The Last Kingdom star Mark Rowley reveals his hopes for Finan

Image: The Last Kingdom/Netflix In the first part of our exclusive interview with The Last Kingdom’s Mark Rowley, we talked about improvising on set, cast member departures. This go round, we bring the dirt. SPOILERS for season 4 follow!The latest season of The Last Kingdom let us see Finan in a more vulnerable state, as the normally happy-go-lucky Irishman tried to console his friend Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) after the loss of Father Beocca.I loved it. I loved it because I feel as if, especially guys nowadays, we can have a laugh and carry on and make fun of each other, but when something happens, you’ve always got your buddy there, you know? So when those scenes come, I think it’s important to make sure that they land. I think a lot of guys have been there, whether or not they’ve lost someone or maybe they split with a partner or whatever. I don’t know what it’s like in Texas, but the west coast of Scotland is like, hide your feelings as guys, hide it as much as you can. On the inside though, you’re torn to bits. So it was really nice to have those moments, not only to reveal our characters, but also to reveal you know, that guys are like that.I’m from Texas, by the way, hence the reference.Personally, the scenes between Finan and Uhtred grieving over Beocca’s death were some of my favorites of the season. “You need a friend or you need a family member to help you through some traumatic events,” Rowley continued. “I think that’s why people are actually saying quite nice and complimentary things about that scene, is because they can see that, you know, they’ve been there or they have experienced it. That vulnerability of, it’s not all warrior, it’s actually these feelings deep down.”Rowley also loved the scene where Finan vouched for Uhtred with his estranged son Young Uhtred, played by Finn Elliot. “I really liked doing that scene. At the time I was thinking, ‘well what what do we have in common?’ Which is God. And then that’s why I had the idea there of using that cross to be like ‘I swear.’”Uhtred goes through so much, no one could endure that, I don’t know anyone who could endure that. My old man is really inspiring, and he can put up with a lot of shit, but I can’t. So I always admire people that can go the extra mile. It’s like the SES or your SEAL teams and stuff like that. I’ve got all these books I’ve read on them. It’s the same thing at this. Superhumans that can endure so much. Extreme humans. It’s really nice to see that in the characters.Uhtred as a member of the special forces? I can see it.I also asked which character Rowley would like to play other than his own, and he had a quick answer. “Bloodhair. He was fun. I think I would have loved to play him more like a head cartel kind of guy, kind of a ‘There’s nothing that will stop me’ feel. To see people like that, I find them so fascinating and absolutely terrifying at the same time. You don’t know whether to laugh or to be silent and if you do laugh then it may be a trap to lead into a fight. And the fact that you’re thinking all these thoughts…just shows you how much they’ve into your head.”As for who Rowley would like to share more screen time with, he told us what we’ve heard from a lot of cast members. “I’d say David [Dawson, who played King Alfred] last year. He’s very playful. Having both characters in the room would have been interesting.”Rowley has read Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories, the books on which The Last Kingdom is based. That led us to a spoiler-filled discussion about what happens to Finan next, which I won’t print here for anyone not in the know. Keeping it general, how does Rowley hope Finan’s story ultimately ends?I would be really, really happy if at the end if Finan’s character, instead of dying, just gets on a  ship and went back home or  something like that. You know, I do think his friends are his home, which is a beautiful thing. But it would just be nice to have a nice ending to a journey. Two guys who are never going to see each other again, they shared a journey. It started on a boat, it ends on a boat with one guy going away.I am one hundred percent here for that ending.But for now, Finan and Uhtred are thick as thieves, and hopefully it’ll stay that way for a while. “It’s just the idea of everyone needs someone they can trust,” Rowley said. “And Uhtred knows he can trust Finan right? And they have this shared experience. I just watched this documentary on it. There was a common thing of people who went through the worst times with each other. Like real trauma. It’s beyond this kind of brotherly kind of thing. It’s almost like they didn’t even need any words for each other. They just understand what is going on. And I think that’s very true, if we go back to the American Seal teams, that these guys have been through so much together. It’s this idea of a brotherhood. I think it’s interesting to explore that.”Looking back at season 4 in general, Rowley had high praise for the show’s depiction of of the women of medieval England. “Aethelflaed really was a warrior princess,” he said. “Maybe she didn’t get off a horse and start swinging a sword about or whatever…She was so influential, and I think you need to embrace these characters, especially females today, for inspiration, because they made England. I think a lot of people forget that. When you ask young people, ‘how was England made?’ I’m a Scot living in London and they don’t have a clue. These characters ended up doing crazy stuff to create this land that you call England.”Image: The Last Kingdom/NetflixOnto lighter subjects, Rowley discussed his reputation among the rest of the cast for having bad luck with horses:“I get the worst horses. It’s absolutely ridiculous. In season two and I had the best horse. It was the only female horse. It was amazing. It liked to eat, it was the best behaved horse. And then next season I had a stallion who wanted to run and maybe do other things, like with other horses. So it’s like, what the heck? I remember one time they were like, ‘Um Mark, Mark, if you could try to control it. Control it.’  I said, ‘look, this horse doesn’t want to be here.’ They continued, ‘If you just pull on the reins, if you just pull it back’ and finally I just said, ‘look, I’ll tell you what, why don’t you get on the horse and just control it.’ So the stunt guy got on the horse, and he couldn’t control it either, and I said ‘I told you!’ Everyone was thinking I was terrible on a horse and even the guy who owned the horse couldn’t control it.Dreymon, on the other hand, is apparently a natural with horses. “Alex is a fantastic rider.” But Rowley did have one “one amazing triumphant moment” with the four-legged beasts. “Arnas’ stunt guy had to go on his horse, go up to this wall, stand up in his horse, jump up onto the wall and climb over,” he remembered. “And any time he would jump away from the horse, the horse would get spooked, and hang a big short, which looked awful.”Naturally, it was Rowley to the rescue. “I just had some extra lessons off of Levente (Lezsák).. our main stunt coordinator. His wife had done a few lessons with me, so I felt really confident. And as soon as that happened and I knew the horse is going to get spooked, I trotted up, and when it was getting spooked I managed to grab the reins. So I went away and I was riding there with both horses. After they cut everyone was clapping and saying ‘Yes! Yes!’ I have never felt so good. Afterwards I felt like the man!”Outside of The Last Kingdom, Rowley has a miniseries called Northwater, starring Colin Farrell and TLK alum Eliza Butterworth, on the horizon. Sticking to the past, Rowley also has a role in season 2 of Starz’s The Spanish Princess, playing a “really nasty” Scottish character. And while work is on hold due to the coronavirus, Rowley is rallying his costars to help out the National Health Service in Britain. He’ll soon be hosting an acting with a bunch of other big names, including Outlander star Sam Heughan. Fans can find the full schedule here, or donate directly here, “We’ve got loads of people who want to help out.”Finally, Rowley revealed what he’s watching in quarantine. “Ozark. I love Ozark, I think it’s awesome. It’s the best ending I’ve seen in a TV show in a long, long time. And it’s the best second episode I’ve seen in TV, period. It gets you hooked and the audience on board in the second episode. I can’t believe it.”When not binging TV like the rest of us, Rowley is heavily involved as a founding member of The Actor’s Community, which along with the charity endeavors mentioned above aims to “reach young actors who want inspiration or young directors who maybe don’t have the means to go to university or whatever like that. Right now it’s perfect because I’ve got so many friends who either have been on Broadway or the West End who currently aren’t doing anything or they’re just doing voiceover stuff in the house. So, why don’t you inspire like young kids, you know?”There’s a lot of kids out there who don’t know about TV and film. Or maybe they’d like to do acting or directing. I’m dyslexic myself, but there’s so much more to life than typing stuff up. Especially on a set, very rarely do you have to put pen to paper. You’ve got a cameraman, all the grips, you got lights, sounds, you have so much out there that maybe people from different backgrounds just do not have a clue about.As we all wait for things to return back to normal, it sounds like Rowley has found a good way to pass the time, and we thank him for giving us some of it! The Last Kingdom season 4 is currently available on Netflix.To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels
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