Press Archive for 2019
MAUREEN LEE LENKER – February 10, 2019 at 02:54 PM EST

A Discovery of Witches has truly cast a spell over American audiences.

The supernatural drama based on the best-selling book of the same name by Deborah Harkness is making the jump from streaming to network television AMC announced during the Television Critics’ Association (TCA) press tour on Saturday.

Beginning Sunday, April 7 at 9 p.m., the series will be simulcast on AMC and BBC America. It has nabbed a plum spot after the 8 p.m. simulcast of network darling Killing Eve’s second season.

A Discovery of Witches dropped on streaming platforms Shudder and Sundance Now on Jan. 17 and quickly made waves, smashing Sundance Now’s records for total video plays and accounting for more than half of the streaming activity to the platform. Sundance Now also saw its subscribers increase by 30 percent in January in anticipation of the series’ premiere.

Produced by Bad Wolf and Sky One, the series follows Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), a reluctant witch and historian, and Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode) on a dangerous, romantic adventure that ensues after Diana discovers a missing magical manuscript that may unlock the secrets to the origins of witches, vampires, and other magical creatures.

The series already debuted in the UK last fall and has been picked up for two more seasons. Production is expected to begin later this year.

A Discovery of Witches airs simultaneously on AMC and BBC America on Sunday, April 7 at 9 p.m.


‘Kingsman’ Prequel: Matthew Vaughn Recruits ‘Kick-Ass’ Star Aaron Taylor-Johnson

     FEBRUARY 7, 2019  [Extract]

No disrespect to any entertainment reporters across the pond, but when it comes to movie news, the only UK reporter I truly trust is Baz Bamigboye at the Daily Mail. I can’t speak for the rest of that publication, but Baz has a solid track record in my book, so I believe him when he says that Aaron Taylor-Johnson is teaming back up with his Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn for the Kingsman prequel that has finally started production in London.

Baz took to Twitter on Thursday evening to report that Matthew Goode(Watchmen) has joined the cast along with former Bond girl Gemma Arterton, who will be playing someone’s nanny, while Tom Hollander (Bohemian Rhapsody) has been cast in three roles — George V; the Kaiser; and a Russian tsar, all of whom are part of Queen Victoria‘s family tree. Baz also confirmed Collider’s scoop that Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man), Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War) and Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) were enlisting in the prequel, which will star Harris Dickinson (FX’s Trust) and Ralph Fiennes, as well as Djimon Hounsou and Alison Steadman (Orphan Black).

We’d predicted that Vaughn would recruit some of Europe’s biggest stars for his next Kingsman film, and Taylor-Johnson, Arterton, Hollander and Goode certainly qualify.


Image via PBS

Goode will soon be seen opposite Keira Knightley in Gavin Hood‘s whistleblower drama Official Secrets, which IFC Films acquired out of Sundance, and he has also wrapped the indie movie Medieval with Ben Fosterand Michael Caine. He’s repped by CAA, which also reps Arterton along with Independent Talent Group. Hollander is repped by WME and United Agents.


‘Official Secrets’: Sundance Review



Dir: Gavin Hood. US/UK. 2018. 112mins

A whistleblower risks everything in order to do what she thinks is right — even if it ultimately doesn’t make any difference — in Official Secrets, a sturdy, entertaining political thriller that pushes all the right buttons and triggers all the right outraged reactions. Keira Knightley is persuasive as Katharine Gun, a British GCHQ employee who in 2003 leaked a sensitive document in the hopes of preventing her country from invading Iraq — a decision that did nothing to stop that war but found her facing imprisonment. Director Gavin Hood gives the proceedings a rousing electricity, and he’s aided by a cast which leans into the story’s urgency and continued relevance.

This Sundance premiere will inspire comparisons to Spotlightand The Post — not to mention The Report, which also debuted in Park City. Official Secretshas a star-studded cast that also includes Matt Smith, Matthew Goode and Ralph Fiennes, and the film’s moral indignation should find a receptive audience among those who opposed the Iraq War.

There’s still plenty of excitement in watching smart, principled men and women working together to defeat corruption

As the film begins, it’s 2003 and the UK and US are preparing to invade Iraq, their plans waiting on a UN resolution authorising the removal of Saddam Hussein. But as that process slows to a halt, GCHQ translator Katharine Gun (Knightley) receives an email that contains a joint UK-US proposal to find blackmail material on individuals in countries that are part of the UN who have yet to vote. Gun is furious at this discovery — she’s opposed to this war because she knows that Iraq has no links to Al-Qaeda, which executed the 9/11 attacks — and she decides to let the world know about this top-secret operation.

Gun’s decision to leak the document — which attracts the attention of Observer journalists Martin Bright (Smith) and Peter Beaumont (Goode) — is not one she takes lightly. Married to a Muslim immigrant, Yasar (Adam Bakri), who could be deported because of her actions, Gun nonetheless confesses to the crime to save her co-workers from being investigated. But not only does her whistleblowing fail to halt the momentum towards war with Iraq, she could face seriously jail time unless Ben Emmerson (Fiennes), a crusading solicitor, can save her.

Unlike his last film, 2015’s Eye In The Sky, Hood smoothly mixes thrills with political commentary in Official Secrets. And certainly, audiences have seen this kind of journalistic drama before. (Films such as Vice and Doug Liman’s Fair Game have also explored how the West orchestrated its ill-fated invasion of Iraq using specious evidence of WMD.) But Official Secrets’ pleasing familiarity doesn’t diminish the story’s suspense. There’s still plenty of excitement in watching smart, principled men and women working together to defeat corruption, and Hood and editor Megan Gill keep the film moving along at a breezy clip.

Knightley shows real steel as Gun, giving the character a righteous fury as she refuses to sit by while her government conspires to blackmail other countries in order to justify this encroaching war. The Oscar-nominated actress lets us observe Gun’s torn loyalties: on the one hand, she wants to protect her vulnerable husband, but she also must listen to her conscience, which tells her that this invasion is morally wrong. Knightley has a few high-emotion moments, but for the most part her rage is pitched at a slow burn, which makes it more resonant.

Official Secretsspends much of its first half focusing on the reporters’ investigation into this leak, and Smith and Goode make an enjoyable onscreen combo. (Less appealing is Rhys Ifans’ over-the-top performance as cursing, indignant journalist Ed Vulliamy.) But once Gun confesses to the leak, the movie segues into becoming a legal drama, which allows Fiennes to showboat elegantly as Emmerson, whose brilliant mind and serene confidence give Official Secretsa little jolt.

No doubt Hood also wants us to think about the devastating consequences of the Iraq invasion, ending the film with damning statistics about all the fatalities suffered in that conflict. Audiences predisposed to see Katharine Gun as a hero and a patriot — someone who felt she was responsible to the British people, not their government — will be easily sucked into Official Secrets’ stirring drama. It’s bittersweet that Gun’s brave choice ended up being futile, but this movie makes a forceful enough argument that doing something is always better than doing nothing.



He’s that good-looking British guy you’ve seen somewhere before. Maybe he was the love interest, a supporting character, a secondary villain in an Amazon Prime series. You’ve recognized him at awards shows, you’d guess he was a celebrity if you ran into him on the street, but you’re about to have a full-on obsession for the guy.


Because he’s positioned as a total babe magnet in the new fantasy romance A Discovery of Witches.

Yes, we used the word “babe magnet.” Don’t judge us. This is what the beauty of Matthew Goode does to a person.

Goode plays another Matthew on the show, Matthew Clairmont, a biology professor at Oxford. A biology professor at Oxford who just happens to be a 1,500-year-old vampire who’s desperately in love with a witch. Their romance is sweeping, forbidden.

It’s the grown-up Twilight content we’ve all been yearning for.

But we’re not here to gush about soulmates and historic libraries and French castle porn – the show has all of those things but everyone’s talking about them. No, we’re going to dive into a topic left completely untouched by the mainstream media. We’re going to talk about what no one else seems brave enough to address: the sensuality of Matthew Goode drinking a good glass of fine wine.


The thirst is real. But to understand how Goode became so proficient in guzzling the grape juice we have to go back in time and visit another show, The Wine Show.

