How Amazon's 'Carnival Row' Will Use Fantasy to Tackle Immigration, Other Issues

Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne debuted the first full trailer from their Amazon Prime Video fantasy series Carnival Row during the show's panel at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, though the streaming service did not immediately release the footage online.

Instead, the cast and creative team discussed creating the world of the series and how it will take on issues like immigration and tribalism through a fantasy lens.

The series centers on the elaborately named Rycroft Philostrate (Bloom) and Vignette Stonemoss (Delevingne), a human detective and a faerie who become star-crossed lovers during a clash between humans and supernatural creatures. It's set in a Victorian world populated by humans and fawns, trolls, centaurs and faeries, who are at odds after the creatures were driven from their homelands by man. The clash serves as the backdrop for the budding romance between Philostrate, who is investigating a string of murders that could disrupt the world's uneasy peace, and Stonemoss.

Stars David Gyasi and Tamzin Merchant and executive producers Travis Beacham and Marc Guggenheim were also on hand for the panel, where they raved about the realistic-feeling fantasy world they created on the show's Prague set.

"It's a kind of fantasy noir series that takes place in a neo-Victorian world and follows, among other things, a detective played by [Bloom] following a series of mysterious murders and also an immigrant from distant shores played by [Delevingne], who is a faerie," explained Beacham, who adapted the series from a feature script he wrote.

Bloom described the experience as "stepping into the wildest parts of your imagination and having it realized before your very eyes," also acknowledging his Lord of the Rings past — "I love a fantasy, as some of you may know," he joked, adding, "I really felt like I hadn't seen this world before, and I was just amazed at the detail and the richness of the characters."

His character "was a fun way for me to explore my shadow self a little bit, because he's a man of secrets."

Delevingne, meanwhile, described her character as "a fighter of love" and a "warrior," and was impressed by the set design of the world that the crew created on the Prague set. "You could walk around this whole city and pick up all the little trinkets. Everything was so realized, the prosthetics ...  it really was like being in your own fantasy world."

But, as in any relevant fiction, there are still parallels to the present-day world.

Said Guggenheim, "Part of that world is a discussion ... about racism and sexism and classism and spiritualism, and we kind of cover it all and we look at all the different ways that you can differentiate the people and creatures in society, and it makes for a very layered and complex show."

Bloom told a story about how the mayor of San Diego went to the show's Gaslamp Quarter activation, and when he realized that part of the immersive theater experience involved creatures being disparaged and mistreated (like today's immigration debate), he left.

Carnival Row premieres Friday, Aug. 30, on Amazon Prime Video.