MOONHAVEN Interview With Dominic Monaghan On His New Sci-Fi Series And MORIARTY: THE DEVIL'S GAME (Exclusive)

The Lord of the Rings star Dominic Monaghan talks to us about his new AMC+ TV series Moonhaven and Audible's newest series, Moriarty: The Devil's Game, a thrilling spin on the Sherlock Holmes mythos...

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Dominic Monaghan has made his presence felt in some of Hollywood's biggest franchises, including The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and the hit TV series Lost. Now, the actor is making his return to television for AMC+'s new sci-fi TV series, Moonhaven, and we caught up with Monaghan last week to learn more about that project. 

The show follows Earth pilot Bella Sway as she's sucked into a conspiracy to gain control of Moonhaven, a utopian colony on the Moon 100 years in the future. Stranged, she must team up with local detective, Paul (Monaghan), to stop forces that want to destroy Earth’s last hope before they are destroyed themselves.

That's not the only new project the actor is working on, though, as he's also taken on the lead role in Audible's bold new addition to the Sherlock Holmes universe, Moriarty: The Devils Game.

That dares to ask: What if Holmes’ most villainous nemesis was actually an innocent man? Featuring Monaghan in a riveting lead performance, Moriarty turns one of literature’s most famous rivalries on its head, recasting Professor James Moriarty as a desperate fugitive framed for murder - and hunted by dark forces who will stop at nothing to exploit his brilliance.

All episodes of that drama are now available, while the first two instalments of Moonhaven premiered on AMC+ on July 7. To hear from the actor on these exciting new projects, check out our exclusive interview below:

Moriarty is typically portrayed as The Joker to Sherlock Holmes’ Batman, so how much fun has it been to shake up that dynamic and put a new spin on this character in Moriarty: The Devil's Game?

You want to try and make your characters as real as possible. The thing about Moriarty in the Doyle books is that he is the master villain. Sometimes, the master villain can come across as a little one-dimensional or dastardly and we don’t want to know too much about him because we want to know about Sherlock. He ends up being someone who isn’t a real person. I want him to feel real. What does he wear to work? What’s his favourite food and mode of transport? This is a man who clearly has a brilliant mind like Holmes; he’s a brilliant mathematician and chess player, and very curious about life and very good at solving problems. He’s on the end of a couple of injustices that end up with him being incarcerated, and that might turn any man angry and bitter. Then, you have someone who is angry, bitter, and highly intelligent. He’s a fun character and someone who, in the backdrop of that Sherlock Holmes London, is charismatic. That’s an interesting thing to mine into because you have a very dynamic character who hasn’t really had anywhere near as much of a magnifying glass on him as Sherlock has.

With COVID restricting so much, were you able to record with your co-stars and, either way, how excited were you to reunite with your old The Lord of the Rings co-star Billy Boyd on a new project?

I kind of demanded that Billy be there [Laughs]. I pulled rank because while many of my scenes are with my wife, almost all of the rest are with Billy, my partner. We were able to make an offer to him to play this role which he was happy to do. It was great. Billy and I do a podcast each week called The Friendship Onion, so I was able to pitch it to him. It was great. It’s important to try and have people in the recording booth with you so that when you’re doing scenes, you’re actually doing it with someone and that helps. It was great to be back in the saddle with Billy and making a show. Fingers crossed we can continue exploring that if we do a season 2. 

I know you’ve done voice roles before, like Call of Duty: Vanguard which I thought was awesome, but what is it about this type of work in a project like The Devil’s Game that most excites you as an actor?

It’s quite old-fashioned. I did a radio play when I was 18 or 19 called ‘Stockport, So Good They Named It Twice.’ I think it was on Radio 2 or Radio 4, and that format of going into those little booths and only being able to deliver and capture your voice is something that’s fun for me. It harkens back to those old, iconic radio show we listened to as kids like Monty Python, The Goons, or War of the Worlds. Can we create drama and colour that world so that it jumps off the page? I’ve been driving around Los Angeles for the last three or four days listening to it and to hear the cobblestones of London and Big Ben chiming in that iconic English city is very charming. In a funny way, jarring when you’re driving around California. It’s all the same to me in terms of acting. I don’t make a huge distinction between doing a TV show, film, podcast, or radio play; it’s just, ‘Am I interested in this character? Can I make them real? Do I want to tell the story of this character?’ Moriarty, at the very least, is misunderstood and someone we need to take a closer look at. 

I love the mockup they’ve done of you, Phil, and Lindsay, and can’t help but think how much fun it would be to see this story continue in a TV series or film.

