During his time living with his sister, Demelza and his brother-in-law, Ross, Drake Carne has come close to death many times. After years of struggle and strife, however, things finally seem to be looking up for the earnest blacksmith. Actor Harry Richardson sees his constantly optimistic character as most similar to a well-meaning, but utterly inept labrador puppy. He defends his quasi-canine counterpart in a new interview.
Jace Lacob I’m Jace Lacob, and you’re listening to MASTERPIECE Studio.
In his time staying with his sister Demelza, and his brother-in-law Ross Poldark, Drake Carne has faced death not once but two separate times — both on trumped up charges devised mainly to spite Ross.
Justice Trehearne The court in its mercy grants reprieve to Samuel Carne and Drake Carne.
Jace Drake got off, of course — first thanks to Morwenna, his now-wife, and later thanks to a passionate public speech from Ross — but his marriage to Morwenna remained chaste after her painful and violent previous marriage to the Reverend Ossie Whitworth.
Morwenna When we married, I thought – hoped – that I could be a proper wife to you.
Drake You are a proper wife!
Morwenna Waking, yes. Yet abed – I cannot – I cannot bring myself…
Jace But as haphazard and foolish as Drake’s kidnapping plans to secure his wife’s happiness may have been, they were successful, lending Morwenna the closure to fully embrace her marriage to her one true love.
Morwenna Today I did grieve – and let him go. Tonight my heart is sore. But it is free. To love you.
Jace Near-death experiences weren’t explicitly in the cards when actor Harry Richardson signed up for his role as Drake Carne. But he’s enjoyed the ride, and is anticipating the conclusion still to come in just a few episodes.
And this week we are joined by Poldark star Harry Richardson. Welcome.
Harry Hey man. Thanks for having me.
Jace Drake Carne is introduced to Poldark in season three. The script reads, ‘A young man, 19, boyish, handsome, bright-eyed, buoyant, walks purposefully along the clifftop path. He is heading for Nampara. Something about him reminds us of Demelza the way he looks about him appreciating the day the landscape, nature, in all its beauty, and the way he hums to himself a familiar song.’
Drake Now this Old man went out to roam. // Twee tweedle twee // This old man went out to roam // Left his wife alone at home // For a funny old women was she, was she. // A funny old women was she
Jace: What did you first make of the character of Drake Carne?
Harry I was really taken by how wide-eyed and innocent and honest and well-meaning he was, he was a very pure of heart character. That was quite a little scary to approach straight away because, you know everyone wants to play these kind of dark and twisted ones it’s hard to come in with a big open heart and open eyes. But I was excited to get to know him.
Jace Drake quickly falls in love with Geoffrey Charles’s relation Morwenna Chynoweth what does he see in Morwenna, and what possibilities does she offer him initially.
Harry Well I think it’s that inexplicable love at first sight. I think he falls head over heels I remember the first scenes being I think down on the coastline when we cross paths and and he’s just completely taken aback by her beauty and grace, and she’s from a different class. So I think it instantly poses a bit of a problem for him. But he doesn’t really see that he just knows that he’s already in love with her and has to figure that out.
Drake We’m strangers us’selves. Do ‘ee bide i’ these parts or be just passin’ through?
Geoffrey Charles She’s staying. Are you not, Morwenna?
Drake Morwenna. ‘Tis a liltin’, musical name. I’m Drake. ‘Tis a pleasure to meet ‘ee.
Morwenna And you, Sir.
Drake I ‘ope we may meet again.
Jace That sense of sort of class gulf between them, is that down to his own sort of naivete, or inability to kind of see the distinctions in their class?
Harry I think it’s pure innocence. I think the two of them were really indicative of the fact that class distinctions shouldn’t be a thing and that love overcomes all you know because in a world that was so segregated and people were in different groups and different you know areas of society. These two didn’t even see that they just knew that they wanted to be with each other.
Jace So many of your scenes on Poldark where with Ellise Chappell who plays Morwenna. What was it like working with Ellise for the past three seasons and what did she bring to your scenes together?
Harry I mean, it wouldn’t have been the same without her. I think she made the entire experience for me. She was so open and creative and just really loving and I think from the get go they both had, we both had a lot of love for the characters so all we wanted to do was do them justice and try to help each other to find this little romance for us to create. But we were constantly just kept each other laughing and and easy and comfortable. We were both a little shocked when we started because we had neither of us had done something of this size or a long-format show. And so we were both really nervous. I think we calmed each other down, I think.
