Dafne Keen interview: The 'His Dark Materials' star on the challenges ahead in season two of the fantasy

Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials
Dafne Keen as Lyra in "His Dark Materials" on HBO. (Image credit: BBC/Bad Wolf/HBO)

BBC1 and HBO’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy captivated viewers when it aired last year. Now, a second run of the fantasy sees more magic and adventure as intrepid teenager Lyra, played by Dafne Keen, finds herself in the strange city of Cittàgazze after passing through a portal created by her father Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) when he shockingly killed her best friend Roger. But when Lyra meets fellow troubled youngster Will (Amir Wilson), danger beckons.

Here, Dafne Keen reveals all about the return of His Dark Materials.

His Dark Materials 2 on HBO and BBC1: Dafne Keen on the changes in Lyra

“I was excited to explore Lyra’s vulnerable side, because in series one, she never shows it, she hides her pain. But in series two, we see this more quiet, introverted Lyra,” says Keen, who also starred alongside Hugh Jackman in 2017's Logan. “She is in this dark place where she's going ‘My father has betrayed me and I'm completely alone.’ But Lyra is an inspiration. She’s magnetic. I hope some of her has rubbed off on me!”

His Dark Materials 2 on HBO and BBC1: Dafne Keen on Lyra’s relationship with Will

Amir Wilson and Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials

Amir Wilson and Dafne Keen as Will and Lyra in "His Dark Materials." (Image credit: BBC/Bad Wolf/HBO)

“I love how Lyra is in this really horrible place but you see Will is also in a horrible place and it's about how they’re both like a puzzle, they complete each other,” says Keen. “It’s moving to see how another person can save you from horror. That was really amazing to play that with Amir.” 

His Dark Materials 2 on HBO and BBC1: Dafne Keen on the stunning Cittàgazze set

“When we finished series one, I was told that Cittàgazze was going to be where we kept the trailers [on the set in Cardiff, Wales] and then I came back for series two and there was this entire town built in a parking lot!,” says Keen. “It was so big, I got lost a few times, it was incredible. There was even a bread shop with real bread. It was so realistic. And it was somehow sunny there, which was very surprising!”

His Dark Materials 2 on HBO and BBC1: Dafne Keen on being recognised

“Because I live in Spain, people don't expect me to be there, so I don't have people recognising me! But I get lots of people saying, ‘You look exactly like the His Dark Materials girl.’ And I'm like, ‘I know, right?!’” laughs Keen. “But I was given a His Dark Materials coat and now it's cold in Spain so I wore it the other day and they said, ‘You lied to us!’”

When and where can you watch His Dark Materials 2?

The seven-part series begins in Britain on Sunday, Nov. 8 on BBC1, and in the U.S. from Monday, Nov. 16 on HBO.

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.