Without a doubt, Carnival Row is centered around Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne’s characters, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its fair share of supporting cast with their own stories to tell. Breaking it down, I’d say the show has four separate plots to follow: Orlando Bloom’s, Cara Delevingne’s, a trio of aristocrats, and finally, a family of politicians who preside over the Burgue.
We have three key characters. First up, we have Absalom Breakspear, played by Jared Harris. His son, Jonah, is played by Arty Froushan. Last up, we have Caroline Ford, who plays Sophie Longerbane, the daughter of Absalom’s main political opponent, as Froushan told me in an interview.
“Well, Sophie is the daughter of the opposition leader in parliament, and in this world that’s a really high-status position to be. Basically, one of the most powerful families in the city.
And, she is the heir to that position in parliament. So she is very important, but she’s had a very horrible, strange upbringing where she hasn’t actually really been out in society at all. Doesn’t have any friends. And her dad is pretty abusive and horrible to her.
So then she enters the story in that position, and then she gains a lot of power very quickly. And knows exactly what she wants to do with that.
So then you see that journey of her trying to get what she wants.”
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It certainly helps Sophie’s character that the current political climate is very volatile, with humans becoming increasingly intolerant with the magical creatures who reside in the Burgue, known as fae. This climate does not bode well for Harris’ character, Absalom, who is Chancellor of the Burgue.
“The Burgue is a city-state of a European-like continent,” Harris told us. “So it’s a fantasy world that sort of exists in a time period similar to the Industrial Revolution.
“And, the city is being besieged and overrun by fae, these fantasy creatures who’ve come from this continent that’s been recently discovered. And, they are beneficial to Absalom initially because they represented cheap labors for the factories.
But, the grounds are shifting underneath him, and sentiments are changing, and I will get the feeling that his days as a political leader are numbered.”
One could imagine that, in this climate, Absalom would love to be able to rely on his son in order to help carry on his legacy and continue pushing his perspective. Sadly, Jonah has few ambitions.
“Yeah, and I play Jonah who is the son of Absalom,” Froushan told me.
“He is the rather entitled, young, I guess, the heir supposedly to the Breakspear legacy.”
Or so his parents hope. Instead of engaging in anything vaguely political, he spends his time carousing the brothels of Carnival Row, and generally sort of pleasure-seeking.
And getting up to no good. So he, yeah, has no real designs on, you know, any seats of power until various things shift quite dramatically. And, he finds himself with a lot more than he bargained for.
He goes from sort of apathy to intense over the course of the season. So, yeah, that’ll lead to a little more.”
Though Jonah’s apathy to politics does pose a bit of a problem for Absalom, that’s not to say it’s the sole main issue. Without a doubt, the politics of the time don’t help, as Harris explained.
“But my feeling about that was is less to do with Jonah being a suitable heir, if you’d like, and more to do with the fact that we are on the wrong side of the issue. We are being out politicked by the Longerbane’s. And anti-immigrant sentiment, anti-fae sentiment that is gaining traction within the Burgue and I’ve been, I lined with the fae, the fae migration, and the exploitation of the fae took too long for me to be able to change that position.”
So, there you have it. A first look at a batch of characters who are set to be important figures in the first season of Carnival Row, which hits Amazon Prime Video tomorrow. In my discussions with the cast, we did get a bit into spoilers, but we’ll be saving that for next week, so be sure to check out the full season this weekend and check back in on some extra insight into the conclusion of the season, and what it can mean for the already-ordered second season!
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