Jace Drake and Morwenna have a star-crossed quality to them. They fall in love. She has to marry an abusive vicar to save his life, as one does. And then they finally get together but they can’t consummate their love. Does their love embody a sort of romance that feels doomed but actually contains a great deal of hope?
Harry Yeah. Absolutely. I don’t think I could have put that better. They are very hopeful characters and they do have a lot of problems thrown their way. I mean Drake’s always almost getting killed, and she’s getting married off to you know quite a devil-like man. And yet they stay hopeful and in love. I think they’re really indicative of how powerful love can be.
Jace One of my favorite Morwenna and Drake scenes is from season three at Trenwith, when they finally acknowledge their love for each other and kiss by the pond.
Morwenna Oh, Drake, why d’you suppose this has anything to do with the heart? That is not how the world works. But we are in the world and must keep to its rules!
Drake Must we?
Morwenna Yes! And if you don’t know that by now…
Drake I don’ know anythin’, Morwenna – except what you tell me. So look me in the eyes and tell me you don’ love me.
Jace What do you recall about filming that particular scene?
Harry I just seem to remember an argument for some reason with the director, he was running tight on time and we were really nervous and kind of everyone was trying to get it right and get it do it justice and it really added to the tension of the scene and the frisson and the energy, I think because we were all just really nervous and running around in those woods. Yeah, I remember that well.
Jace It’s interesting you use the word tension. I think so many of Drake and more when his scenes together teeter between being really caste and really sexy at the same time. There is that sort of inherent frisson. There’s that beautiful one in the dunes where Morwenna rests her head on Drake’s back as she examines his bruise. Was it difficult to capture that balance in those scenes together?
Harry I meanm it had all been written so beautifully that I think it was just a matter of like trying to do justice to what was on the page. Debbie’s an incredible writer and and a lot of it was there, we just had to get out of our own way and try to do it justice. That was definitely something that we talked a lot about, was that like push pull between feeling comfortable and having to hold back and what’s right and what’s wrong and the obstacles in the way and I think that makes for quite a sexy energy.
Jace My absolute favorite scene with you and Elise is the O.G. holy well scene, where Drake and Morwenna take Geoffrey Charles down into the cave. It is the O.G. holy well scene.
Drake ‘Tis a wishin’ well too, they say. What you do is, dip your right hand in the water, sayin’ “Father, Son an’ Holy Spirit” an’ then your wish is granted.
Morwenna That’s sacrilege.
Drake ‘Tisn’, though, beggin’ your pardon. This be a holy place as much any church.
Jace I remember Elise saying that you actually shot this in a Cornish cliff and that it was quote, ‘Magical.’ Did you feel that same sense of magic at the time when you when you shot that?
Harry Oh, 100%. I’ve never been on a location like that there was this thing. There’s this incredible split in cave in Holywell Bay that that you know the director was was teasing us being like, ‘I found the most magical place on earth to do this scene.’ And we were like, ‘Oh yeah sure sure whatever it’s going to be this little you know cave,’ and we walked in to like it, it really was just like dripping down perfectly from the roof. And like it was all glistening in this beautiful cave and the crash of waves was like muted as you walked around the corner of it. It was so beautiful and we were just in-between setups running around barefoot on the beach and then come in and do this this beautiful little love scene it was so much fun.
Jace Out of all the characters even more so than Ross, I think, Drake might be the one who has had his neck on the chopping block the most. He seems to constantly find himself under threat of execution. What is it about Drake that makes him such a target for trouble?
Harry I think just because he’s so he’s so puppy dog-like and he means best. You know that people often get trodden on with a big open heart and and it’s hard to stay open because people want to you know trample it. I suppose he’s so wide eyed that I think he just wound up in a bunch of very very dangerous situations. But I think also some of them were on him you know like he was he’s definitely defiantly chasing after love that he was meant to be denied. And so part of it’s a rebellion in him.
Jace The Carne siblings have been at the center of Poldark for the last three seasons. How would you describe Drake’s steadfast relationship with Demelza and Sam?
Harry They have a very interesting relationship because they all challenge each other. But they have a lot of love and unity. I think they’re all trying to find their own way in the world in their own ideals and they sometimes conflict with each other which is just like my family, I suppose. And you know and everybody’s siblings but but they they have like this intense connection as siblings that keeps them together. And a lot of love there.