The Wine Show is a series that pairs Goode with The Americans star Matthew Rhys, drops them in the Italian countryside and asks them to simply enjoy the fruits of being talented, beautiful actors who enjoy the indulgence of quality liquor. Over the course of two seasons, they become vino virtuosos, chatting it up with Michelin star chefs, toasting their shared excellence, sporting fedoras, and untamed beards, cruising around in classic cars, treating us to bits of quintessential British sarcasm.

They’re charming, they’re self-deprecating, they’re high-maintenance, they’re gorgeous, and they enjoy a good glass of wine. They’re the model Brit.

But the show has become more than just a fun jaunt through wine cellars and grape vines, because Goode has used the knowledge he gained during his time as host and transferred it to his character on A Discovery of Witches.

The result: a sophisticated, panty-melting vampire with expensive tastes who makes drinking wine seem like the hottest of foreplay.


Just look at the way his masculine hand grips the stem, the way his lips caress the rim of the glass, the way he tips it back and funnels it down his long, elegant throat – vampires love throats so it’s not weird that we’re fixating on this part of the body okay?!
That is no mere actor playing a role, that is a refined, experience sommelier just itching to break through.Cheers to you, Matthew Goode. You make drinking look so damn good.

MAUREEN LEE LENKER – January 17, 2019 Entertainment Weekly

Matthew Clairmont is an enigma — a centuries-old vampire with vast and unknowable secrets just waiting to be uncovered by witch and love interest Diana Bishop.

And this is what Matthew Goode, who portrays this other Matthew on A Discovery of Witches the new series based on Deborah Harkness’s best-selling novel of the same name, loves about him.

“I love his soul and the fact that he suffers from a condition that he has to repress massively otherwise he will spiral out of control,” Goode says of Matthew Clairmont’s inherent darkness and the “blood rage” condition that pushes the vampire to the brink. “There’s a lot of sadness in his life and yet he’s striving to save creatures, which are waning and losing their powers. I just love him.”

Sky One

Goode, who infuses the vampire with a carefully calibrated blend of intensity and romanticism, says he is particularly enjoying the opportunity to unpack Matthew’s demons. Speaking before the show had been renewed for a second and third season, he expressed a desire to continue along that journey and delve further into the more violent side of Matthew in the past.

Though he was uncertain about taking on a role-playing a supernatural creature, Goode has embraced the part (though he says he’s grateful for Matthew’s generally clean eating habits and lack of fangs). For him, the moments that veer closest to issues of the heart are what he responds to most. “I was very moved by [Diana and Matthew’s] relationship in the book,” he explains. “My favorite thing is the love story really. It’s going to have its ups and its down…Even though it’s a vampire thing, it’s still just a relationship between two people. So I’m having fun exploring that. Yeah, love love love love.”

Matthew Clairmont, in turn, adores wine and has a cellar that would the envy of any oenophile, given that he’s been alive for centuries, and therefore, able to pick up vintages along the way. “I think Matthew Clairmont knows a f–k sight more about wine than I do,” jokes Goode of the coincidental connection.

Every story Goode recounts from his time shooting is full of glee, and it seems like the entire cast and crew are having the time of their lives. Even the more difficult bits have come with plenty of laughs for Goode and his co-star Teresa Palmer, particularly a “bundling” scene book lovers will remember fondly as the first majorly intimate moment between Matthew and Diana, which draws upon a historical custom of sleeping fully clothed alongside another person as a courtship practice.

A Discovery of Witches begins streaming on Sundance Now and Shudder on Jan. 17.

For those of you uninitiated to the tale at hand, A Discovery of Witches focuses on Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), a Yale history of science professor who has gone back to Oxford to research alchemy. While working in the library, Diana retrieves a mysterious book, Ashmole 782, which sets off a chain of events that leads to the reluctant witch discovering her true nature, while also becoming a target for every magical creature who has been searching for the lost manuscript for centuries. It isn’t long before Diana loses faith in her friends and can’t be sure who she can trust anymore as she tries to protect herself, her loved ones and also find answers to the many mysteries surrounding the book and her own heritage.

OK, who are we kidding? Of course Diana knows who to trust. As much as A Discovery of Witches is historical fiction that centers on magical creatures who’ve been hiding among humans in plain sight for thousands of years, this is also a love story. And, while Diana is certainly put off by mysterious, hottie vampire Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode) when he first appears to her, it doesn’t take long for her to trust him with her life, and he quickly comes to trust her with his as the two band together to figure out what Diana can really do and what Ashmole 782 means for the history (and future) of creatures everywhere.

Now, if you think that’s story enough, then you really don’t know A Discovery of Witches. The full scope of the book is (surprisingly) pretty easily included in the series, and this entails vampire / witch / deamon genetics and history, creature politics, vampire family dynamics, ancient prophecies and more. A Discovery of Witches, which comes from executive producers Harkness, Jane Tranter, Ashley Pharoah (Life on Mars) and Julie Gardner (Doctor Who, Torchwood), manages to take what was a sometimes difficult but nonetheless engrossing read and distill all the important bits into eight tidy episodes of television.

I realize that trying to grasp all that A Discovery of Witches covers might make it seem like too much, but one of the best parts of the book, and also the show, is how everything is woven together so that all these seemingly disparate parts make sense as a whole. There are also a ton of characters to be accounted for, and being able to have a clear face to put with a name, creature type and allegiance helps make the story much easier to keep up with on screen.

As you might imagine, Diana and Matthew would have even less time for fun, romancey stuff once she’s launched into this world of duplicitous witches, vamps and deamons if they didn’t have allies. Diana’s always been able to count on her witchy aunts Sarah (Alex Kingston) and Emily (Valarie Pettiford), who still live in her hometown in upstate New York and raised her from the time she was a little girl, and they’re right there for Diana as the danger mounts.

For his part, Matthew has his vampire mother, Ysabeau (Lindsay Duncan), who tries to dissuade both of them from pursuing their forbidden romantic relationship but soon realizes how committed they already are to one another and pledges her, literally undying, support. He also has allies in family caretaker Marthe (Sorcha Cusack), his vamp science team of Marcus (Edward Bluemel) and Miriam (Aiysha Hart), vampire brother Baldwin (Trystan Gravelle), a high ranking creature who’s sometimes torn between his duty to all creatures and to that of his family, and his long-time deamon friend Hamish (Greg McHugh).

For every ally, though, there are several creatures who would do anything to get their hands on Diana, Matthew and what they know about Ashmole 782, including lie, cheat, double cross, kidnap and torture. They’re threatened by a host of vampires and witches, especially Peter Knox (Owen Teale), Satu (Malin Buska), Gerbert (Trevor Eve), Domenico (Gregg Chillin) and Matthew’s spurned lover Juliette (Elarica Johnson).

A Discovery of Witches is filled with strong performances. Goode does a wonderful job of switching back and forth between a menacing and mysterious vampire and the hero / gentle lover Diana needs to help her through this, and stands up to the job of leading man quite well. Buska is a special standout as the witch Satu, who clearly has a love of fellow witches but will go to any lengths to get her hands on Diana, because she thinks it’s the only way to help witch-kind as a whole.

One of the weak spots in casting, unfortunately, is Palmer as Diana. While she does a good job of playing to the character’s defiant, stubborn tendencies and definitely plays the romantic lead well in general, I have to admit to seeing this character very different in my head because of how she was described in the book. As a serious academic, and someone who rows on a regular basis for exercise, Diana was sold as being more mature in the book, as well as being a bit more substantial physically. The show also left out a part of the character I really loved, which is the fact that her hair is always a static-filled mess because of the immense power that hums around her all the time, even though she refuses to try using it. As I said, Palmer isn’t a complete disaster as Diana, I just wish she had more gravitas and physical presence for the part.

And, that leads to one of my (relatively) minor issues with the pace of the story. In general, all of the pieces for this very multidimensional story fit together nicely and flow really well. You get just enough questions and answers for the many layers of mystery in each episode, and are left wanting more when the season ends. But, because Palmer is missing a certain amount of bearing in her role as Diana, the love story actually feels like it moves way too fast. By the time Matthew has to leave Diana for a bit, and she loses her mind to the point where she accidentally calls on powers she didn’t know she had, it feels melodramatic, hysterical and a bit nutty.

There’s really no sense of how many days, weeks or months this story might be taking place over. Because the other parts of the story move so well, it’s not an issue there, but when it comes to developing a romance, even when allowing for vampiric attraction and magic, Diana and Matthew’s complete devotion to each other feels rushed. Now, once they’re clearly together, it’s fine because they do seem to fit each other, but how they get to that point will probably seem sudden to most viewers.

