On the surface, Carnival Row looks like a fantastical tale of fairies and brutal murders set against a detailed Victorian-esque backdrop.
But the stars of the new Amazon series have told Sky News its themes reflect today’s migrant crisis and surrounding issues.
Cara Delevingne plays a fairy, one of the so-called Fae folk who are seeking refuge in the human world, while Orlando Bloom stars as a detective considered unusual for his empathy with the migrants.
Bloom says he hopes the show promotes debate.
“When you look through the lens of fantasy you can unpack some of these really big issues,” he said.
“We’re talking about fear really aren’t we, because it’s fear of the other, it’s fear of life with the other and what does that mean.
“And actually that’s a wonderful thing when life mirrors art a bit and you can unpack things and have that kind of dialogue and hopefully people will watch this show and have dinner and talk about it afterwards.”
Delevingne says it was interesting for her to explore a subject she’s not necessarily able to relate to.
“For me as a kid when there was any hatred towards anyone it made no sense,” she explained.
“And especially growing up as someone who is queer in some way, always feeling like why would anyone judge anyone for not understanding or not really knowing them – it never made sense.”
Both actors have worked with Unicef and say this has given them a better understanding of the migrant crisis.
“It’s crazy because you’re going to a place like Uganda which is one of the less [well] off countries in the world yet they opened their arms completely to South Sudan during the civil war and let every single person they possibly could not only survive and help them, but thrive as well,” Delevingne said.
“And then you look at some of the richest countries in the world who literally are trying to shut out people who, by the way, most of those countries’ immigrants are people who are the most successful and are making those countries.
“I don’t understand… it makes no sense.”
Bloom said the subject matter elevates the show and makes it about more than the strange creatures which appear in it.
“I don’t even see this as a fantasy. Is that crazy?” the Lord of the Rings actor said.
“I think it’s grounded so much in reality. When I read it I was like, ‘Okay, this is a crazy world’, but when I talked about it, it was reality.”
Any show with fantasy elements, violence and some X-rated scenes is bound to draw comparisons to Game of Thrones, but Bloom isn’t convinced.
“We’re Carnival Row, we’re not Game of Thrones,” he said.
“So there’s this lazy comparison, but if you actually spend the time and look at our show it’s not trying to be that, and the fantasy aspect of the show I think leads to great entertainment.”
Delevingne agreed: “I mean it’s controversial, and that’s what the world is.”
- Carnival Row starts on Amazon Prime on 30 August.