Jace Drake jilted poor Rosina at the altar in season four breaking her heart when he learned that more when I had been widowed and he might be able to be with her. What did you make of Rosina and Drake’s doomed match. And of Drake throwing her over for Morwenna?
Harry It was very beautifully written but it was always kind of awkward and and to young people trying to trying to do trying to make sense of it and trying to push something to be when it wasn’t. Which I think is is something that happens very often. But yeah I loved that that relationship and and Drake and Rosina scenes. I thought it was really really interesting quite like both. Both quite heartbroken in the fact that it wasn’t gonna work and that was always a feeling there. So then when it did come that Morwenna was free of Ossie it was like let’s be honest about this I suppose
Jace Drake is living a sort of half life with Morwenna — they’re married but their marriage is entirely sexless. Does his love for her transcend what Drake calls carnal love, or is Drake merely willing to wait for her no matter how long it might take?
Harry I definitely believe that it transcends it. I really believed Drake scenes like on the page where he’s trying to profess his love to her and and that no matter what it looks like he just wants to be near her to experience the world. I thought it was a really really beautiful sentiment and I think the kid was like very very in love with her that even if he couldn’t touch her or kiss her he would be so happy for the rest of his life.
Jace He does try to kiss Morwenna at Trenwith, and she physically recoils from him.
Morwenna How peaceful it is…Don’t touch me.
Drake Forgive me. Forgive me. Will I light us a fire?
Jace How much does this moment hurt him?
Harry I think it hurts him a lot more that he’s hurt her. I don’t think there was an aspect of him feeling let down or something was missing I think. I don’t think you can blame him that he just tried to kiss her in a moment of adoration. But I don’t think he’s he’s left wanting or feeling like something’s broken. I think he just feels so much for her being in pain which is quite beautiful.
Jace And there’s genuine anguish in Drake’s voice as he tells Sam that the only hopes he has for a child is a fairy child.
Sam See’d Morwenna by the quay. Is there news?
Drake What manner o’ news?
Sam She looked so delicate an’ pale , I thought mebbe there was…
Sam A child comin’?
Drake Not unless it’s a fairy child!
Sam She’d keep her distance still? Drake nods. He’s on the verge of tears.
Drake She’s yet so broken. An’ may never mend.
Jace Given Drake’s roughshod childhood what does having a child of his own represent and why does its impossibility make him ache so.
Harry Yeah I suppose maybe maybe part of him. Always still imagined having a family was with more winner and was very passionate about it. But I think that those lines that she she may never mend. You know I don’t I don’t think that’s that’s woe is me for his own for his own state and his own desires. But like really depressed and distressed about the fact that she’s in so much pain I think them having a family in his mind might mean that she’s healed and that and that he can help her move on to give her what she would want if she didn’t have so much trauma.
Jace And we do we do see that. I mean they actually almost kiss on the cliff and they hold hands. She allows them to take her hand and then later she actually does take his hands in hers. And to me those are signs that there is inherent hope for the two of them that they can overcome the damage and abuse in her life that she can let go and move on.
Harry Yeah I think that’s beautifully put.
Jace Before this next question, a quick word from our sponsors…
Jace Drake has watched from afar as Morwenna has spied on and then gradually reintroduced herself to her son John Conan In this week’s episode, Drake goes so far as to kidnap John Conan from Lady Whitworth. What did Drake hope to achieve with this incredibly risky scheme?
Harry I think he thought that that was the thing that was that was missing and in his innocent way was just like well I’ll just fix it then I’ll just make sure that that she can have him around you know if she’s if she’s missing her child like simple just to go go collect him and then bring him home to Morwenna. But obviously that’s not how it would go down in reality and he’d probably lose his head for it.
Jace But it’s sort of a Labrador with a tennis ball.
Harry Exactly. Gina just wants to. He just wants to have a drama about her just wants to please.
Jace I mean it takes Demelza telling Drake that he could put himself and Morwenna in serious peril by running away with John Conan he’s tempted. However even if it means leaving his entire family behind.
Demelza Morwenna had no choice but to let him go. She has no rights to him that Lady Whitworth could not contest in court.
Drake So we’ll take him without her consent!
Demelza And live where? Not in Sawle. You’d have to leave us all behind – your forge, your home – and start anew somewhere she could never find you.
Jace What makes Drake change his mind and return the child to Lady Whitworth?
