A Discovery of Witches Q&A —Matthew Goode On Playing A More Ruthless Version Of Matthew
In A Discovery of Witches, Matthew Goode plays Matthew Clairmont, a cunning, mysterious vampire who finds love with a witch. Season 2 finds Matthew and witch-in-training Diana, in 1590 London, as they continue their search for The Book of Life. In this interview with amc.com, Goode talks about becoming a more ruthless version of Matthew, how Matthew really feels about Kit, and the magic of working with Teresa Palmer.
Q: It’s clear that the Matthew we meet circa 1590 is a different man. Not only in style and costume, but also in demeanor, and the way he carries himself. Can you talk a bit about transforming into this earlier version of Matthew?
A: It's 1590, so they were quite literally darker times. It's medieval. I looked at paintings; they held themselves in a different way, just due to the nature of the clothing. Matthew has evolved up into the 21st century, so he knows that the man in the 16th century is a completely different Matthew. He was much more dangerous as an individual. He hated witches. There was much more warfare going on during those times. They were just much more dangerous times.
So, it's a part within a part. He has to play himself and it's not a very easy thing for him to do. I mean, he's always got pretty good posture, but I wanted him to feel a little more awkward and be a bit more rigid. We were able to give him a beard, and we played with the idea of just making him look like men that we'd seen in paintings.
Q: In speaking with Teresa about Season 2, she said one of the things that’s most difficult for Diana this season, was feeling distance grow between Matthew and her. What was it like working with Teresa on bringing their very complicated relationship to the screen?
A: Working with Teresa—ever since day one of meeting—there was always an unwritten chemistry between the two of us. Yes, they do grow apart in Season 2. If you think about the timeline, they've only been together a month or something crazy like that by the time we're in Season 2. I think he's trying to hide a lot of his past. There are a lot of secrets. There's a lot of depth to him, and he's not ready to reveal that.
I think there's a bit of shame about the fact that he's a torturer, and has to do all sorts of things for Cecil during Season 2. One has to look at what his reasoning for that is. Is it to protect her or is it to protect himself? That's what's always great with Matthew, is that there's always a slight duplicity to his character. But, as ever, playing anything with Teresa was a joy. You get to a point after working with someone for so long, that there's an unspoken relationship that exists that you don't have to work at every day. You can come in and just play the scene, and she bats it back and it's always been a pleasure.
Q: Matthew’s relationship with Kit is another tumultuous one! It’s clear to Matthew that Kit is not happy with Diana’s role in Matthew’s life, and once Kit's distaste for Diana is clear, Matthew shuts him out. Why do you think he shuts him out completely like that?
A: He shuts him out like that because he's a slightly untrustworthy character. So as much as it was fun when they were hanging around together back in the day, he's not the same Matthew. One can understand why Kit is a little off-put at first. The minute Matthew turns up, he's not the same Matthew that he's used to, so he thinks that he has literally been bewitched. But he shows his true colors over the course of Season 2, and Matthew has to shut him out of his life because he doesn't know who Kit's going to talk to. One has to remember that he was also working for Cecil. When someone's got loose lips, it puts not only his life in danger, but also Diana's life in danger too. So that's why he shuts him out.
Q: You and Tom Hughes have had the chance to work together before. What was it like crafting this contentious relationship with him?
A: It's always lovely seeing Tom. He's a really fine actor and what he did with Kit was great. There was a beautiful awkwardness and strangeness to this character, so I felt like I discovered Kit in a similar way to how Matthew would. It was lovely to see Tom again, and yet it wasn't the Tom that I knew. Maybe Tom also thought, "Well, this is a character that I haven't seen Matthew play," so there was a wee bit of art imitating life—a fraction.
We've got an incredible cast of loads of really terrific actors coming in every single day, so this job has always been an embarrassment of riches really. You have some beautiful casting. From Season 1 you have fantastic people like Lindsay Duncan, and to get Sheila Hancock to come in this season at the age of 85 was just joyous. She's got a beautiful face, and to have that lived-in, intelligent face present, it just lifts characters. Sheila was a real highlight of Season 2, I thought.
Q: This season as Diana moves more into her powers, it becomes clear that she can fend for herself, and doesn’t necessarily need a man in shining armor. Matthew doesn’t seem to bothered by that, so in essence he is quite a modern man! What do you love most about playing Matthew?
A: That's quite right! And yes, he's evolved. What I like about Matthew is there's always more than one thing going on in his brain. He's a great planner, and when things aren't going to plan, he has to be several steps ahead. So not only are you playing the line that you're actually saying, but your thoughts have to be moving on. He has a great distrust that's been built up over centuries. Not everything is going to go as I see it, so I need a plan A, B, C, and D.
One may smile and smile, and yet be a villain. There's a little bit of that with Matthew. I mean, you have to remember he's killed an awful lot of people. He's suffering from blood rage. He was the family assassin. He's incredibly smart. He's done nine jobs. He's been a doctor, he's been an architect. He's so fully evolved. So that's what's great, is the fact that he's done so much.
Q: If you could timewalk, what era would you want to enter and who would you want to meet?
A: It would be great to get together Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Arnie Palmer for a four-ball. Either that, or I would go back and hang out with David Niven in 1940s or 19450s Hollywood. That would be a lot of fun, because that was when Hollywood was probably at its most banging.
New episodes of A Discovery of Witches air on Sundays at 7/6c on AMC. Full episodes are available to stream now on amc.com, the AMC apps for mobile and devices, and on AMC+. The entire first season is available to watch now with AMC+, which is available through a variety of providers, including AppleTV, Prime Video Channels, DirectTV, Dish, Roku Channel, Sling, and Xfinity. Sign up for AMC+ to stream A Discovery of Witches now on amc.com, on mobile for iOS and Android devices, and on your TV streaming device with the AMC app, available for Roku, Apple TV, FireTV, Xbox One, Android TV, and Chromecast.