Katherine Langford has a funny — and painful — war story from the set of Cursed to share with 8days.sg.
Cursed, the 10-part Netflix fantasy series — an adaptation of Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler’s New York Times bestselling book — reimagines the story Nimue (Langford), better known as the Lady of the Lake, who eventually gives King Arthur (Devon Terrell) his magical sword.
Because this is the first time the Arthurian legend is told from Nimue's perspective, Langford felt that she had "more liberty in telling her story because there wasn’t anything to adhere to."
"But also at the same time there was also a lot of pressure because there hasn’t been anything about her before in the Arthurian legend," she says. "This is the first time that we are hearing this story — we all wanted to work hard and tell the story with justice.”
For Langford, the 24-year-old Australian actress who hit the Hollywood big-time in another Netflix show, the very controversial suicide-themed teen drama 13 Reasons Why, playing Nimue also allows her to get down and dirty in the action trenches.
“I’m a former athlete, so I was really excited to use my body in a role,” the former pro-swimmer tells us over Zoom from Sweden, where she’s spending lockdown with her friends.
Before the 11-month shoot started, Langford embarked on an intense four-week training regimen to learn horse-riding, sword-fighting and stunt work. “What was really eye-opening about this experience is that it made me realise how much work, time, and money is needed to tell these stories,” says Langford. “So when I got to filming the fight scenes, I was really excited to throw myself into it.”
One such physically demanding set-piece (in Episode 4’s ‘The Red Lake’) sees Nimue going full-on badass on bunch of baddies — the religious zealots called the Red Paladins — in a river.
Oh, yes, that scene.
“When we shot that scene, we had been shooting months straight and I hadn’t needed to pick up a sword once,” says Langford whose parents are doctors in the suburbs of Perth. “When we shot that scene, in the first hour I torn the ligaments in my right wrist. We shot that scene for two days and my wrist was strapped for those two days.”
On top of that, the “pond” — as executive producer Tom Wheeler called it — was filled with “literally hundreds and hundreds of bugs,” says Langford. “In between takes, we were trying not to swallow them,” she continues, with a laugh. “Hollywood looks very glamorous but it definitely is not all glamour behind the scenes.”
But all the blood, sweat and tears were worth it. “Some of those challenges are some of my favourite memories of filming,” Langford adds.
While it’s easy to liken Nimue to a superhero, Langford thinks she is more than that. She says, “When it comes to superheroes, I think we are past the point of seeing them as good or bad, black or white. For me, a superhero is someone who has handled their adversity or overcome a situation in an extraordinary way.
“That at the end of the day, for me, is what makes Nimue so special is that she is not this superhero. When we see her, she is this young woman who has been ostracised since she was five years old for having this mysterious gift. She is restless and she doesn’t fit in and no one wants to talk to her. She goes through so much adversity even before we begin this journey with Excalibur.
“Nimue has [endured] a lot of betrayals in her life and she has lost everyone who is close to her. Because she’s gone through that adversity, she is also one of this people that has incredible empathy because she doesn’t want anyone else to feel the way she has felt. So for me, that attracted me towards her in her journey.”
And speaking of superheroes, what are her memories of playing Tony Stark’s daughter Morgan in Avengers: Endgame, in a scene that, sadly, ended up on the cutting room floor?
The deleted scene — which has Tony (Robert Downey Jr) meeting a grown-up Morgan in the Soulworld after he wielded the Infinity Gauntlet — is available only on the Disney+ streaming platform
“I think it was just an incredible experience, honestly,” says Langford. “To work with [the directors] the Russo Brothers, Robert Downey Jr on the last day of being Iron Man in his last scene as Iron Man is one of the incredible moments that I have. I am such a huge fan of Marvel and I love the films that they made. It was just a tremendous honour to be asked to play [Morgan].”
If Langford's services are needed again in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will she answer the call? “If they ask, of course, I would say yes.”
Cursed is now streaming on Netflix.
Photos: TPG News/Click Photos; Netflix/Robert Viglasky