Harry The risk the risk for Morwenna, the risk that like that they’d lose the little stability that they had and be run out of town and have to go with you know not a penny or just to fend for themselves and run from the law I suppose. I think putting her at risk and also the child at risk is what makes him take it back he doesn’t mind risking his own life.
Jace And to me that’s sort of his his main focus is this sort of need to keep Morwenna safe to keep her happy to try and help her. And it makes to me in my mind anyway, Drake an even more noble character that it is always putting Morwenna’s needs before his own.
Harry Yeah, yeah, to his detriment. He’s very noble.
Jace I mean he’s had his forge burned you know eight thousand times in the run of this show. He’s almost been hanged. I mean he’s but he’s noble in the end.
Harry Hey, you can’t…you can’t bring him down.
Jace Drake stands up to Lady Whitworth not once but twice. Even at the risk of bodily harm from her awful servants.
Drake Yer Ladyship – yer Ladyship I beg ‘ee – hear me out . ‘Twas mine idea alone that John Conan should leave ‘ee – an’ when I tell’d Morwenna she was furious.. She’ve come now t’ make amends – t’ put an end once an’ f’r’all – nay, don’ disturb ‘er..
Morwenna So I come now to take my leave, but I’ll cherish forever the time we spent together – but I have go away now – and I am leaving you with the kindest, most loving grandmother – who will love you and give you the most wonderful life.
Jace What does it signify that he’s willing to go to Lady Whitworth and actually plead for Morwenna?
Harry That he’ll face anything. No no no matter what circumstance or risk score a person has to confront he will he’ll do it in the hopes that it might heal her a little or make her a little happier or help the world. I suppose that he’s living in.
Jace He does confess what he’s done and more when it says that Drake taking John Cowan was a quote monstrous thing and she can’t even bear to look at him. Why has he miscalculated so terribly, even though his intentions were so good?
Harry Because he’s a Labrador you know he’s. I think when his Labrador comes in you know covered in mud and gets it all over the couch like he didn’t mean to. I guess that’s the thing. You can have intentions that are good but if you’renot cautious then you end up in trouble and risking other things. But I don’t know I didn’t think she should have got so mad at him in that scene I felt bad for him. He was doing his best.
Jace Toward the end of the episode there’s a gorgeous scene where Drake and Morwenna get ready for bed.
Morwenna I said farewell to my son today.
Drake For good?
Morwenna Yes. I will never go back. I love him – will always love him – have tried to lock away the pain of losing him. But in doing so have locked away other love. Love for my husband. Love I would give my husband. But could not give whils t I would not grieve the loss of my child. Today I did grieve – and let him go. Tonight my heart is sore. But it is free. To love you.
Jace Have they finally moved closer to resolving the trauma in her past and being able to move forward together?
Harry Well I think that was that was totally a step from Morwenna. She took it into her own hands and I guess once she said goodbye to John Conan it healed her a little more and allowed her to open her heart to her husband. Yeah I thought it was really beautifully written.
Jace In the broadest possible strokes I mean what can you tease about what’s coming up for Drake for the rest of this final season?
Harry In the broader sense I think the two of them trying to figure out if they can make it work or create a family or what that would look like and tentatively start to explore love with each other again. I think to overcome trauma and try to figure out what the next step in their life is.
Jace This is the final season of Poldark. What will you miss most about the production and of playing Drake Carne?
Harry I mean definitely Cornwall. I’ll definitely have to go back. I loved that place I feel in love with it for sure. It plays such a big part in the show and it’s such a beautiful place to go. And the culture there is so gorgeous and the people are so lovely. Definitely that the the main cast you know either the siblings and I and Elise. And yeah I’m gonna miss it a lot. The whole crew were incredible and we had we had through line crew as well people who had been on it the whole way through. Or at least the whole way through I was on and and they were so much a part of it and everyone was living and breathing at the entire time and so passionate about it. I think it really was a big family creating this this beautiful world and I was so lucky to just get to slot in two years or three years in. You know and and come into this magical thing that that the that Eleanor and Aidan and the whole cast and crew had created for two years beforehand. It was just like getting on a dreamy ship.
Jace What was that like, I mean, coming in in season three to a show that was already established and becoming such a major part of the show? Was there a learning curve? Was it, you know, strange?
