Netflix Cursed: Could the cast survive medieval times?

Katherine Langford as Nimue Image copyright COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Sword-wielding heroes, impossibly beautiful mythical creatures, couture-inspired outfits and powerful love stories.

Whether you call it medieval or the Middle Ages, it certainly has an allure audiences can't get enough of.

From Game of Thrones to Vikings and The Witcher, there are plenty of stories inspired by the era that lasted from roughly 476 AD to 1453.

While it's great escapism watching from home, could you survive without running water, technology or even an umbrella?

As the newest TV show in the genre, Cursed, hits Netflix, we asked the cast how well they would have coped.

Image caption Showing your mystical powers was not a good move. They drowned anyone they thought was a witch

Cursed is based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler and is a different take on the legend of King Arthur.

"When you think of the Arthurian legend, you think of Arthur and Merlin and the Knights of the Roundtable but we don't really dive into the female characters," says Katherine Langford from 13 Reasons Why, who plays lead character Nimue - a young sorcerer who eventually becomes the "Lady of the Lake".

"It's great to tell her story."

As Nimue, Katherine sword fights in waist-high water while defeating several soldiers, sleeps on the floor and has a tooth pulled out.

"There were moments where it was obviously very challenging, so I'm glad it was only acting."

It wasn't easy to be a woman during that time - they took on all the household responsibilities and one in three women died during or just after giving birth.

On top of that, if they suspected you were a witch like Nimue, you would be drowned.

Image caption Nimue and Arthur, both looking remarkably fresh - in reality the smell would've been pretty bad

"I've loved these stories all my life and imagined myself in various roles," Tom Wheeler, who along with Frank Miller is an executive producer on the show, explains.

"But when we got into filming and the brutality, the mud, the bugs and the blood, I thought, 'I'm not sure I could handle this in reality'.

"I have a feeling I'd get sick and die pretty quick."

"I'd be dead," adds Frank Miller, very matter of fact.

"I mean it was a time of wild plagues and disease and they didn't have much use for people who do the kind of stuff I do."

Having said that, Frank - who's behind much-loved graphic novels including Sin City and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - says he would have turned his hand to pottery to make a living for however long he was around.

Image caption Arthur the handsome, sword-wielding hero of medieval fantasy... would his outfit actually have been that good, though?

King Arthur is the poster boy for the Middle Ages - heroic, handsome and handy with a sword.

"If I was living in that time, I think I would want to be a witch but you would stink," Devon Terrell, who's taking on the role, laughs.

As would most people, with a lack of basic sanitation and plumbing which meant human waste was often thrown out close to where you lived.

Unlike Devon, Gustav Skarsgard, who takes on the role of the famous wizard Merlin, is a bit more used to working in the mud, wet and cold.

He has played Floki in Vikings since 2013.

Image caption Gustav Skarsgard as Merlin the sorcerer, perhaps one of the most captivating characters from the legends of King Arthur

"I'm a fan of the fantasy genre," he says. "I always was as a kid, growing up with the Lord of the Rings.

"And I like a good fairy tale but I wouldn't say I was longing for a time that was much less scientific.

"I'd probably get killed for heresy or something."

Thousands of people were burned at the stake for heresy in the 11th and 12th Centuries. These were people who disagreed with how the Catholic Church was being run at the time.

"I'm not great with authority or religious oppression and that sort of stuff. So, yeah, I don't think I'd fare too well."

Probably not.

Image caption Shalom Brune-Franklin as Morgen Le-Fey lives in quite nice accommodation so she probably had a bath more regularly

You might recognise Shalom Brune-Franklin from Our Girl, but here she is playing Morgan Le-Fey, who also possesses some magical abilities - which of course has its downsides.

"The drowning," she laughs.

"And just in general your lifespan would be very short. Very, very short," she adds.

Image caption Crying but make it fashion. Daniel Sharmen plays The Weeping Monk

Daniel Sharmen plays The Weeping Monk, AKA one of the bad guys. He's hot on Nimue's trail - he wants the sword that Nimue needs to give Merlin.

While he loved working alongside his hero Peter Mullen, he couldn't do it for real.

"They didn't have dentists, that would destroy me," he says. "I would really struggle without painkillers and any kind of medical help."

A herbal infusion was the closest you'd get to an anaesthetic - or just plain old booze.

One recipe suggests water of red roses, beeswax and a little fresh butter heated up and applied to the teeth. Not quite ibuprofen is it?

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays - or listen back here.

Related Topics

More on this story