RATING: movie reviewed rating

All in all, A Discovery of Witches is not to be missed, either for fans of the book or fans of romance, fantasy and historical tales. The show premieres on January 17 on Sundance Now and Shudder.


‘A Discovery Of Witches’ Is A Wickedly Good Show That Elevates Itself From Its Genre Predecessors

01.17.19  Uproxx
The simplest way to describe Sundance Now’s latest fantasy epic, A Discovery of Witches, is to dub it a HarryPotter-meets-Twilight crossover for adults.

The headline practically writes itself and it’s the kind of slug that would bait all the clicks on Twitter. The temptation to write the show off as fanfiction for romantically-starved genre-lovers is even harder to deny when you’re looking at the bare-bones of this new series. An Oxford-studying witch, reluctant to use her seemingly limitless abilities, meets a mysterious, otherworldly vampire. Sparks fly, blood cravings follow – it’s the catnip guaranteed to hook disciples of J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyers who have aged enough to be turned off by teenage angst and high school woes. But I’m going to forgo the easy route with this review and instead, give A Discovery of Witches its rightful due.

This show is not HarryPotter-meets-Twilight despite hints of magical prophecies, forbidden interspecies romances and plenty of screen time for historic English libraries and lovely Venetian canals (I could spend this entire review gushing about the lush cinematography and predicting a rise in “French castle” bookings on Airbnb), though it occasionally trades in some of the same tropes.

For instance, the series’ main character is a young witch named Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer) a woman completely unaware of the scope of her powers, thrust into a foreign world of creatures mere humans believe to be folklore, after happening upon an ancient tome that’s been missing for centuries and might just hold the key to the creation of life itself. Diana’s content to bike around her idyllic Oxford campus, shuffle to the picturesque Bodleian library spending hours combing the racks for works on alchemy and the melding of magic and science. She enjoys a pint at the pub, a row on the river, and has absolutely no interest in testing her magical abilities. Her parents were murdered for being powerful witches and that kind of trauma really leaves a mark.

Of course, Diana is a rather passive character in her own life for most of the show’s first season, which means, whether she wills it or not, magic eventually comes knocking and it comes knocking in the form of a book believed to have disappeared hundreds of years ago. Witches, vampires, demons, they’ve all been searching for it, hoping it might explain why their respective species seem to be dying out. Diana’s ability to call the book from the stacks of the Bodleian, seemingly at will, attracts one such creature, a thousand-year-old vampire named Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode).

He’s a geneticist, a professor at the university, one who’s drawn to Diana not just because of the book but because of her powers and their undeniable chemistry. The romance between the two, more than the supernatural happenings, is what feels most worthy of that Twilight comparison. There’s the expected push-and-pull, the will-they-won’t-they, although we all know they most certainly will.

I’ve no doubt Goode spawned the origin of the phrase “tall, dark, and handsome” and he puts in a worthy performance as a world-weary immortal struggling against his own nature and his desire for a woman who is, by all accounts, off limits. It’s no easy task to growl, snarl, and grimace your way through loaded love scenes but the guy’s got an inherent charisma that forces us to forget his character’s darker nature.

Palmer too delivers the kind of bushy-haired, wide-eyed act expected of a woman unearthing long-buried secrets of an underworld she’s been ignorant of for most of her life. She carries the burden of selling this story with ease, flitting between awe and anger, confusion, despair, lust, and intrigue with an earnestness and charm that demands trust from us, the viewers. And the pair has an electric sort of chemistry, an obvious rapport that makes moments when Matthew issues thinly-veiled threats and challenges Diana to accept her true nature much more charged than the pared-down script might intend.

But the show elevates itself from its genre predecessors in unexpected ways.

For one, it’s obviously not content to be defined by its supernatural love story. I say obviously because the amount of world-building, the attention to detail, the time spent with supporting characters often half a world away from the focus of Diana and Matthew is too generous not to be intentional. And that commitment to broadening the scope of this story to include more than just a pair of star-crossed lovers is the show’s secret weapon.

Never would I have guessed that witnessing a group of centuries-old supernatural beings convening on an invisible island somewhere in Italy, arguing over broken covenants and threats of exposure while checking their notifications on their smartphones would’ve been something, I just accepted blindly from a TV show in 2019. But A Discovery of Witches puts in enough groundwork to make even the most laughable of concepts – like a vampire who brags about paling around with Darwin and witnessing the fall of Carthage more than once – just commonplace.

And though everything plays second fiddle to Diana and Matthew’s doomed romance in the show’s first season, there’s a trail of crumbs that suggests there’s more at stake than just one couple’s happiness. Vampires and witches harbor an intense hatred of each other, one born of centuries of bigotry and paranoia, each believing the other is plotting their demise. It doesn’t help that vampires seem to be governed mostly by old, white men while witches, save the exception of a few, are depicted as covens of women, a sisterhood that gains strength from its numbers. And Daemons, a species still shrouded in mystery by the end of season one, contend with their own problems – mental illness, homelessness, and isolation chief among them. There’s a real chance for the show to use these exaggerated characterizations, these supernatural beings, to delve into some truths about humanity, to dig a bit deeper into the ties that bind us all, there’s just not enough time to accomplish all that in the show’s first run.

Which is the biggest gripe I have about A Discovery of Witches. To be fair, it’s a gripe I have about many shows these days: pacing. The series does a fantastic job of setting its scene, introducing us to this world. It takes its time, it crafts interactions between its main characters in a way that doesn’t feel forced or rushed. And then, something strange happens. It’s as if, midway through the season, someone realized they only had four episodes left to cram in an entire back-half of a book and pushed the accelerator so far down, it went right through the car floor. The result: a climax that whips by at breakneck speed, story developments that appear once and then are never seen again, romantic declarations that feel unearned, and stakes that aren’t raised enough to warrant any kind of investment from the audience.

In short, there’s plenty of promise in this supernatural drama. For romance fans, there’s enough titillating conversation, charged sex scenes, and desperate longing to feed fantasies. For genre-lovers, there’s a spark-notes-style guide to otherworldly beings, an inventive altering of history, an imaginative secret society that’s fleshed out enough to be believable. For history lovers, there are ancient Easter eggs galore; for book-nerds, the stacks at the Bodleian should do the trick; for Matthew Goode fans, there’s Matthew Goode; and he’s drinking wine which may also entice some Wine Show devotees to tune in.

And for anyone looking for a satisfying binge-watch, one that’s a bit outside the realm of the normal Peak TV offerings, A Discovery of Witches should conjure up enough excitement to keep you interested.

‘A Discovery of Witches’ begins streaming on Sundance Now and Shudder on Thursday, January 17.


The Vampiric Appeal of Matthew Goode

The Vampiric Appeal of Matthew Goode

It’s said that scent is the sense linked most closely to memories, and in the absence of Smell-O-Vision, I choose to believe Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode). In Sundance Now and Shudder’s supernatural romance, A Discovery of Witches, the Oxford scientist and centuries-old vampire—frozen, fortunately for us, at an extravagantly handsome 37—inhales the wine he’s brought to dinner and sighs out a description as one might a drag on a post-coital cigarette: sugared violets, blackberries from hedgerows, cigar smoke, red currants in brandy. And then he does the same to his love interest.

If the moment captures Goode’s foremost asset—from Match Point to The Crown, he’s made sophistication a come-on—it’s an earlier sequence, on much the same subject, that suggests his urbane Jekyll’s insidious Hyde. After his paramour-to-be, reluctant witch Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), encounters an enchanted manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Clairmont stalks her to a boathouse on the River Cherwell, where the scent of sex is laced with threat. (It’s safe to assume the writers’ room hasn’t seen You.) As he holds her track jacket to his face, there’s genuine menace in Goode’s widening eyes, the flare of his nostrils, the strain in his neck, but the gesture itself is almost pornographic, and I mean that as a compliment: Here the series approaches the withholding allure of Deborah Harkness’ novel, a bodice ripper in which no bodices are ripped. It’s the frankness of their desire, rippling beneath the refined surface, that defines both Matthews, Clairmont and Goode. You want these men to sink their teeth into you, even if it means being devoured whole.

