It’s not everyday that one gets to ride on horseback through a picturesque forest all while defending the French crown…well, sort of. For Tom Burke, who stars as Athos in the BBC America series The Musketeers, it’s all just part of a regular day on the job. Based on the classic novels of Alexandre Dumas, it follows the adventures of Athos and fellow musketeers Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan as they navigate sword fights and romance in 17th century France. Here, Burke—who has appeared in The Invisible Woman and Only God Forgives—gives us the scoop on the show’s new season.
What attracted you to the premise of The Three Musketeers as a television series?
It’s all about the friendship between these characters. I was a fan of the story felt that doing it as a series was a great way to see the friendships evolve.
The Musketeers are known for their camaraderie and loyalty (“All for one and one for all!”) and that really shows through. Did that bonding happen naturally?
We film for six months out of the year so we spend a lot of time on set together. You might think we wouldn’t hang out much outside of that but we probably do at least one or two evenings a week together, dinner or seeing a film.
You spend a good deal of time on a horse in the show. How much training did you have to do?
I actually had a riding lesson this morning! I try to keep up [the training] because I realized that it’s not like riding a bike. I thought that by the end of the first season I’d reached some sort of plateau but I found I was struggling more than the year before. It’s like speaking another language, the more you can do the better.
What has been your favorite part of the filming so far?
Playing a character that is bigger than a human being. There’s a sort of feeling of destiny a bit like one of those classical roles in a play were you think this will always be bigger than I am.
What’s in store for Athos this season?
The first series set up the characters and now their stories unravel a bit more as individuals. You realize that for Athos being a musketeer is not really about doing good, for him it’s a diversion from dealing with his own demons and he’s forced to reexamine who he is. It’s very much about identity and questioning for all of the characters.