Ray Wise on Tackling the Iconic Role of Merlin in King Knight

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Twin Peaks star Ray Wise got what many actors would consider the role of a lifetime in the recent film King Knight. The film, a horror-comedy starring Criminal Minds’s Matthew Gray Gubler and Legion’s Aubrey Plaza, centers on the high priest and priestess of a New Age coven of witches. They find themselves disgraced and trying to earn their coven’s respect back after a dark secret from the man’s past pops up. In the movie, Wise plays Merlin, the ancient and powerful wizard, who appears to offer some advice to Thorn (Gubler) in a moment of desperate need.

Wise, with his theatrical background, is able to deliver basically any dialogue in a way that reeks of credibility and earnestness. It’s a skill that benefits him hugely when he takes on bizarre, over-the-top characters…something that he loves to do.

“I actually make an effort to look for that kind of thing,” Wise told ComicBook, adding that two key thing she looks for are “Good writing, and strange characters.”

It wasn’t just the script and the characters that attracted Wise. He jumped on board for the chance to work with director Ricky Bates and Gubler.

“I was very close with Ricky Bates, the writer-director, and I’ve done all of his movies except for Trash Fire,” Wise said. “I did Excision, Suburban Gothic and Tone-Deaf. And then in Suburban Gothic. Matthew Gray Gubler, the guy from Criminal Minds, he played my son in Suburban Gothic. I also did his show, Criminal Minds, one time. And so yeah, those two guys, if they’re going to do it, then I’m going to do it.”

The bizarre take on Merlin — in addition to being one of those aforementioned “strange” characters, gives Wise a chance to play with his authoritative, theatrical voice. It’s similar to his role in Psych, where his character is clearly a bit unhinged, but he’s offering generally sage advice under a funny delivery.

“If it’s something that’s going to be a little difficult and it challenges me, I look forward to that,” Wise said. “In Merlin’s case, I’ve seen a lot of Merlins, and this one is a little bit different. And as soon as I put on that Mickey Mouse, Fantasia costume of the wizard, the character came right out of me.”

You might notice in the clip above that Wise is shot in a way that isn’t exactly flattering, emphasizing every pore and wrinkle on his face and glistening with what looks like sweat. That was a conscious choice, and one that Wise thought was perfectly fitting with his take on Merlin.

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“I think it’s a good exercise in trying not to be so vain about yourself, and just letting things go a little bit, and let it look as real as possible,” Wise said. “That kind of thing. I don’t worry so much anymore about the way I look. Certainly not as much as I did as a young man, but I still feel like I want to look my best. And in this case, I just let it go a little bit.”

King Knight is now available to rent or buy on digital platforms like Vudu, Amazon, and iTunes.

from Ultimate Comic Blog
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