His Dark Materials season 3 will explore Mrs. Coulter’s backstory

Ruth Wilson in His Dark Materials season 2. Photograph by Courtesy of HBO
Ruth Wilson in His Dark Materials season 2. Photograph by Courtesy of HBO /

Ruth Wilson is probably the best thing about HBO’s His Dark Materials, the network’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s classic fantasy series. She plays Mrs. Coulter, an icy villain with intelligence and ambition to spare.

Pullman’s books paint a vivid picture of Coulter in all her complexity, but we don’t get much backstory on her. We get more in Pullman’s followup trilogy The Book of Dust, which the HBO show has drawn on to fill out scenes sometimes. They’ll continue to do that in the third and final season, which will dive into Coulter’s stormy relationship with her parents.

“It’s quite interesting, because this season we make a reference to her mother,” Wilson said during the BFI and Radio Times Television Festival. “We actually have some sort of outfits that are her mother’s, that are sent to Mrs Coulter. In my head, [she’s] linked up to the Magisterium, the Church. Mrs Coulter’s mother was very much part of the Church. So that actually represents, for her, rules and patriarchy. And I think that Mrs Coulter was always a disappointment to her mother in that way.”

"So I think this whole façade of appearance comes from her mother. There’s a moment where this outfit’s meant to encompass a lot of what we’ve seen before."

We meet Mrs. Coulter’s mother Madame Delamare in the book The Secret Commonwealth. Any parent who produced a daughter like Marisa Coulter had to have some issues, so I’m not surprised there are mixed feelings there. “You’ll see that my reaction to those outfits is not necessarily very nice,” Wilson continued. “Being reminded of my mother again, and her power, and her influence.”

His Dark Materials producers on bringing Mrs. Coulter’s golden monkey to life

The panel also include Brian Fisher, the puppeteer who designed and puppets Mrs. Coulter’s golden monkey dæmon, a vicious creature that is essentially her soul rendered as an animal familiar; everybody in Coulter’s world has them, and few come nastier than that monkey.

“Monkey is a part of me now,” Fisher said. “So I feel quite protective over him and I really care about all the animators and the people that have put Monkey to the place that he is on screen. It’s so many ideas coming together.”

I like that they just call him “Monkey.”

Unfortunately, we still don’t have a release date for the third season of His Dark Materials, but we know it’s coming this year.

Watch the wild trailer for Three Thousand Years of Longing. dark. Next

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