James McAvoy loves explaining all the crazy stuff on His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials. Photograph by HBO
His Dark Materials. Photograph by HBO /

The third and final season of His Dark Materials is right around the corner, and there’s a lot of ground to cover. Will Lyra and Will reunite? Will we see the giant talking polar bear again? Will Lord Asriel finally kill god?

Cause that’s what James McAvoy’s character is trying to do, basically: kill God and free this and all worlds from His authority. It’s an ambitious goal, but Lord Asriel is an ambitious guy. “His greatest strength being his self-belief is also his greatest weakness. It’s his complete belief that he is right, and that his means are justified by the ends that he is aiming for, and the ultimate goal that he is looking to achieve,” McAvoy told Collider. “And that that’s right, no matter what he does wrong. That’s right, because for the greater good, he can commit no wrong you know, and I think that creates a kind of monster.”

That cause doesn’t leave him much room for anything else, including fatherhood. Lyra (Dafne Keen) is his daughter, but we’ve never gotten the idea that they’re particularly close. “I don’t know that he does [love her], to be perfectly honest with you,” McAvoy mused. “I don’t know that he does. I think he will ultimately have to choose whether to be a father or not, but I don’t think he knows her. I think he can admire certain aspects of her personality, but I don’t think — If he loves her, it’s a very distant kind of love to the love that I know, in terms of, if love is not just how you feel, it’s what you do, then he doesn’t love her actively.”

How the mulefa came together for His Dark Materials season 3

Meanwhile, in another world, Dr. Mary Malone (Simone Kirby) encounters mulefa, intelligent creatures with long trucks who traverse the world by using giant seed pods like wheels. Fans have long wanted to see these creatures from Philip Pullman’s books brought to life onscreen, and now it’s finally happening. “I can confirm mulefas are in this season,” said producer Dan McCulloch. “It was a prerequisite, I think, for Philip [Pullman] for making the show. He was very giving as an author, he’s very trusting. He did ask that we create the mulefa and that they do roll on seed pods. So obviously, we took that away, and we work with our team. We’ve created bone structures, we looked at fur, we were trying to build the animal from the ground up.”

As McCullough says, the mulefa are “a major part of the meaning of the books, in essence, the books were summed up in a brilliant way in terms of the creature and the world around it.” Given that, I’m a little disturbed that it sounds as though Pullman had to insist that they appear on the show; it’s not His Dark Materials without the mulefa. But at least the team was thinking about this stuff early, as producer Jane Tranter recalled:

"I remember that someone asked a question about Season 1 and, you know, what frightened you about making Season 1, and I said absolutely nothing. Because I knew that we had the mulefa coming, and that was much scarier. But, in fact, when we got to Season 3, we’ve spent so much time like, ‘Oh mulefa, what are we going to do?’ That actually Joel Collins and Russell Dodgson and their teams, our production designer and visual effects supervisor, sort of already worked it out. And actually, we then realized, okay, but we still got the angels. We still got the Gallivespians, how we gonna do all those? So, ironically, the mulefa landed quite sweetly in Season 3, because we had paced ourselves through the prep work."

And if you’re worried that all of this will be too much to take in — the mulefa, the Gallivespians, the Authority, the angels — you can at least take comfort that James McAvoy had a great time delivering all the exposition. “Usually, I hate exposition,” he said. “But in this show, there’s something really joyful about explaining what the hell is going on, and what it actually means, like what is the dæmon and like, how does it actually work? And what is the Authority and like, how is that Authority, not the creator, but it’s still a god, but is it their God? Is it The God and all that. Unpacking all that stuff is really interesting.”

The weird, wild third season of His Dark Materials premieres on HBO and HBO Max on December 5.

Next. 5 best moments from House of the Dragon (and 5 worst). dark

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