The Melbourne CBD is currently hosting a sci-fi/pop culture fan’s wildest dream right now, with the guests of this weekend’s Oz Comic-Con event settling into their hotel rooms and the city they’re calling home for the next few days. The pop culture convention, kicking off at the Royal Exhibition Building over tomorrow and Sunday, is seeing some amazing actors, voice artists, illustrators and more meet fans, take part in panels and more. Arthur Darvill is one of the highly-anticipated guests who is going to be pulling the numbers over the weekend. From recent roles in TV (Broadchurch, Doctor Who) to a hugely successful impact in theatre (Once, Doctor Faustus), Darvill has become a popular fixture on British television and abroad. I spoke with Darvill for the first time ahead of the cancelled Whoniverse convention, originally scheduled for March, where he was nothing but excited at the prospect of visiting Australia. It’s an enthusiasm that hasn’t disappeared and as we chat today, it’s evident that Melbourne has definitely made it’s mark on the Brit.
“We’ve gone up to Brunswick,” he says. “[We’ve] done some walking and shopping, it’s been nice. It’s a really nice city.”
Wanting to take some time to cruise up the coast the last time we spoke, it seems that Darvill’s Australian itinerary has had to change slightly this time around, but with good reason. Upon the culmination of his time in Melbourne, he’s back to the UK to resume filming the second season of the wildly popular crime-mystery Broadchurch. Playing the role of town Reverend/suspect ‘Paul Coates’, Darvill provided some of the best performances of the show’s cast in its debut season, which featured some standout acting from the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant and David Bradley.
“I can’t do it at all!” says Darvill of his short but sweet time in the country this time around. “I’m staying here Monday and Tuesday and then I’m back and filming on Thursday and Friday. So far, I’m really loving this city. I’m sitting here, my hotel room is quite high up, and I’m looking over it. It’s just great. I’m really enjoying it.”
“It’s [Broadchurch] going really well,” he continues. “It’s all very surprising and it’s nice to be back with everyone actually. It’s such a huge cast and it’s kind of odd because we all film our little bits and then we don’t really see each other, we’re in these little groups at the moment. It’s good, it’s really good.”
Having gone from a successful theatre run as ‘Guy’ in Once, enjoying time on both Broadway and London’s West End, Darvill returns to sink his teeth into some heavy material with Broadchurch. Demonstrating sizeable acting chops which fans will have noticed during his time as ‘Rory Williams’ in Doctor Who, the 32 year old comments on flitting between the two mediums of film and the stage and how he’s managed to keep a balance amid the crazy whirlwind that has been the last few years for him.
“It’s been good, actually.” he admits. “I think that if I didn’t do theatre, I’d go a little bit mad, so it was really good to have that. To do it for so long in New York and then to do it in London, I was itching to get back and a bit more filming, so it’s actually worked out really well.”
Fans of Darvill’s and Once as a theatre production were slightly divided over the announcement that singer and X Factor Australia judge Ronan Keating would be taking over the role he’s now been popularly associated with. Keating, who begins his run (and West End debut) with Once in November, has got some large shoes to fill in the eyes of many, but Darvill is confident he’ll do the role and production justice.
“No comment!” he laughs. “I’m sure he’ll be great, I’ve never seen him act! [Laughs] Hopefully it’ll be brilliant. Also, what a great part for him to be able to start in? I think it’s a little bit bonkers, but I’m sure he’ll be brilliant. I had a chat with him before I found out that he was taking over. I knew he wanted to. We had a chat and he was just really enthusiastic about the show and about the music in it. He just loves it, so I think he’s been wanting to do it for a while – good on him!”
While many were surprised Darvill possessed a great level of musicality when he took on the role of Guy in Once, a Dublin busker, some fans were already well-aware of his background in music. Making music with his band Edmund back in the day, even putting together an album of material that, due to the powers of the internet, has made its way into the hands of some fans around the world. Mentioning the idea of fans rocking up to Oz Comic-Con with some Edmund tracks this weekend, Darvill remains slightly bewildered about the idea this has even become a thing, but is encouraging nonetheless.
“Oh wow!” he exclaims. “How they’ve managed to get that…people turn up in the weirdest places with copies of that, which wasn’t even released properly! It was something that we made ourselves when we were like, 19. It baffles me, but I think it’s amazing when people turn up. If that happens [here] then wow! It’s managed to get this far around the world.”
If you’re an ardent Darvill fan, then it comes as no surprise to you that the lad has some badass funk and soul to him and his performance. A video from a farewell show in New York hit the internet recently, demonstrating Darvill taking Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” for a spin and since sent hearts into overdrive. As to whether Melbourne Oz Comic-Con attendees may be in for Darvill getting down with his bad self this weekend, you may have to tempt him.
“I’m going to say ‘no’,” Darvill laughs. “But let’s wait and see! You never know, I’m persuadable. The jet lag hits and I might be doing anything and I won’t know about it.”
Oz Comic-Con takes place this weekend at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building. Hit up www.ozcomiccon.com for more info!