Lucky, then, that A Discovery of Witches—an otherwise unremarkable fantasy, a half-baked Harry Potter for horny adults—knows what it has in Goode’s seductive nastiness. His unblinking stare, pale skin, ramrod nose, and delicate frame suggest Twilight’s Robert Pattinson aged up for mature audiences, and the series excels when it commits wholeheartedly to romantic melodrama: as Matthew swans up the stairs at his country manor, sketching the outlines of his background; as he and Diana flee for his family’s estate, set to an almost embarrassingly earnest rendition of “Go Your Own Way”; as he slips out of his jacket, fires up a phonograph, and spins his mother, Ysabeau (the suitably imperious Lindsay Duncan), in front of their castle’s hearth. That A Discovery of Witches manages to sell such immoderation, and not the “horror” of Diana’s insistent, arachnophobic nightmares or the “suspense” of the shadowy cabal chasing her, known as the Congregation, is thanks to its understanding of Goode’s wary charm. Where it rushes its supernatural elements, eyeing home base before it rounds first, the series approaches Matthew himself with near-relinquished caution, anticipating his rages and persuasions as one does a man’s decisive touch. “What spell have you put on me?” he asks Diana at midseason, though it’s Goode’s presence, not Palmer’s, that binds and gags: One of the thrills of submission, after all, is the risk of self-destruction.

When they’re unwanted, of course, such intrusions are off-putting. Our first sight of Goode’s Philip Durrant, in Ordeal by Innocence, is of sweat beading on his sculpted chest, performing push-ups on a set of parallel bars, but he soon turns out to be a boor/bore, going so far as to piss into a pocket-sized cask at the table while berating his companion for lunch. On the opposite end of the spectrum, against more forceful, prickly partners—Lady Mary, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies)—his subtle slyness, the quaver of mischief in the lines around his mouth, often fails to come through, and he’s left to play the heroine’s handsome sentry. Goode’s sweet spot is period drama, or at least its locales (A Discovery of Witches is a feast of medieval façades), not simply because his brand of rakishness is out of fashion, but because its enchantments are, too. It’s bewitchingly illicit to want the wrong man, and whether middle-class artist, racing enthusiast, vampire, or roué, Goode’s men are almost never the right one.

It’s fitting, in this vein, that the finest application of the actor’s vampiric appeal should come alongside another creature poised on the border between privilege and rebellion: Vanessa Kirby’s Princess Margaret, in the second season of The Crown. In “Beryl,” Peter Morgan’s decades-spanning drama of the Windsors underscores the key feature of Goode’s on-screen persona and uses it, literally, to shine a spotlight on Queen Elizabeth II’s rueful, dissolute sister. The episode’s exhilarating climax features Margaret posing for photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones, whose wiles strip her down to her most vulnerable state before he presses the shutter, but it’s earlier, during their encounter at a society party, that The Crown elucidates Goode’s bristling magnetism. In the way she recoils from his lighter’s flame before leaning into it, in his naughty gossip about the partygoers’ predilections, in his claim to despise convention while seeming to embrace it, Goode’s Armstrong-Jones emerges as an outsider so at ease in the heart of the system he might adapt to it—or blow it up. “There’s a contempt in him,” Margaret reports to Elizabeth over lunch the next day, smiling at the observation. “For me. For us. For everything we represent. I actually think you’d like him. That’s what’s so dangerous about him.”

A Discovery of Witches premieres Thursday, Jan. 17 on Sundance Now and Shudder.

Matt Brennan is the TV editor of Paste Magazine. He tweets about what he’s watching @thefilmgoer.

Sky One; Inset: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images
MAUREEN LEE LENKER  January 16, 2019 at 06:56 PM EST

Matthew Goode has appeared in his fair share of literary adaptations from Brideshead Revisited to Watchmen to Death Comes to Pemberley and more.

But when he signed on to play vampire and scientist Matthew Clairmont in A Discovery of Witchesthe adaptation of the first book in Deborah Harkness’s best-selling All Souls trilogy, he encountered something entirely new — the gift of having the author there on set with you. Harkness served as an executive producer on the series and was highly involved with the production process from start to finish.

“Sometimes, when you are adapting something, it has often been a hindrance to have the person who’s written it there because this isn’t how they imagined it in their heads,” Goode notes. “One of the things she’s been so graceful with is giving this over to an adaptation.”

Goode has also done a fair bit of research on his own. His character, Matthew Clairmont, is a scientist who researches the evolution of creatures (witches, vampires, etc.), DNA, and more. In addition to reading A Discovery of Witches the novel, Goode says he’s dipped into some scientific texts to beef up his subtextual knowledge of Matthew’s career and interests. “I tapped into a little bit of Darwin the other day when I was sitting at home,” he explains. “It is pretty fascinating stuff.”

It was actually Harkness who first had the idea of casting Goode as her dashing leading man. “Debs bizarrely got the idea for casting me because she saw me in some advert for a clothing company,” Goode laughs. “She claims to have seen the stuff I’ve done, but I’m like, ‘It was just the advert.’”

At the author’s suggestion, producer Jane Tranter (Doctor Who) set a meeting with Goode. He admits he was initially uncertain about the project, calling Twilight “ludicrous,” but after speaking to actor pal Bill Nighy, who had played a vampire in the Underworld series, he was convinced to take the meeting. It was Tranter who sealed the deal for Goode, and as luck would have it, displaying her own connection to Harkness’s work is what did it.

A Discovery of Witches premieres on Shudder and Sundance Now on Thursday, Jan. 17.


For Matthew Goode, filming A Discovery of Witches on location in Oxford was a bit of a full-circle moment.

The actor, 40, earned a lot of attention back in 2008 for his leading role in the much-buzzed-about remake of Brideshead Revisited. 

Based on the Evelyn Waugh novel of the same name, the film tells the tragic tale of Charles Ryder (Goode) who befriends the wealthy and eccentric Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw) when they meet as fellow students at Oxford University. Romantic complications ensue when Sebastian bring Charles home to Brideshead to meet the rest of the family, including his gorgeous sister Julia (Hayley Atwell) and his devout mother, Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson). The film, which was first made as a wildly successful miniseries starring Jeremy Irons, put Goode on the map in a major way as a leading man and involved extensive location shooting in Oxford.

The location shoot gave Goode a heavy sense of deja vu. “I did get a flashback when we were filming by the [Radcliffe] Camera because one of my first shots was walking down that lane and boom, that was it,” he explains. “That was my first shot when I was playing Charles Ryder and then there I am again, ten years later, standing almost in the same spot.  It felt really nice actually. I missed Ben Whishaw.”

Sky One/Bad Wolf Productions

Goode spent several days shooting on location in Oxford, filming exteriors around the Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera, Great St. Mary’s church, and other iconic landmarks. He also frequently shot along the Cherwell river and on bridges in the surrounding area, which gave him the opportunity to indulge in some fishing, as well as take in the local pubs while his costar Teresa Palmer was busy rowing.

The actor also marvels at what a beautiful backdrop the university town made for their series. “We caught it at that wonderful time as well, the cusp autumn, and it was just all the trees were perfect,” he reflects. “It just looks magnificent, the color of the stone. It has a really cool vibe, Oxford. It’s full of extraordinary people, some of them completely odd, but wonderful. Especially when all the students are back, it’s a great people-watching place, but the history as well grounds our show.”

For a taste of the Oxford magic, A Discovery of Witches debuts in full streaming on Sundance Now and Shudder beginning Jan. 17.


Extracts from Reviews of A Discovery of Witches with links to full articles:-

A Discovery of Witches Was Created for Hopeless Romantics, and That’s OK  – TV Guide

By Lindsay MacDonald | Jan 8, 2019

For those of you who thought vampire romances were finally going out of style, shame on you. This genre is as immortal as the sexy, emotionally tortured bloodsuckers it’s built upon and will continue to dominate pop culture so long as there are gorgeous (preferably accented) people willing to gaze adoringly into each others’ eyes. And thank God for that, becauseA Discovery of Witchesis basically every hopeless romantic’s dream come true.

Some TV fans (read: TV snobs) might be dismissive of a forbidden love story between a witch and vampire, but for true supernatural/fantasy fans, A Discovery of Witches — which aired in the U.K. on Sky One, but makes its U.S. debut on Sundance Now and Shudder on Jan. 17 — delivers exactly what it promises: love, danger, a little bit of lust and a swoon-worthy story you’ll want to binge over and over again.