You’re always keen to explore those things. Any way we can get more people exposed to that world we’re creating would be fun. I think the poster looks great too, and it looks like a movie or TV show already. Maybe Audible will be under pressure to do that. I always like working in different mediums and this has been a great thing to do. Doing another season would be fantastic but, maybe at some point, one of those seasons turns into something you can actually see. That time in London is relatively expensive as you’re going back to a different period, but it’s always something you can work at. 

There is a bit of a Sherlock-sized gap in the market right now, so putting that spotlight on Moriarty could be exactly what we need right now, especially in a film. 

Yeah, I agree. 

Moonhaven is another very intriguing project, so what has it been like, after starring in something like Lost, to once again be part of a high-concept show with a mystery at its core and, based on what I’ve seen so far, a lot of twists and turns?

It’s important not to close any doors on your career and I never say that I would never do something that’s even slightly similar to something you’ve done previously. There are big high concepts in this show and I’m sure you can find mirrors to Lost in there. For me, the character I play in Moonhaven is dramatically different to Charlie. He’s idealistic, a little naive about how the world works, and you’re watching him change before your eyes by watching him be exposed to people who live on Earth as opposed to the Moon. Like with Moriarty, the way I approach it is by asking myself if I’m interested in making these people real. ‘What do they wear when they go to sleep at night? What’s their favourite lunch? How do they walk? How do they talk?’ With Paul, I thought it would be fascinating to watch a guy who has these high falutin, idealistic ideas about humanity be consistently dashed, the more he’s exposed to modern-day people exposed to Earth. 

Paul is a really interesting character trying to protect this outsider and finding himself dealing with how those in Moonhaven feel about the people back on Earth, but what about this guy did you connect with and do you already have some hopes for where you can take him should the series continue?

I like that one of the major ideas of the show, that Paul believes in, is that the future is better. It sounds a little cheesy to say that, but it is a notion. It’s like Lennon’s quote that war is over if you want it. When he extrapolated that, he said, ‘It sounds silly and like something you can dismiss out of hand, but it is as simple as saying we’re going to stop fighting each other now.’ The idea that the future is better is that this initial step down a path of positivity is the only way we’ll be able to solve the problems we’re experiencing on Earth. You can’t have a stance of giving up or negativity about things because you’ve lost already. You need to be confident in the idea of, ‘Yes, we are the animal that’s made a mess of this planet, but that also means we’re the animal that can fix it.’ It begins with a mindset. I like that and I’m keen to maintain it with Paul for a while until maybe he gets exposed to something that completely breaks his world. Then, we see someone’s major ideals about how he’s been brought up become fractured. 

Paul and Bella’s partnership is clearly going to be key here, so how did you find working with Emma McDonald, especially when she’s something of a newcomer?

Yeah, man, it’s weird. I’m 45 now and I’ve been working since I was 18, so it’s 25 years plus. You still always feel like a newcomer. At least I do as I like to approach my work that way. Everything is refreshing and there to learn on set. There’s always something you can learn as an actor through the job you do or through other actors. I’m not in a position where I feel like I’m in a teaching moment. I’m always in a learning moment. I think, as fellow English people, we probably bonded on what it means to live there and what we miss. Emma had a lot of questions about California and Los Angeles and how that city works and what it means to be involved in a successful TV show, hopefully. We chatted a lot about that. We do have this brother/sister vibe in the characters where they rub up against each other in different ways because of how they live their lives, but they’re also learning as characters a lot about themselves and each other. It was always fun.

You mentioned yours and Billy’s podcast earlier, so I wanted to finish by giving you the chance to tell our readers a little about what they can expect from that? 

It’s called The Friendship Onion and it comes out every week wherever you get your podcasts. You can watch it on YouTube, and if you subscribe to us, it’s really helpful as it allows us to make more and more shows. The crazy thing about the podcasting world is that if you’re not consistently building an audience, then sooner or later, you have to stop doing it. That’s just the business model. We like doing the show, but if it gets to a point where we plateau in terms of subscriptions, then we’ll have to stop. Then, we’ll spend the rest of our lives being moaned at by people and we’ll say, ‘Well, we warned you guys…we told you!’ We’ll see what happens with that [Laughs]. There’s no particular format at all really. Billy and I just sit around and talk nonsense. Billy’s the best person for me I can talk nonsense with and keep the conversation flowing, so on any given week, that’s what we do. Last week, we had someone come on who made Mead, an alcohol made of honey. Every so often, we talk a little bit about The Lord of the Rings, but usually, it’s how our weeks have gone, silly things that have made us laugh, and time flies when you’re having fun. 

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