Colin Morgan’s career began before he’d even finished his final year at drama school. To stage pieces they had prepared for their final evaluation, final year students were sent to London. There, Morgan was discovered by director Rufus Norris, with whom he made his West End debut in Vernon God Little. That same year, at the Old Vic, he starred opposite Diana Rigg in Pedro Almodovar’s All About My Mother. A year later, he landed the lead role in Merlin. And it feels as though he’s barely stopped working since then.
On the big screen, he’s been in Rupert Everett’s Wilde biopic The Happy Prince, British mystery drama Waiting For You, and the action adventure movie The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Benjamin, currently on release, sees him take on the role of a rising young filmmaker, full of anxieties as he navigates both a new romance and his film’s premiere; as the title character, Morgan is an absolute pleasure to watch.
His television resumé includes Channel 4 sci-fi series Humans, the BBC’s supernatural chiller The Living and the Dead, and a turn as a young gay man, constantly embarrassed by his unexpectedly accepting Belfast mother, in The Catherine Tate Show. Morgan balances this with demanding theatre work — although balance is not something he necessarily goes in for, as he will later explain.
In his most recent West End role, in Brian Friel’s Translations, he played Owen — the lrish boy who returns home with two British mapmakers, as they attempt to map out and rename his home village. When we speak, he’s just finished week one of rehearsals for All My Sons, alongside Sally Field, Bill Pullman and Jenna Coleman. If he’s tired, he doesn’t sound it at all.
TDH: You’ve just begun rehearsing for All My Sons. How is it going?
CM: It’s been a whirlwind. The first week is always like that; so many thoughts, ideas, excitement, anticipation. We’ve been in the rehearsal room, meeting people who will be ‘family’ for the next few months — we will actually see them more than our own families. Particularly with this play, All My Sons, it’s all about being part of a family. So it’s an important time, developing those relationships as we develop our characters.
TDH: And your character has to face some big, life-defining issues. It’s quite an emotional journey.
CM: There’s a lot to get my head around! And the back story, there’s so much. I need to also work out how much is known, revealed on stage, how much only shows up through actions, who knows what. To start with, the time the characters exist in itself is a big influence. Just by going through things like the Depression, how that affected the characters. And WWII. Then layer on top of that the courtroom drama, the history of the family, the relationships between father and son, mother and son, business partners, intergenerational guilt…
TDH: Arthur Miller provides rich territory!
CM: You can picture him watching, laughing, as we try to untangle and distill what he created. But that’s also why it’s one of the best parts of the journey to the stage. This is where the imaginative work comes in, when you map out all the different alleyways that exist for this character.
You try to identify them, lay them all out, then decide which of those alleyways you are going to explore more. And it’s challenging. Every time you read the play, a new story emerges, or you see something you didn’t see before. And how many alleyways will you go down before you feel lost? It’s like a spiderweb underpinning the play.