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Dafne Keen Stars in His Dark Materials Season 2 | Interview

Big changes ahead for the Lyra character in the new HBO season.

Nov 13, 2020


The HBO limited series "His Dark Materials" based on the classic novels by Philip Pullman, is set in a multi-world reality. The story moves from one world to another. Young Lyra Belacqua lives in a world where all humans have animal companions called dæmons who carry each human’s soul. Lyra’s is an adorable pine marten named Pan. . “He’s my soul manifest as an animal. He is the more responsible one of us two” says actress Dafne Keen.

Lyra is very close to her soulmate PanLyra is very close to her soulmate PanCourtesy of HBO

Last season, based upon the first book “The Golden Compass”, Lyra is an orphan living with the scholars at Jordan College, Oxford. She discovers a dangerous secret that involves Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter. In her search for a missing friend, Lyra also uncovers a series of child kidnappings and its link to a mysterious substance called Dust, which leads her on an epic journey to other worlds.

Lyra's adorable daemon PanLyra's adorable daemon PanCourtesy of HBO

This season, representing the second book “The Subtle Knife”, Lyra, having lost her best friend Roger, will cross paths in a strange abandoned city with a boy named Will (played by Amir Wilson). Both are in a world not their own and their destinies will blend as a huge war is developing and Mrs. Coulter continues to search for Lyra.

Mrs. Coulter is still searching for LyraMrs. Coulter is still searching for LyraCourtesy of HBO

We spoke to 15-year-old Spanish/English actress Dafne Keen who plays Lyra, calling from her home in Madrid, Spain. We share a birthday (January 4th) and chatted about being complicated Capricorns. Dafne’s first notable role was as Laura in the Wolverine movie Logan (2017), Wolverine’s clone created in a lab from his DNA. She made such an impression that filmmakers asked her right away to play Lyra but a bizarre second audition a long time later, got her the part.

At a BBC premiere  for His Dark MaterialsAt a BBC premiere for His Dark MaterialsCourtesy of HBO

Check out what this bright, talented and real girl has to say about the series, how her character has changed this season, being a rebel and what tweens and teens can do to better their lives and the whole world!

Kidzworld: Tell our readers about your weird video audition for the His Dark Materials series. You were on vacation in Puerto Rico and what happened?

  • Dafne: It was a very intense audition process. After I finished Logan I get a call and there’s this incredible project and you would be the lead in it? I was like ‘Oh my God this is so cool’ so I did an audition at like age 11 or 12. Then I did not get a call back for like a year.

A younger Dafne in the movie LoganA younger Dafne in the movie Logan

Kidzworld: That’s torture!

  • Dafne: I was like ‘I did not get the part but other things are happening so it’s okay’. Then I’m in Puerto Rico on a four day holiday on this incredible island off the coast, completely isolated from the rest of civilization and I get this e-mail. We need an audition (video) by 8 P.M. UK time tonight’. I took a quick dip in the Caribbean and I’m swimming and I felt this thing (a jellyfish had stung her) on my face. I knew something bad had happened.  My face was red and swelling up. There was no boat back right away so I was either going to die or not.

Kidzworld: Wow, horrible!

  • Dafne: Everybody was putting anything they could find on my face aloe, sand. So my audition was done in a hotel room at two A.M. with one lamp and my face was deformed. But somehow I got the part. I don’t know how I did it. My instinct came out.

Dafne at an event in support of season 2 of His Dark MaterialsDafne at an event in support of the seriesCourtesy of HBO

Kidzworld: What a story! In order to survive, Lyra has to break a lot of rules. Are you, Dafne, a rebel in any way? Or has playing Lyra made you more of a risk-taker?

  • Dafne: I’m an absolute rebel! I’ve always been an extremely naughty child. It’s Capricorns! This one time, it’s one of many, I’d just watched Matilda and got excited and decided to put glue on the toilet (seat) and my mom sat on that (and got upset) and it was not a good moment for me (we laugh).

Kidzworld: I can imagine! Did you and actor Amir Wilson, who plays Will, get to meet and bond before filming started? Did you have lunches or dinner or hang out?

  • Dafne: Amir got the job and I texted him and I was like ‘Welcome to "His Dark Materials." I would love to meet you’. Then, we met and we got on really quickly and it was really cool. We had a couple of meet-ups before we got to film. Then we hung out so much after filming. It was crazy. We got on really, really quickly. I’m one hundred percent in touch with him still. We text quite a lot actually. I’m (also) still in contact with his mom. I love Magla. She’s like my favorite person.

Dafne made fast friends with actor Amir Wilson (Will)Dafne made fast friends with actor Amir Wilson (Will)Courtesy of HBO

Kidzworld: Cool! Do you feel that Lyra is more closed off this season, more wary? Was it fun playing her with a different mindset?