Harry I mean it felt like rain. Like cheating from a from a work perspective because I got to binge the first two seasons. You know and see all this creative world and this the way that they spoke and learn more about the the the language that was used in the you know so it was so rich that I felt that all I had to do was just rock off and experience it. Whereas if you starting a new project everyone doesn’t really know what it looks like yet and everyone’s trying to create a tone and create a world together. I think it was I felt completely spoiled to come onto something that was had been so beautifully put together and everyone was so welcoming and so so encouraging and you know really really helped out. But I was also I was also terrified. I was terrified. I was also a big fan boy. Once I got into it I was like Oh no. Now I’m like I’m like you know quizzing them all about what it was like shooting in Season one and they’re all designing shut up, Harry.
Jace Did you take anything with you from the set as a memento?
Harry Yeah yeah I took a I took the little necklace that Drake made Morwenna in his in his forge of the mother and child. I’ve got that hanging up on my mirror and I swear I have something else. Oh I made I made a bunch of things but they weren’t from the set. I made a bunch of things in in my blacksmith training that I have hanging around the house. I learned how to make some pretty weird intricate things. So I’ve got like we met all that.
Jace I mean how much how much training did you do to become a convincing blacksmith?
Harry I did I did about nine months of like ten hours a day. Just now. I. I did a view. I did a few long long days note which were really really fun and just like went wild. I tried to get I tried to get more lessons. I tried to like sneak my way into getting as many as possible. It was really fun.
Jace True or false: you almost dropped an anvil on your foot at one point during the filming of Poldark?
Harry True. For sure those things are heavy.
Jace What went through your head when they said that’s a series wrap for Harry Richardson?
Harry I mean it’s still it’s still hasn’t really sunk in that we’re not going back. I think I’m still in denial. I think it would still on so I’m like watching it now every Sunday and I’m like oh yeah I’ll be back there in a minute. I think was such a big part of my life that it’s like it’s still going to feel that way whether we’re shooting or not.
Jace Looking back at the past three seasons that you’ve played Drake is there a particular moment either on or off of the sets that you think of most fondly now.
Harry I definitely think those trips those trips to Cornwall in an in-between setups and stuff hanging around with with Tom and now and a lease and stuff especially up on those cliffs and just giggling our asses off with cups of coffee and big cold coats sitting on the top of cliffs while we’d set up for the next scene. I think those were like some of the most magical experiences I’ve had.
Jace If you had you describe the final Poldark episode in one word what would it be?
Jace You’re Australian but your Cornish accent as Drake is A plus worthy. How difficult was it to nail the accent?
Harry It was it was hard. I’d never I’d never met anyone from Cornwall when I got the audition so I was terrified to go in the first time. And also like some Cornish accents are really strong. It’s like hard to hard to get. Now I’m used to it. But it’s hard to understand at first so. But we had a beautiful accent coach at the start of season three. Majella and she was incredible. So detailed and and Tom and I had certain sentences and tricks to get us into the accent and rules to keep and we were really diligent with each other and we’d like keep each other in. We stayed in accent for for the first season quite a lot. We would like continuously to play and try to make each other laugh in it and just to get comfortable with it. But I think yeah he’d I mean he probably pulled me up on it more than I pulled him up on it. I think he was better than I was. I mean do you miss that accent now. Yeah man so much but it was also written so well. Debbie and Debbie wrote the whole thing in in like almost fluent phonetically so in the script it’s like you get the sounds and the accent style and the flow of the sentences she’s managed to capture and using punctuation and different spelling and stuff which was really handy but it’s definitely a really beautiful melodic accent to do I miss it a lot.
Jace It’s amazing to listen to but I know what you are talking about and having read the scripts it’s sometimes impossible to know what he’s actually saying. Until I watch the episode I say that’s what he say. Because it is so it is written out so implicitly or explicitly that. It only makes sense to me.
Harry You got to say it. You’ve got to say you’re going to get out.
Jace I know I have to ask you to say something and if.
Harry He can’t do that I don’t know if I can still do it. I mean I haven’t I haven’t thought about it in a while. I always found improving in it very difficult but because it was always written phonetically so for a while I haven’t done it since. Since being on set while I was weird I liked it and lost it.
Jace Harry Richardson, thank you so very much.
Harry Thank you so much for having me. What a delight.
Jace As we near the final episode of Poldark, we’re also near the finale of another MASTERPIECE series.
Spiros Let’s raise a glass.
Louisa Water, Gerry. Put that down.
Spiros To us all, and these sacred years, and the future.
Jace We’ll speak to the fictional Durrells family and series creator Simon Nye after the finale of The Durrells in Corfu next Sunday, November 3.
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