His life lasted only 19 years but Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun lived one fuller than men who lived four times as long.
Spike TV’s three-night, six-hour miniseries “Tut” gives epic treatment to the life of the boy king who lived 3,300 years ago. Premiering Sunday, July 19, it tells the story of the slight, sickly boy who became ruler at age 9 following the murder of his father, was forced to marry his sister to maintain the bloodline and dynasty, fell for a commoner in a romance he tried to conceal from the jealous queen, determined who within his regime were his allies and who weren’t, and led his countrymen to victory over invading Mitanni forces.
Avan Jogia (“Victorious,” “Twisted”) stars as Tut, with Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”) as his manipulative close adviser Vizier Ay, Nonso Anozie (“The Grey”) as the formidable and duplicitous Gen. Horemheb, Sibylla Deen (“Tyrant”) as Queen Ankhe and Kylie Bunbury as Tut’s lover, Suhad.
The production paints a picture of someone who was far wiser than his limited years, and Jogia says for him that started with Tut’s extraordinary will.
“His will to not be forgotten by time, his will to conquer enemies outside of his borders and to solidify his throne by conquering his enemies within …,” the 23-year-old Canadian actor tells Zap2it. “He was not born into a world that I was born into, of two loving parents and all these opportunities and all this choice to do what I wanted to. He was born to responsibility and blood. He grew up in a very violent era … and a lot of responsibilities have been thrust upon him. And so yeah, by 19 years old he’s lived a larger life.”
“And [he was] more ruthless than most,” he continues, “and I think that kind of ruthlessness germinates slowly and he starts to slowly kind of build into the kind of leader that he ends up being at the end of it, which is cold, calculating, ruthless but still all of it out of this kind of need to free his people from subjugation from this kind of like polytheistic priesthood. It’s the story of this boy becoming a man but also the story of someone’s resounding will moving forward.”
The story was filmed in Morocco between August and December of last year, and Kingsley credits the African nation’s stark desert landscape with helping everyone get into their characters.
“There is you and the sky in the desert,” he says, “so it’s quite good not to go back to city clutter and distractions of city life, wherever the studio might be.
“But to drive through a landscape that probably hasn’t changed much in 2,000 years and be with the kinds of people over whom the pharaohs ruled, who haven’t changed a lot in many years, it’s a wonderful, intact and proud culture and I like being with those people. You feel secure amongst people who are proud and dignified and strong. It’s a lovely feeling, a great place to film, certainly.”