Matthew Clairmont is an enigma — a centuries-old vampire with vast and unknowable secrets just waiting to be uncovered by witch and love interest Diana Bishop.
And this is what Matthew Goode, who portrays this other Matthew on A Discovery of Witches the new series based on Deborah Harkness’s best-selling novel of the same name, loves about him.
“I love his soul and the fact that he suffers from a condition that he has to repress massively otherwise he will spiral out of control,” Goode says of Matthew Clairmont’s inherent darkness and the “blood rage” condition that pushes the vampire to the brink. “There’s a lot of sadness in his life and yet he’s striving to save creatures, which are waning and losing their powers. I just love him.”
Goode, who infuses the vampire with a carefully calibrated blend of intensity and romanticism, says he is particularly enjoying the opportunity to unpack Matthew’s demons. Speaking before the show had been renewed for a second and third season, he expressed a desire to continue along that journey and delve further into the more violent side of Matthew in the past.
“I’ve really enjoyed how he’s very closed off at the beginning,” he says. “He hasn’t had a relationship for a long time, and he’s got such a dark past. That’s my favorite bit which we will be exploring — he used to be Elizabeth I’s torturer for God’s sake.”
Though he was uncertain about taking on a role-playing a supernatural creature, Goode has embraced the part (though he says he’s grateful for Matthew’s generally clean eating habits and lack of fangs). For him, the moments that veer closest to issues of the heart are what he responds to most. “I was very moved by [Diana and Matthew’s] relationship in the book,” he explains. “My favorite thing is the love story really. It’s going to have its ups and its down…Even though it’s a vampire thing, it’s still just a relationship between two people. So I’m having fun exploring that. Yeah, love love love love.”
There is one thing Matthew has in common with his fantastical counterpart — a love of wine. Goode co-hosts a show called simply The Wine Show alongside friend and fellow thespian Matthew Rhys. The two travel to vineyards and meet with experts to discuss wine, occasionally bringing other famous friends along for the ride.
Matthew Clairmont, in turn, adores wine and has a cellar that would the envy of any oenophile, given that he’s been alive for centuries, and therefore, able to pick up vintages along the way. “I think Matthew Clairmont knows a f–k sight more about wine than I do,” jokes Goode of the coincidental connection.
Every story Goode recounts from his time shooting is full of glee, and it seems like the entire cast and crew are having the time of their lives. Even the more difficult bits have come with plenty of laughs for Goode and his co-star Teresa Palmer, particularly a “bundling” scene book lovers will remember fondly as the first majorly intimate moment between Matthew and Diana, which draws upon a historical custom of sleeping fully clothed alongside another person as a courtship practice.
“The bundling scene was very uncomfortable. [It] was quite tricky,” Goode laughs. “It felt like it was as much choreography for the tango [we dance in another scene]. And it was just bundling! So God knows what the f–k is going to happen when we actually have sex in season two. I’m terrified.”
A Discovery of Witches begins streaming on Sundance Now and Shudder on Jan. 17.