In its first season (with two more on the way),A Discovery of Witchesdoubles down on some ever-popular supernatural romance tropes, this time set against the misty backdrop of Oxford University as the autumnal equinox approaches. Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), a non-practicing witch, alarmingly finds herself in the middle of a hunt for an ancient manuscript that even the most powerful witches, daemons and vampires haven’t been able to get their hands on for centuries. One vampire in particular, Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode), finds himself more tangled up with Diana than planned while seeking out the book, and thus a forbidden love story ensues. (If that premise doesn’t immediately draw you in, don’t worry. That just means this series was probably never meant for you anyways.)

A Discovery of Witches does not play coy about the fact that it’s an in-your-face romance story created specifically for romantics. When adapting the novel, there was clearly a conscious decision made to include every stolen glance, brush of the fingers, moonlit walk and passionate encounter that Diana and Matthew shared. Rather than toning down the romance and focusing on the supernatural elements (which many series have done in recent years for fear of being labeled “cheesy”), A Discovery of Witches seemed keenly aware of the fact that, at its core, it’s an overblown love story — and it’s completely fine with that. In fact, it leans right into it from the get-go and never lets up. While the longing looks and cravings for blood might make some roll their eyes, every second of A Discovery of Witchesis pure catnip for fans of this genre, and it’s nice to be able to dive into a decadent love affair for a few hours of escapism at the end of the day.

As for the performances by leads Goode and Palmer, it’s somewhat shocking to realize that in his long and diverse career, Goode has not once played a vampire, raising the pesky question: Who the frack has been asleep at the wheel in Hollywood’s casting department? The phrase “tall dark and handsome” pretty much seems to have been created for him, and the intensity he brings to each scene — whether romantic or predatory — is definitely an important ingredient in making this series so addictive. Teresa Palmer, on the other hand, brings a quiet strength to a character who could have been pushed and pulled and ultimately overshadowed by a narrative that often turned her into a passenger in her own life.


‘A Discovery of Witches’ is a Timely, Genre-Blending Feast for the Senses

By  Waylon Jordan  January 13, 2019 – Ihorror

It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches…

If you are a fan of Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy then you know those words well. If not, you can read them in the opening credits of all eight episodes of A Discovery of Witches.

The Sky UK series, adapted from the first book in Harkness’s trilogy, which aired last year in Britain will make its debut this week on both Sundance Now and Shudder.

Set in a world where humans unknowingly live alongside vampires, witches, and daemons, A Discovery of Witches tells the story of Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), a reluctant witch and historian, who has dedicated her life to the study of the history of science. When she unknowingly calls up a book in Oxford’s Bodleian Library that creatures have sought for centuries, she finds herself sitting on a powder keg whose explosion could rock the entire world.

Enter Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode), a 1500 year old vampire with an interest in genetics and biochemistry who begins keeping tabs on Diana, from afar at first. The two soon find their lives inextricably bound to one another in defiance of the Congregation, the creature governing body, and the Covenant, a strict code of conduct that forbids relationships between the species.

Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode) and Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer) meet for the first time in the Bodleian Library. (Photo via Ian Johnson [IJPR]).

What has been so fascinating since the first novel was released in 2011 is how very real the world that Harkness created seems, and that translates beautifully to the visual medium, largely in thanks to production designer James North’s brilliant sets.

Their world is our world, and their struggles reflect our own.

There is an established hierarchy in the creature realm with vampires and witches struggling for the top spot while daemons, who have only a single extra chromosome that separates them from human beings, simply fight to retain their place at the table.

Over the centuries, this power struggle created and then ingrained bigotry and prejudice among the races.

The nearly indestructible vampires both covet and fear the witch’s power. The witches view vampires and their predatory natures as no better than animals. Both look upon daemons, whose creativity can border on chaos and mania, as “less than”, an attitude that, rightfully, garners no end of resentment from daemons toward the other two.

What a starkly honest mirror it holds up to the world in which we live, and how often we fall prey to the very bigotry that is played out in the series among supernatural beings.

As I mentioned before, James North’s set designs are immaculately arranged. Each location, from Matthew’s ancestral home Sept-Tours to the home where Diana, herself, grew up, is wonderfully textured and gives off the aura of age and history.

For their part, Palmer and Goode embody their characters admirably.

Palmer’s Diana is as intelligent and beautiful as she is stubborn. She never falls prey to the damsel in distress that we’ve seen in so many stories like this one. She chafes against the bindings of a centuries old prophecy to retain her own identity, opening up to Matthew slowly in a way that speaks to the historian’s natural curiosity.

Goode, meanwhile, embodies Matthew as though he was born to play the role. He seamlessly shifts from scientist to poet to hunter to warrior and back again, though that last seems to come less easy to the actor.

The supporting cast of A Discovery of Witches is filled with notable names giving stellar performances. It is also more racially diverse than we often see in shows like this one…

…As a reviewer and avid reader, I am ever-fascinated by the process of adaptation, and series writer Kate Brooke makes interesting and bold choices throughout the eight episodes of the series expanding characters and scenes while trimming other subplots to keep the action of the story moving while stay true to Harkness’s novel.

Those who have read the book know that it is told almost entirely from Diana’s perspective, and while we are certain that there are conspiracies going on around her, we are often left to wonder exactly who is moving which pieces.

Not so, in the series, as Brooke takes us often into the very halls of the Congregation to make us privy to the politics, power plays, and infighting of that governing body, and how their movements ripple through the very existence of the creatures of the world.

My advice to those who are ardent fans of the novels is to relax your grip on the characters and story and allow Brooke, along with series directors Sarah Walker, Alice Troughton, and Juan Carlos Medina, to guide you through this familiar story, even though the path may different than you remember it.

All eight episodes of the series will be available January 17, 2019 on both Sundance Now and Shudder, and I cannot recommend enough that you experience the absence and desire, blood and fear, and the masterful, decadent storytelling of A Discovery of Witches.


Inside ‘A Discovery of Witches’: Interview with Teresa Palmer & Matthew Goode

January 13, 2019 By Funmbi

A Discovery of Witches finally premieres in the U.S. next week! In interviews with Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode, they introduce us to this world and give us a glimpse of what fans can look forward to.

There are several reasons to be glad that 2019 is here; believe me when I tell you that A Discovery of Witchesshould be one of them!

The TV series is finally coming across the pond, and the entire first season of will premiere simultaneously on Sundance Now (AMC Networks’ direct-to-consumer SVOD service) and SHUDDER (premium streaming service for thriller, suspense, and horror) next Thursday, January 17, 2019 in the U.S. and Canada.

Thanks to our friends at AMC/Sundance TV, we were honored to be able to screen the full season of A Discovery of Witches, and I assure you that it’s the quality television we deserve. Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode are a *MAJOR* reason why. These two *ARE* Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont. From the instant they’re are on-screen together, the chemistry sizzles. The tension and UST, the romance and obsession… you can’t help but be drawn in. Their individual storylines are also quite compelling, with Diana struggling with her identity as a witch and Clairmont’s concerns that vampires and other supernatural creatures are in danger of extinction. Book readers, as well as those experiencing A Discovery of Witches for the first time will definitely be satisfied.

To help get ready for the show, we have a series of interviews to share (courtesy of AMC/Sundance TV), starting with Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode!

In the interviews below, Teresa and Matthew walk us through the world of A Discovery of Witches, introducing us to their characters and stories, discussing the process of filming the series, and sharing why fans should be so excited.

***WARNING: The interviews get a bit spoiler-y, so beware!***

Teresa Palmer


How does your character first feel when she sees Matthew?

I think there is something between Diana and Matthew that is otherworldly. It is in the subconscious. They are supposed to be together. She knows immediately that he is a vampire. The first few meetings between them are probably my favourite, because there is this funny dynamic between them where he is really annoying to her and he is amused that he is annoying her. He is charismatic and handsome but there is something she can’t explain in words. She is drawn to him; they’re like two magnets for each other, it’s that really rare quality that you find in your soulmate. There are these twin flames that just have to be together.

What was it like to work with Matthew?