  • Dafne: Yes. She is one hundred percent much more wary because she has gone through extreme trauma (note: among other things, her best friend is horribly killed) and it was really interesting playing this other side of Lyra without making a different character. That was a challenge. The biggest thing about Lyra is that she is so trusting. Life can be a bit of a bad leap (especially when you are going through different worlds).

Kidzworld: Do you think there is more humor, more funny stuff in the show this new season?

  • Dafne: Oh yeah. We get to see a much more playful side of Lyra when she is with Will because Will brings out this new side of her which we haven’t seen yet, this more sweet, caring side, even a goofier side that she didn’t have last season.

Dafne as Lyra has more to smile about in season 2 of His Dark MaterialsDafne as Lyra has more to smile about this new seasonCourtesy of HBO

Kidzworld: Lyra travels through different worlds. If you could create a parallel universe, what would be the characteristics?  Obviously no Corona virus but what else would you insist be there?

  • Dafne: I would NOT want any discrimination. I would not want any sexism nor racism, homophobes, none of that thank you very much. Honestly, no stupid politicians! (We certainly agree).

Dafne Keen with Amir Wilson in a strange new worldDafne Keen with Amir Wilson in a strange new worldCourtesy of HBO

Kidzworld: Both Lyra and Will are strangers in a strange land. When you were cast in Logan and since then, have you felt that the Hollywood system; doing publicity, the “glam” awards shows etc. were a “strange land” for you? Have you learned to negotiate it? And, how do you stay grounded?

  • Dafne: When I’m not filming and I’m not at premieres and stuff, I’m not home-schooled. I’ve not changed my life at all. I go to a state (public) school right next to my flat in Madrid so I still have the same friends I’ve always had. So, I’m very lucky to keep a very normal, low-key life. I hope I’m grounded. I’m not really the one to say. You’d have to ask my parents but I think so. I hope I am. I’m not bad. I’m not an absolute diva.

Kidzworld: You come from a very creative family. Are you also a writer and would you like to direct some day?

  • Dafne: I am, at the moment, directing a short film that I’ve written so I think that answers the question. I’ve always really loved writing and directing and I really wanted to give it a try. Really hope to do more in future.

Kidzworld: Great!  What is your film about?

  • Dafne: It’s the internal journey of a lost woman.

Lyra (Dafne) still uses the Golden Compass this seasonLyra (Dafne) still uses the Golden Compass this seasonCourtesy of HBO

Kidzworld: Wow, deep! Are you intending to go to college at some point? If so, what would you study?

  • Dafne: I’m so interested in so many things. I would love to study psychology. I would love to go to film school. I would also love to study philosophy actually. We Capricorns, as you know, are indecisive. I’m decisive then I’m not. I’m basically bi-polar that way.

Kidzworld: What kinds of music are you into right now?

  • Dafne: I’ve got really weird music taste. I listen to old standards. I’m really into the whole Punk movement, basically anything. I’m a weirdo who has (certain music on my phone) then listens to something else. I’m that person.

Kidzworld: Is there a favorite fictional character that you would like to play now or in future?

  • Dafne: I love “Manon Lescaut” (a Pucinni opera about a lovely young woman, Manon, who is being taken by her brother to live in a convent when love intervenes) and I love “Romeo and Juliet” and Anne Frank.

Lyra is a stranger in a strange land this seasonLyra is a stranger in a strange land this seasonCourtesy of HBO

Kidzworld: Great choices! What do you hope kids and teens will get out of this new season of His Dark Materials?

  • Dafne: That no matter who you are, you can do something and change the world. It’s so wonderful that they have a girl and a Black boy to be the leads of the show. It’s so unique and so truthful I think. No matter who you are or where you come from, you can be a hero. That’s the message.

Kidzworld: What do you think tweens and teens can do in real life, however small, to help heal today’s messed-up world?

  • Dafne: Firstly, they should stop comparing themselves to anything they see on social media. I think it is so problematic, the whole Facetuning (for portrait and selfie editing), then (trying to) own up to it, it causes all these teens and tweens so many self-esteem problems. Firstly, get your self-esteem together. Secondly, we have a platform. We have a voice. Finally we can do something with our Instagrams and social medias that impact the world in a good way. I’d just say get out there and fight for the world you want to see tomorrow!

Watch Season 2 of His Dark Materials on HBO starting November 16thCourtesy of HBO

Watch Season 2 of "His Dark Materials" on HBO starting November 16th

Are You Familiar with His Dark Materials?

Have you read the novels? Did you see the first season or would you like to check out a cool series about a teen who is destined for greatness? Do you want to act, write or direct? Let everyone know.. Share here or on your Kidzworld profile page!

By: Lynn Barker