"He enjoys a good hunt," says Winton of the character, "and that's his life motivation. He's always looking for the perfect one." So he just happens to be hunting Amazons then? "Yeah," Winton admits, "that's what he's here for. He's just looking for a good fight."
He certainly gets a fight - a number of them, in fact - and Winton hasn't shied away from putting himself right in the thick of it. "I love doing the stunts," he enthuses. "There's somebody over there looking exactly like me, who can do the bits that I can't, but I want to do as much as they'll let me."
Winton had some practice in using a weapon during his five years at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney "We did a huge number of things, like stage fighting," he reveals. "But Morloch is my first swordswinging role."
It may be his first introduction to the world of Xena, but it's by no means his first acting role. Before being called up for Morloch, Winton starred as one of the three lead characters in the Australian feature film Me, Myself and I. Playing Morloch is certainly a high point for him, however. "The best thing about Xena is that it's a full reversion into childhood, and we're getting paid for it! It's great fun..." The actor pauses, looking down at his dress for the character, "...but I think I'd probably have trouble getting this costume through customs..."
The costume in question is a black leather number, not that far removed from the bondage-style outfit worn by Stephen Lovatt's Hades in Xena's fifth season. It's no wonder that the actor is enjoying himself in this role and these clothes.
Winton always wanted to be an actor, and it's from this perspective that he comments on why he thinks Xena works as well as it does. "The producers know the stories they're telling," he says simply. "Too often, people try to do all these different things at once especially if they're doing a deep and serious piece and basically try too hard. To acknowledge the genre and do it well isn't as easy as it seems. Pacific Renaissance have had a lot of practice, and they know what they're doing."
The actor knows what he's doing, too, and he's currently back to analysing the character traits that make Prince Morloch what he is. "I guess, to a certain extent, he's that cartoon-ish villain that you find in this sort of genre. But it's not just about being a murderer and being vicious and cruel; it's more about the game. It's like some men were born to be poets, some were born to be seers; Morloch is a hunter, and that's what he was born to do."
Fair enough, but being on the opposite side to the heroes does sort of make him one of the bad guys. After all, Xena can't suitably dispatch him if he isn't nasty. "I think it's more that Morloch enjoys what he does," says Winton, "rather than it coming out of an evil place."
The actor pauses, smiling. "He knows full well what's in store for him. By the end, he's evil. And then he gets what's coming to him!"
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