The best. I just love him, I adore him. He is funny and crazy and kooky and always up for a good laugh. One day on set we had a scene where we are talking about time-walking. We have this problem, Matthew and I, we get the giggles and when we have the giggles we can’t stop giggling. So, we ruined take after take. We would almost get there, he had one line to say, we almost made it through and then he lost it! He was on the ground laughing. He is like my brother; he is so cheeky and charming. We just have so much fun together.

What was your favourite location to film in?

The house that is Matthew Clairmont’s home is this big beautiful place called The Old Lodge. They had peacocks walking around in the front yard and a big fireplace as you walked in. It was just kooky, and I completely fell in love with it. Very romantic and magical and perfectly Matthew Clairmont.

How would you sum up A Discovery of Witches?

It is a fantasy love story, it’s dramatic, and funny, and adventurous. It’s enticing and sexy and inspiring.

It’s many things. It’s an incredibly magical adventure with very lovable characters.

Matthew Goode – 

Why did you want to be a part of this project?

I met Jane Tranter, who is a force of nature. I have never met anyone do a better take on a book that is 750 pages in absolute detail. By the end of that meeting I wanted to be a part of it because it sounded like an incredible world to inhabit. I’d never played a vampire before and there is a kind of a dark mythology to it. The whole point of A Discovery of Witches was that it was going to turn that on its head, it’s more about his involvement with this human woman. So, it has a love story and notions about equality. It has a lot to say about the politics of our time.

When people think of vampires and witches they think of Hammer horror and Twilight. What makes A Discovery of Witches different?

There have been many degrees of how people wanted to portray this extraordinary figure. Some of it is like Gary Oldman; the Count Dracula thing, which is great, but that is very Machiavellian and seems a lot darker. What I think is great about Deborah Harkness’s work is that it takes the nuances of that to a greater degree and sees them living in a modern society.

Tell us about your character and what attracted you to him?

Matthew Clairmont is a professor of biochemistry and an expert in genealogy. At the start, he is searching for the ancient manuscript, Ashmole 782. It talks about how vampires, daemons and witches came to be, and he’s been looking for it for hundreds of years. Matthew is so many different things: a chemist, a poet and he is also lethal. He is multi-faceted, but he is without love. So Matthew’s past and his involvement with Diana are confusing for him because he wants the manuscript but then he starts falling in love with her. Matthew doesn’t have all the answers yet and he is an intriguing figure – that’s what attracted me to him. He’s mysterious and charming but at the same time he’s deadly. It’s a lot to play.

Matthew is very guarded when it comes to love. How does he feel about Diana?

When he first meets her his only consideration is that he wants to find the Book of Life. Then, obviously, his opinion of witches is not great because of the wars that have been fought over many centuries. So, he first finds her quite intriguing. I think given the chance he would like to eat her because they are obsessed with witch blood, as witch blood sings to them. That’s how he talks about it: “I can hear your witches’ blood singing in your veins”. He has been training himself not to fall in love again but there is just something about her. When they first met there was a frisson between them. She, like him, does not judge other species. Her mind is also hugely important to

him as it is what intrigues him. She is accepting of him and believes in him. And she is also going through her own journey of being attracted to someone that she isn’t supposed to be, being a witch and all that jazz.

What is the Congregation?

Over time, when humans started to be the ruling class, witches, vampires and daemons realised that if they were going to survive they had to keep the species separate and this council made up the rules of how they should live. Kind of like the Houses of Parliament for creatures. If anybody stepped out of line they’d be punished and have to be dealt with by this council. That is not to say that some of the people on the Congregation aren’t out for their own good. Gerbert, played by the wonderful Trevor Eve, and the de Clermonts have been warring forever despite both being vampires. So a power struggle exists not only between the daemons, witches and vampires but also between many of the families within each species.

On the subject of the de Clermont family: tell us about working with Lindsay Duncan.

She was everything I had hoped. She is one of the greatest human beings I have ever met, she is brilliant, but she is also hilarious. She brings a real gravitas and depth. Ysabeau is quite cold, I mean she is incredibly warm and fun in real life, but on this she is ice cold. She is such a pro, and it is just great to be in scenes with her.

Can you tell us a bit about the dance scene with Teresa?

So we didn’t actually have a lot of rehearsals which was a bit nerve racking. Teresa is a natural. I, on the other hand, have two left feet. She helped me get through it and we had a wonderful choreographer. It ended up being one of my favourite scenes in the entire series. Teresa is really fun to work with, we are like an old married couple now.

What’s the significance of that scene for your characters?

For Matthew, there is a fulfilment of duty as the head of the house, because he loves his mother (Ysabeau) dearly, not to mention wanting to protect her. He is not quite himself when he is there; he is quite reserved and polite because Ysabeau holds a deep wound. The reason he dances with Diana is to try to show to his mother that she isn’t just any old witch and she is special to him.

Could you describe the set?

Two words: James North. I think he is going to be one of the greatest set designers of our time. This is a fantastic set! The Bodleian Library was how we started – James built it and it was staggering, the Witches’ Archive is magnificent. I wanted it to be my office. My favourite set is Sarah and Em’s house. It feels like the house you’ve always wanted to live in in the countryside. It’s just beautiful, the detail is amazing.


Inside ‘A Discovery of Witches’: Interview with Teresa Palmer & Matthew Goode


Review: The young and otherworldly of ‘Roswell, New Mexico,’ ‘A Discovery of Witches’ and ‘Deadly Class’ By ROBERT LLOYD JAN 15, 2019 – LA Times

Genre series for viewers of all ages and all interests — or three, anyway — debut this week across the television platforms. Streaming channels Sundance Now and Shudder offer “A Discovery of Witches” (also includes vampires, demons); …

All have to do with the ill effects of tribalism — a timely and timeless issue — and how love, or at least cooperation across lines, might improve things for all sides. Which is not to say they will be in any rush to fix things; there are second seasons to consider. Funnily enough, the ones with aliens or monsters are more credible than the one without them.

The elegant and satisfying “A Discovery of Witches,” based on the first book of Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, is the classiest of the lot, an expensive-looking British production with a premium cast, including Teresa Palmer (“Hacksaw Ridge”) as scholar-witch Diana Bishop and Matthew Goode (“The Crown”) as Matthew Clairmont, the vampire scientist in her tousled hair. She’s got a pedigree that goes back to Salem, but keeps her powers on the back burner; he’s the scion of an old French line and a one-time pal of Charles Darwin. The action gets underway when Diana, doing research at the University of Oxford, is able to access a book that has been hiding from the world for more than a century — a book everyone in Magicland is suddenly after, like the Maltese Falcon or the “Mad” money Smiler Grogan buried down in Santa Rosita under the Big W.

Puny humans are present only as bit players, and we do not miss them. The focus is on the witches, the vampires and the demons, who don’t get on particularly well. (As a class, none is especially demonic, not even — or perhaps especially — the demons, a marginalized race struggling with a rise in “mental health problems.” But the age of miracles has been passing for them all. (“Once the world was full of wonders,” we hear Matthew say at the top of each episode, “but it belongs to humans now.”) The devil does not come into it, any more than into, say, an episode of “Bewitched.”

Will love be the key to a less bigoted supernatural future for all?

Set in the present day against a background of old places, including location filming at Oxford and Venice, Italy, it has a winning stateliness matched by the actors’ underplaying. There are villainous creatures here, but they are competing for political power or defending a tired status quo in ways familiar from merely mortal dramas. And at the heart of it all is I guess what you’d call a slow-blooming interracial romance. Will love be the key to a less bigoted supernatural future for all?


‘A Discovery of Witches’ Review: There’s More to It Than “Twilight for Grown-Ups”


There are a few lines delivered near the end of the A Discovery of Witches premiere that provide a nice, neat summary of the show’s premise: “Ashmole 782 has been missing for centuries, and yet you were able to call it up. Aren’t you curious why? That book has never appeared to me or anyone else, no matter what we’ve done. Only to you. It could be the key to our survival. So isn’t it strange that the only creature that can summon it is a witch who can’t control her magic?”

That’s basically all you need to know, but if you’d like a little more to go on, here goes: Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer) is the unstable witch in question. By day, she’s a brilliant historian studying at Oxford. By night, she could be an extremely powerful witch, but she doesn’t practice magic because of the role it played in her parents’ death many years ago — she is, therefore, a bit hapless at the dark arts, which manifest in her at random because she can’t control them.

