because of his past and because of his history.
Image via Prime Video
This really is such a beautiful show to look at, with such incredible sets.
BLOOM: It was like being on a huge movie set, in terms of the sets, the stage, and the environment. As an actor, you just want somewhere to perform. You want a great stage to work on. And the Row was just beautiful and epic and mercurial, and ever-evolving and changing. And then, being able to go on locations in Prague was really wonderful. It’s a wonderful city to work in, and it was really very special.
This is a show that feels like it not only emotionally drags you through the wringer, but it also physically does, as well. There are some very brutal moments this season and quite a lot of fighting going on. Was there a most challenging scene or sequence to pull off?
BLOOM: I had so much fun in that prison cell, once I decided what the characterization of his shadow self would be. It was challenging to land both of those characters on screen, at the same time, because they’re the different versions of the same person. But once I decided, it was so much fun and I loved it. But he does take a beating, through this whole season. He physically gets into it. When you have such self-loathing, at one point, he just goes out and looks for a fight. He literally picks a fight. He goes into the pub and just wants to let all of that self-loathing out. When you see that, it’s so tragic and beautiful and honest and true, all at the same time.
Image via Prime Video
Since this ended up being your final season, how do you feel about the way things are left?
BLOOM: COVID gave us time to pause and really go back in and think, “Okay, we’re gonna be down for a while, so what can we do to take this and make a season finale like you’ve never seen?” We really were building out the world, as we went along. There wasn’t books that come with this. There were just ideas and thoughts that were built out. Erik Oleson and his team wanted to land a very epic and, I think, phenomenal season finale that I’m really proud of. I like the idea of leaving people wanting more, honestly. These things can go on and on and on, and then people will be like, “Well, that was good in Season 1, or until Season 2, and then it lost its way.” I like the idea that we’re going out with a bang, and we’re giving everyone the bigger and better version of what the show could be, and that makes me feel good.
Without spoilers, how do you feel about where you leave Philo, specifically?
BLOOM: I think it’s appropriate for the character. It’s so true to life and honest, and I love it. It was important that all the actors playing the roles got to play out what they needed. In his process, Erik really listened to what the actors wanted for their characters. For Vignette, it was important to her that she went back to where she came from, but Philo doesn’t have anything to go back to because there was nothing. It was a sham, so where is he going to go now? He’s half-fae, but what does that mean? The ending is so beautifully honest, and I love it. There’s no Hollywood ending, and I love that about it. I love the social commentary aspect, in the way that we wrap it up.
Carnival Row is available to stream at Prime Video.
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