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Dafne Keen Reveals What She's Excited For Most In His Dark Materials Season 3 - Exclusive

Last week, His Dark Materials fans received a massive yuletide treat as HBO and BBC One officially confirmed the third and final season of the beloved fantasy series. Production of the eight-episode closer is set to begin in Cardiff, Wales, sometime early 2021. Its source material will be The Amber Spyglass — the third novel in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.

One dedicated reader of the books who is certainly delighted about the news is none other than lead star Dafne Keen, better known as Lyra Silvertongue. In fact, Keen's knowledge of the series stems back to one of Hollywood's first big-budget attempts to bring Pullman's story to life. That was with 2007's The Golden Compass — a somewhat poorly received feature film adaptation that featured the talents of Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Ian McKellan, and Eva Green to name a few. While it sported an impressive cast and displayed some dazzling special effects, it ultimately failed to impress critics, captivate audiences, or set the box office ablaze. It's no surprise that it never spawned any sequels.

While many found little to be desired in that version, Keen actually has fond memories of the film and took notice of its other redeeming qualities, as she told Looper during our exclusive interview. "I was familiar with [The Golden Compass]," she says. "Actually, a friend who is still my friend today, she used to love it. So, we watched it quite often and obviously I loved it because there's a young girl who's the lead. When you're a kid, if there's other kids in movies, you just get really excited. So, I was absolutely obsessed by that. And there were animals, and I was obsessed with animals. I think I just fell in love with the story."

Dafne Keen read the prequel novel, La Belle Sauvage, to fully understand Lyra

After landing the lead role of Lyra Silvertongue in BBC One's new take on the source material, it became Keen's mission to fully understand all of the intricate story details inside and out. And not just the primary trilogy of novels made up by Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. She even felt it was beneficial to immerse herself in Pullman's more recent universe-expanding novels that further explored Lyra's origins. 

"I find it important for me to know the background of the character," says Keen when asked about how much reading it took to fully understand Lyra's journey. "When I was filming season one, I was lucky enough to get La Belle Sauvage, which is about when Lyra is a baby. It basically tells me the backstory and there was also the entire trilogy and stuff. So, I did personally read all of the books that were out at the time. And I've read all of the books that are out now because I like to know exactly what's led the character to that specific base, because you are your circumstances. So, without knowing circumstances, I feel like I can't truly portray the character as they should be."

Next up on Keen's agenda is the filming of season 3, which will mark the end of Lyra's journey — at least for now. As for the third book itself, we asked the young actress to tease us about what story elements she's most excited to see come to life. "The third book is my personal favorite, so I'm just looking forward to the entire thing," shares Keen regarding the final season. "But I cannot wait to see [visual effects supervisor] Russell Dodgson outdo himself with all of the creatures and all of the craziness that goes on. And I'm very excited to see Lyra and Will again, and the whole dynamic and how they're growing up. I can't really say that much without giving spoilers, but there's so much cool stuff that goes on in third book."

The first two seasons of His Dark Materials are now streaming on HBO Max. The third and final season enters production in 2021.