While conducting some of her research, Diana manages to make an ancient tome appear that many supernatural creatures are quite interested in. Vampires call it the Book of Life and hope it can help them figure out why they’re dying out and unable to sire new vampires. Witches think this tome can explain how they came to create vampires so many centuries ago, and therefore figure out how to un-create them.

One vampire who is specifically researching his race’s struggles is Professor Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode), a handsome, brooding, dark-haired stranger who finds himself mysteriously drawn to Diana despite the fact that witches and vampires are not allies, let alone romantically involved. But Matthew just can’t help himself when it comes to Diana. If this sounds a bit like Twilightfor grown-ups, you’re not wrong — Palmer even looks like a blonde Kristen Stewart at times.

If that characterization leaves you cold, then A Discovery of Witchesis probably not for you. But if Twilightis your jam, this is going to be right up your alley. If you’re curious but indifferent to the Twilightcomparison, then still give A Discovery of Witchesa chance, because there are some intriguing threads started in the first couple of episodes.

First, the “grown-up” part of “Twilightfor grown-ups” does give this adaptation of Deborah HarknessAll Soulstrilogy a leg up on the popular YA series by Stephenie Meyer.The stakes are higher and the action is more intense. One of the witches desperate to get his hands on the Ashmole tome is played by Owen Teale, who is none other than Ser Alliser Thorne from Game of Thrones. He makes a formidable figure here, as it quickly becomes obvious he is not a friend to Diana, despite them both being witches. There is also a rogue vampire killing tourists in Italy who seems to be a bit obsessed with Professor Clairmont, which could prove sticky for Matthew and Diana’s budding relationship.

The show is also significantly sexier, scarier and more stylish than the Twilightfilms. The British and Italian backdrops are put on gorgeous display, as are the very attractive array of cast members. As the various threats start to close in on Diana, her powers begin to grow and sharpen along with her nightmares, which also gives the show an exciting and intense feeling of both dread and anticipation.

It should also be mentioned that Diana’s Aunt Sarah plays a a small part in the first two episodes (Sarah is portrayed by Doctor Who and ERalum Alex Kingston). She will surely come into a bigger role once Diana goes on the run from the various factions who think she has stolen the Ashmole tome, which is great because Kingston is always a strong addition to any project.

Not having read the books, it’s hard to comment on whether this is a good adaptation, but one consistent criticism of the trilogy seems to be that it gets off to a slow start. The show definitely takes care of that issue, with the action coming fast and furious. Plus, there is also no risk of becoming attached only to have it unceremoniously canceled; it has already been renewed for a second and third season, so it would appear the entire book trilogy will be gracing Sky One in the U.K. and Sundance Now/Shudder in the U.S.

The bottom line is, give A Discovery of Witchesa chance. It gets off to a solid start, and the promise of time-travel in the subsequent books is intriguing for the upcoming Seasons 2 and 3. Given its many charms, it just may be the next show to cast its spell over viewers.


A Discovery of Witchespremieres Thursday, January 17th on Sundance Now and Shudder.


Why A Discovery of Witches is a series with ‘extra magic dust’ – MAUREEN LEE LENKER  – 

January 11, 2019 

You’ve heard of television magic, but there’s something more arcane and elemental happening on the set of A Discovery of Witches.

In the confines of a medieval fortress, two vampires and a witch hash out the implications of a romantic relationship between magical creatures. Handwoven tapestries cover the walls, and the space bathes you in its ancient scent — a heady blend of stone, musty tomes, and whispers of history with an almost imperceptible hint of magic.

This castle isn’t in the verdant French countryside, but instead on a chilly soundstage in Cardiff Wales, where it shares a wall with a New England cottage and is a stone’s throw from a Venetian witches’ archive and an Oxford DNA lab. In one corner, artists are carving real pumpkins for a Halloween scene, while across the hall the art department makes their own vellum and hand-draws the alchemical manuscripts at the heart of the story like the mysterious Ripley Scroll.

The magic of the old Hollywood studio system is alive and well here as art department, writers’ room, wardrobe, and a bevy of sets butt up against each other — a special kind of alchemy in miniature as producers Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner (Doctor Who) launch their new production company, Bad Wolf, with their adaptation of Deborah Harkness’s best-selling novels in partnership with Sky One. The series aired on Sky last fall in the U.K., but it comes to the U.S. on both Shudder and Sundance Now on Jan. 17.

Harkness’s 2011 novel—which was the first installment in her All Souls trilogy—was inspired by the author’s own workas a historian. She seized upon the early modern world’s inability to separate magic from science and the possibility of continuing to view the world through such a lens. What if, she wondered, vampires and witches were real? How would they operate in today’s world hidden in plain sight?

It’s this almost imperceptible line between fantasy and reality that underscores the television adaptation, making a damp soundstage pulse with the sights and sounds of history and magic. Production designer James North describes it as “fantasy realism,” noting that so much of the series was grounded in real places as described in the pages of Harkness’s books.

“It’s almost like just a slightly heightened reality,” he explains. This naturalism included building a 1-to-1 model of Oxford’s iconic Bodleian library that felt so accurate it brought Harkness to tears. “It’s f—ing staggering,” star Matthew Goode(Downton Abbey) says of the sense of realism on set.

Goode, who portrays Matthew Clairmont, a DNA scientist and centuries-old vampire, explains the story’s grounding in reality drew him to the project. Initially, he was uncertain about playing a vampire, calling the Twilight series “ludicrous,” until friend and fellow actor Bill Nighy (who has played a vampire in the Underworld franchise) convinced him to put his aversion to the supernatural aside. “My favorite thing is the love story. That’s the thing I really enjoy is trying to find the truth that we have in our relationships, our everyday marriages, and then, transmogrifying them and throwing it into a fantastical element,” Goode notes. “[There’s] folklore around these lives, [but] it feels very truthful and normal.”

Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge) portrays Diana Bishop, a historian and witch who has long denied her powers until the discovery of a missing magical manuscript draws her into unexpected danger and romance. Palmer jumped at the chance to play a female lead at the center of a television series that defies expectations at every turn. “I love that she’s really intuitive and hyper-intelligent and warm and open, and she’s a feeler,” says Palmer of Diana. “There are ways that you stereotype an academic. They’re reserved and quiet and very into their study, and I love that she, not dissimilar to Deb [Harkness], is all things – she’s extroverted; she can also be introverted; she can be confident; she can also have her moments of vulnerability. She’s just so complex and layered and sunny, and I wanted to be around her. I wanted to embody this character and live in her.”

Also serving as an executive producer, Harkness made regular visits to set and was an essential source for the entire cast and production team, with many dog-eared copies of her novel scattered about the studio. To play Diana Bishop, Palmer had to learn to row, as well as tackle the ins-and-outs of being a historian. “I got to handle 16th-century books and touch the pages and smell them and just look at the bindings,” she explains. “Deb talked me through it — the things that excite her about old texts and how to have reverence and how to show the book respect, but also get the information that you need.”

Handling a book with respect, while also getting the information you require from it could be the mission statement for A Discovery of Witches, a show handled with such clear love for its source material one could almost say it cast on a spell on everyone involved. As Teresa Palmer puts it, “There’s a little bit of extra magic dust on this series.”


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Reviewer Rating: ★★★★★5 Stars

Streaming Date: January 17, 2019 on Sundance Now and Shudder

When I first learned that the All Souls Trilogy from author Deborah Harkness would become a television series , I became immediately interested. I had heard of the first book, “A Discovery of Witches,” but hadn’t yet read it. After researching and reading snippets of all three books online, I decided to purchase them all. I devoured the books in less than a week’s time and have become completely and hopelessly smitten with the two main characters, Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont, played by Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode, respectively, in the new series A Discovery of Witches.

“It begins with absence and desire; it begins with blood and fear; it begins with a discovery of witches.” This is the opening quote of the series and it is mentioned throughout the trilogy of books. For those loyal to the books, there are a few components that are not well defined in the first eight episodes of season one. Diana is an admirer of tea and consumes “copious amounts” in the books, yet the television series doesn’t clearly showcase that aspect. There are other small nuances that slightly differ from the book, but thankfully the core story arcs and main plot points are wonderfully explored and brought to vivid life.

