Interview: ‘Reign’s’ Will Kemp on playing Lord Darnley and the series finale


Photo Credit: Reign/The CW Image Acquired from CW TV PR

As ‘Reign’ fans get ready for the series finale, Will Kemp joins us in an exclusive interview to look back at Lord Darnley and share thoughts on what could have been.

Reign fans aren’t happy. The show they’ve followed for the last four years is coming to an end tonight. The final season has had mixed reviews, but almost everyone is together on the fact that Will Kemp has portrayed the role of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley in the best way possible.

Season 4 has explored Mary’s life in Scotland more, introducing husbands two and three. Initially a possible love match, Mary soon learned that Darnley wasn’t to be trusted. However, fans found out last week that there is a reason for Darnley’s madness.

Ahead of the series finale, Hidden Remote was fortunate enough to get an exclusive interview with Kemp about his role and what he would have liked to see if Reign Season 5 had been picked up.

More from Hidden Remote

Hidden Remote: Let’s start with a simple, non-spoilery question. What’s been your favorite part of filming Reign?

Will Kemp: I had a great time on this show, but overall getting to play such a richly historical character with such complexities was huge fun. That and strutting around in leather pants, riding a horse, and generally causing mayhem!

Hidden Remote: Did you do research into the real Lord Darnley and his connection to England and Scotland after taking the role?

Kemp: Yes. I read and carried a book by Caroline Bingham on Lord Darnley with me, so I could delve into it anytime. It was a huge help in staying ahead of the game and gave me greater knowledge of Darnley’s history and how he was perceived.

Photo Credit: Reign/The CW Image Acquired from CW TV PR

Hidden Remote: (Without giving away spoilers for the series finale) what would you have loved to have seen from Darnley’s real history play out on Reign?

Kemp: I feel lucky that we got to touch on most of it and what we didn’t we made up for with his relationship with Keira. The writers on Reign do a great job of weaving in fictional characters with historical ones. Lady Keira is a great example and was beautifully played by Sara Garcia.

Hidden Remote: Speaking of the series finale, what can you tell us about the final hour of the season without giving too much away?

Kemp: I haven’t see the final episode, but I can tell you that things “heat” up for Darnley and go out with a “bang!”

Photo Credit: Reign/The CW Image Acquired from CW TV PR

Hidden Remote: What was it like coming into a show in its fourth season? Did you connect with your costars right away and was there anyone in particular that you really hit it off with?

Kemp: It’s always a little daunting joining an existing show. It’s like jumping on a moving train. You need to keep it on track, but still bring something to the table. I felt a great opportunity with Darnley to bring new energy to an existing show. Everyone I worked with seemed to love having someone new to play with, so it was really fun right from the beginning.

My first scene was with Rachel Skarsten [Queen Elizabeth] in the English court. She was great and we got on very well, but sadly never worked together again on the show. My storyline meant I was mainly with Adelaide Kane [Queen Mary]. We formed a strong trust and we really enjoyed pushing each other to do the best work possible in every scene.

As a cast we would often all hang out outside of work—and still do given the opportunity!

Photo Credit: Reign/The CW Image Acquired from CW TV PR

Hidden Remote: We learned this week that Darnley likely has syphilis and it’s the reason for his madness. How did you react when you found out that would be your storyline?

Kemp: I was pleased that they were including this historic fact of his life. It happened very late in the season, but it was yet another gift to add to the things Darnley was already struggling with. I took a gamble that this might help explain some of his earlier, more dubious behavior too.

Scripts on Reign generally came in very late with actors often being the last to read them. This kept me on my toes, but towards the end I was desperately asking production what happens to Darnley in the last episodes so I could prepare accordingly!

Hidden Remote: You played this character with such a wide range and we’ve seen so many sides of Darnley this season. What have you enjoyed most about playing the character and diving into the many facets of his personality?

Kemp: Thank you! I’ve really enjoyed exploring this guy. The key for me was not being villainous and just always finding a strong point of view. Although his actions and methods may be questionable, he is a man of his word and has always been honest about his pride and ambition for power and desire for the Crown Matrimonial.

Photo Credit: Reign/The CW Image Acquired from CW TV PR

What was interesting was being given the opportunity to show Darnley really in love and to have his heart be broken before he then set all of this ambition in motion—aided by the poisoning thoughts of his mother.

Throw in an addiction problem, an absent father, his royal blood, and syphilis and you have a very complex character.

Hidden Remote: Where do you think Reign could have gone had it gotten a fifth season and are you disappointed that didn’t happen?

Kemp: I think we were all a little disappointed, but it has to end at some point!

Adelaide and I would have loved to have seen more of Darnley and Mary’s relationship. The political partnership, passion, and hot-headed arguing that we enjoyed playing together could have definitely been spread out over more episodes. You also have the conflict with Bothwell and then Mary’s third marriage and how Bothwell, historically, treated her very badly in the end, along with so much that happens in the other courts! The subject matter is actually kind of endless!

Photo Credit: Reign/The CW Image Acquired from CW TV PR

Related Story: 'Reign' series finale: 11 things we need to see

Hidden Remote: What’s in store for you after Reign? What can we look forward to from you in the future?

Kemp: During my hiatus on Reign and after we finished I was able to go back on the show I was on before, Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce for Bravo TV. This along with a feature film called Slumber with Maggie Q is released later this year and early next year respectively.

I’d love to thank all the Reign fans for their support, followship and feedback on Darnley. He certainly seems to have ruffled some feathers, which I love! IT’s been a great journey and I’m hugely grateful to each and everyone who has been part of it. REIGN ON!

Hidden Remote: Thank you, Will Kemp, for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview.

Reign’s series finale airs on June 16 on 9/8c on The CW.