Seven Kings Must Die writer on "heartbreaking" character absences
A number of fan favourites from The Last Kingdom don't appear in the sequel film.
Seven Kings Must Die is the final chapter in wildly popular historical saga The Last Kingdom, but not every character is present to witness the end of the epic story.
Viewers will discover a considerable time-jump has occurred between the end of The Last Kingdom season 5 and the start of this sequel film, with several major figures from the television series left unaccounted for.
Among those absent from Seven Kings Must Die are Lady Aelswith (Eliza Butterworth), King Edward (Timothy Innes) and Lady Aelfwynn (Phia Saban) as well as Uhtred's children Stiorra (Ruby Hartley) and Young Uhtred (Finn Elliot).
Seven Kings Must Die screenwriter Martha Hillier told RadioTimes.com that it was "completely gutting" to leave those characters behind, but necessary for the story that the team wanted to tell.
"It was heartbreaking. It was really hard because I absolutely love all of them," she began. "But we only really had a certain amount of real estate and we couldn't service all the characters."
Hillier explained: "[So] it's a much more single protagonist story... and that's quite nice, because we can properly bring it back to the final books.
"Seasons 4 and 5 are much more symphonic and you're interweaving all the characters… and Seven Kings isn't like that in the same way. It's got a domino effect, but it's not an ensemble – it's about Uhtred and Aethelstan."
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While it is mentioned in passing what some characters are up to, the fate of others has been left a total mystery, with Hillier outlining the deep thought that went into who would fit best with the story.
"Out of everyone who was alive, Stiorra is the really classic one," she continued. "There’s a simplicity to [Uhtred's] relationship with Aethelstan, and you can only tell sort of one parent-child story [because] otherwise it becomes too diluted.
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"Otherwise, he's sort of trying to service lots of different people's needs. But if I’d had more time, I would have had Cynlaef and Aelfwynn, I would have had them all in there doing bit parts, because I just thought they were all so brilliant."
Also speaking to RadioTimes.com, The Last Kingdom star Alexander Dreymon revealed that it was strange returning to the set without so many of his co-stars, but explained that he kept in touch with them during production.
"Every piece of the set, every corner, every location that we have in the forest, has so many memories attached to it. So it's almost like the ghosts of these people live on in those places," added Dreymon.
"I very often picked up the phone when I was there and just gave them a FaceTime and checked in."
While there are some notable absences in Seven Kings Must Die, the film does feature the return of Arnas Fedaravičius, Mark Rowley and Cavan Clerkin as Uhtred's allies Sihtric, Finan and Father Pyrlig, while Harry Gilby reprises the role of Aethelstan.