Whether you have read the books or not, A Discovery of Witches stands on its own merits as an amazing series with great acting, luscious scenery, drama, magic, and of course, romance. For those who have not had the chance to read the books, the series starts with book one titled the same as the series. There are witches, daemons (pronounced like ‘demon.’ Although these creatures are not demonic in the traditional sense of the word), and vampires living among humans. These creatures have been hiding in plain sight but things are changing: witches are losing their magical abilities and not bearing as many children; daemons seem to lean more on the manic side of their unique abilities as creative beings; and vampires are finding it increasingly difficult to sire others. There has always been an understanding among the supernatural species; they are not to mix and mingle, so to speak. There is a formal congregation made up of nine members – three from each species – that governs and enforces the laws. There is prejudice: witches hate vampires, vampires hate witches, and neither think highly of daemons.

Diana Bishop has chosen to ignore the fact that she’s a witch and refuses to use her powers. She is a history professor studying alchemical references and lives her life mostly as a human. Raised in upstate New York by her Aunt Sarah (Alex Kingston) and Sarah’s partner Emily “Em” (Valarie Pettiford), Diana is currently living abroad at Oxford University where she is offered tenure. When Diana requests a very old manuscript called “Ashmole 782,” things begin to change and will never be the same again.

The casting couldn’t have been more spot on for both Diana and Matthew. These two are the heart of the series and having two incredibly talented, charismatic, and (let’s be honest) gorgeous actors to portray them is paramount. Teresa Palmer is Diana Bishop. Palmer embodies Diana’s slight awkwardness and reluctance regarding having and using her magic. Palmer does an impeccable job portraying the subtleties of Diana, including the way she dresses and combs her hair. As in the books, the series showcases Diana’s love of running and rowing.

Goode is Matthew Clairmont through and through. I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing this character. Goode personifies the lithe and gait of what I envisioned Matthew Clairmont to be from reading the trilogy. Tall, handsome, brooding, and a head full of thick, dark hair that you would love to run your fingers through. As a vampire, Matthew Clairmont doesn’t like to involve himself in anything but his genetics work, but when Diana opens Ashmole 782 , magic is felt by all the creatures. Desperate for answers, Matthew knows he must discover who opened the book and where it is now. However, he doesn’t anticipate meeting Diana and the power she would soon have over him.

We meet a few more characters in season one, but I don’t want to spoil things—especially for those who haven’t read the books.

Matthew Clairmont and Diana Bishop

As the season progresses, more information about the manuscript surfaces, and disturbing revelations about Diana’s parents, Rebecca (Sophie Miles) and Stephen (David Newman), come to light. The balance of the species starts to tip when Diana and Matthew begin spending more time together hunting for clues about the mysterious Ashmole 782 manuscript. With the population of creatures in the halls of the Bodleian increasing, their presence puts Diana in danger, especially since she is unable to control her burgeoning magical powers.

[Thanks to @teach463146 on tumblr for finding all of these articles.]




Matthew Goode Knows How to Charm. Just Ask Lady Mary and Princess Margaret.  By Kathryn Shattuck – New York Times  – January 11th 2019


Matthew Goode has always exuded a whiff of danger: the slyly wicked smile. The devil-may-care charm. The sense that something rather naughty lurks beneath his suave exterior.

Which mostly explains why he was cast, no audition required, as Matthew Clairmont, an Oxford genealogist — and 1,500-year-old vampire — in “A Discovery of Witches,” streaming on Sundance Nowand Shudder, starting Jan. 17.

Elegant and erudite with a seductively dark purr, Clairmont analyzes the DNA of witches in his secret lab to determine why their magic is waning. Then along comes the fresh-faced Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), a brilliant historian of alchemy and latent witch who has shunned her own supernatural abilities. But when an enchanted manuscript materializes for her eyes only at the Bodleian Library, she becomes the target of the creatures who hunger for its long-forgotten knowledge. And she also develops into the object of desire for Matthew, who lusts for the power in her witch’s blood, which is unlike anything he has witnessed in centuries.

“Boy meets girl — I’m really taking it down to the center of the Venn diagram,” Goode said drolly. “It’s about the complex relationship between a vampire and a witch, who famously shouldn’t get on, but for some reason sparks fly, while also trying to save all species of weirdos.”

It’s certainly not the first time Goode has devastated the ladies. In 2015 he traded “The Good Wife,” in which he played the prosecutor Finn Polmar — and Alicia Florrick’s romantic interest — for “Downton Abbey,” in which, as the racecar driver Henry Talbot, he thawed Lady Mary’s icy core and swept her to the altar. And last year, in Season 2 of “The Crown,” he snared an Emmy nomination for his turn as Antony Armstrong-Jones, the royally inappropriate suitor and eventual husband of Princess Margaret, who was played by Vanessa Kirby.

Goode, 40, who lives in Surrey with his wife, Sophie Dymoke, and their daughters, Matilda and Teddie, and son, Ralph, spoke over the phone from Britain about the perils of the occult, the coming “Downton Abbey” movie and whom he hung out with on his Christmas vacation.

Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

“A Discovery of Witches” is spun from Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy. Surely there are more seasons.

There’s going to be a second and a third. Teresa has been having a baby, so she’s given the writers plenty of time and no excuses, because we’re not starting again until June. She’s having her third, and I don’t think she’ll stop. She seems like the kind of girl who’s going to have, like, seven, and will have the energy to parent and work at the same time and not turn into, like most people do, someone who’s slightly angry.

Hmm. Sounds as if maybe she took her children to the set and maybe you did not.

One of them was young, so he needed to be breast-fed quite a bit, always at surprising times. We’d be sitting there, having a conversation and wallop — there’s a boob in your face. Crikey! Oh, my goodness, my eyes! And she’d be [in Australian accent], “Oh for goodness sake, it’s just a way of feeding my baby.” And I’m like [in tough voice], “I wish a dingo would steal that so we could get on with some work.” [Laughs.]

Tune in to Season 2 to find out! I don’t want to give too much away, but in the first season, we have a bit of frottage, and that sort of heavy petting might involve a digit, and I really don’t want to go any further.

Were those magic scenes — you bounding after a stag, Diana flying into the air — fun to shoot?

In general, the magic didn’t seem very magic when we were doing it. Because it was actually things moving being attached to fishing wire, or your castmate on a rope. It felt quite low-rent, but it looks fantastic on the screen now that we have special effects. I did manage to break a bone in my hand in the Bodleian Library because for some reason the stunt guy was upset and wasn’t there. So I decided to do it myself. And here’s a little note, children: If you’ve got a really good stunt man standing by, let him do it.

What’s it like to bite a neck?

There’s giggling. Then there’s going hysterical.

I know you’ve been sworn to secrecy about the “Downton Abbey” movie and appear briefly at the end. But Michelle Dockery has described Lady Mary and Henry Talbot as “settled” and “good friends.” Where did the passion go?!

There’s a huge respect between them. He knows that she’s taking on the whole of the estate and everything else. And I would imagine that there’s a sort of rumpy-pumpy pretty frequent between the two of them. They’ve got a kid now, things are good now. They’re settled. He’s working. When he’s not away, he’s in bed with her, I would say, most nights — unless he’s parked out by the decanter, which is where he should be.

Sadly, you’re now too young for Season 3 of “The Crown.”

“The Crown” was a blast, actually. When you’ve got a brilliant actor [like Vanessa Kirby] opposite you and you’ve got great words to say and you’ve got a director like we had, it was just a joy. Ben Caron is really going places. And he’s directing the first four episodes of Season 3, which we shall all watch through gritted teeth because we would still like to be doing it ourselves. If you’ve seen Ben Daniels, he looks amazing as Antony Armstrong-Jones — he’s got the most piercing blue eyes — and I think he’s going to smash it out of the park. I just hope people will judge it for a different era rather than saying what I suspect they might: “Oh, he’s so much better than Goode.” [Laughs.]

I wouldn’t say we’re best friends. We’re very acquainted. I play golf with Jamie. And I see Ben a bit. But I think they would have raised eyebrows if they were like: “My best friend’s Goodie? I mean, I like him.” And I love them both very much. They’re very nice people. What was the question?

So you guys travel in a pack, leaving an awe-struck public in your wake?

It’s so bloody difficult hanging out with any of these other actors, because we’re always off doing a flaming job. I tried to get people together this Christmas for a party, and it proved so difficult I actually just gave up. I canceled the day and it was a real shame. So we went out for some supper with Colin Firth instead.