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History Channel's KNIGHTFALL: Q&A w/ Tom Cullen, Episode Guide, Characters & Photos

Maj Canton - December 6, 2017

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History Channel premieres new drama series KNIGHTFALL on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT. This epic ten-episode season takes viewers inside the medieval politics and warfare of the Knights Templar, the most powerful, wealthy and mysterious military order of the Middle Ages who were entrusted with protecting Christianity’s most precious relics. The series begins after the fall of the city of Acre, the Templar’s last stronghold in the Holy Land, where the Holy Grail is lost. Years later, a clue emerges suggesting the whereabouts of the Grail and sends the Templars, led by the noble, courageous and headstrong Templar Knight Landry (Tom Cullen) on a life or death mission to find the lost Cup of Christ. From their battles in the Holy Land, to their clash with the King of France, to the dark events leading to the demise of the Templar Order on Friday the 13th, 1307 — a date which became synonymous with bad luck — the story of the Knights Templar has never been fully told until now. Focusing on themes such as belief, sacrifice, politics, love, power and revenge – KNIGHTFALL goes deep into the clandestine world of this legendary brotherhood of warrior monks to find out who these knights were, how they lived, and what they died believing.

 

In addition to Cullen, the series also stars Pádraic Delaney as Gawain, once the greatest swordsman of the Templar Order who was crippled at Acre, and Simon Merrells as Tancrede, a steadfast, brave, and resolute knight who venerates his Templar vows above all else. KNIGHTFALL’s cast is replete with historical figures, representing the most powerful forces in Medieval Europe. Completing the cast is: Jim Carter as Pope Boniface VIII, the Holy Leader of the Templar Knights and a stabilizing, incorruptible force within a chaotic medieval world; Olivia Ross as Queen Joan of Navarre, wife to King Philip IV of France and a powerful Queen in her own right; a devoted mother, formidable diplomat and keen strategist; Ed Stoppard as King Philip IV of France, the most powerful monarch in Europe who seeks to consolidate his power with the help of his Machiavellian right-hand man and pragmatic lawyer, William De Nogaret, played by Julian; and Sabrina Bartlett as Princess Isabella, Queen Joan and King Philip's daughter who would come to dominate the Kingdom of England as the She-Wolf of France. KNIGHTFALL also stars Bobby Schofield as Parsifal, a young peasant farmer who seeks to become a part of the Templar Order; and Sarah-Sofie Boussnina as Adelina, a Jewish refugee from the Holy Land who finds herself the victim of new persecution in Paris.



 


Q&A INTERVIEW WITH TOM CULLEN

TV Tango recently participated in a press conference call with KNIGHTFALL star Tom Cullen, who plays Landry, a noble, courageous, and headstrong Templar Knight. Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity and readability) from that call.

 


Tom Cullen as Templar Knight Landry

Question: What was your favorite thing about filming KNIGHTFALL?


Tom Cullen: This is the kind of project I’ve always dreamt of being in. I grew up next to a castle. That kind of history is really woven into the fabric of my DNA. I used to run around with my mates pretending to be knights and warriors. This job really opened up the gateway to me being a kid again and I felt like every single day I had little Tom next to me swinging a wooden sword around in Wales.


Question: Did you have to do any extra training?


Tom Cullen: In drama school in the UK we do a lot of fight training. So I’d done a lot of sword training and found that I had the propensity for killing people, ironically. The amazing Cedric Proust led the stunt team. The entire team wanted us to be at a very, very high level. I did about three months of physical training beforehand to get my body ready. We also had a two-and-half-week boot camp; we’d go horse riding and then the gym. Any extra time in the day that I had I’d fill it by going to the stables and riding some more.

Question: Did you do any other preparation [besides physical training] for the role?


Tom Cullen: I think it’s imperative that you bathe yourself in as much literature to understand the world as much as possible, so when you get on set, the world is just vibrating inside you. So I wanted to know as much about the crusades and about the politics at the time. So you need to immerse yourself in what drives these men and women to do the things that they do. History should never be taken for granted because it’s essential for us furthering ourselves as a society and culture. So, yes, I read a lot and we had a fantastic historian on set.



Tom Cullen as Templar Knight Landry

Question: You’ve been in other things [THE FIVE, DOWNTON ABBEY], so how do you choose a project and pick a role?


Tom Cullen: I genuinely love to do stuff that is different from the last thing I did. One of the reasons I became an actor is because I love to try stuff out. It’s an opportunity for me to have fun and play and experience something new.


Question: Was there anything that scared you about this role?


Tom Cullen: There’s so much that scared me about this role… the responsibility of playing the lead and the physical and emotional requirement to make the show work. If I weren’t 100% committed to the show, it wouldn’t work. And the biggest thing that was terrifying for me – I was doing something that I love. I read the script and I wanted it so badly because I thought it was so good. That really terrifies me.

Question: What do you like about the medieval time period?


Tom Cullen: I’ve always been obsessed with the medieval time period because I think it’s a time that we can look back on and learn from. We’re still feeling the repercussions of the actions and choices the people made in that period today. It’s also a period that’s grimy and dirty and dangerous. The line between life and death is so thin. If you have a lifespan of 35 years, every choice you make is loaded. And so I think the medieval period is a very high-octane world with people making life and death choices with every move.


Templar Knight Tancrede (Simon Merrells), Templar Knight Landry (Tom Cullen) and Templar Knight Gawain (Pádraic Delaney)

Question: What do the religious views of KNIGHTFALL have to say about the world today?


Tom Cullen: History is cyclical and human beings have very short memories so we tend to make the same mistakes. I think it’s really important to remind us of those mistakes. The Templars are interesting because they were formed to protect pilgrims on the road, not to fight wars. There’s a famous story of a religious enemy being captured by the Templars but given space to pray with ease because the Templars respect faith. I think the show touches on what faith is and how faith is often used for political games.


Question: Is there a theme of KNIGHTFALL that you think will resonate most with viewers?


Tom Cullen: I truly believe the show has something for everybody. Look at the show objectively from the outside; this is about guys swinging swords. But the show is so much more than that. It’s about politics, dissecting and breaking down the machinations of political interplay. And KNIGHTFALL has a fantastic central spine – a love story. It kind of grew into this thing that we had no idea what it would become. The show talks about revenge and betrayal, brotherhood, loyalty, faith, humanity, and mortality. I think it raises really big questions while being fun at the same time.


Tom Cullen as Templar Knight Landry

Question: What’s going on with the relationship between Godfrey and Landry?


Tom Cullen: Landry was an orphan and Godfrey essentially took him in and saved him from this orphanage. Godfrey becomes Landry’s surrogate father. Landry is a classic hero and hunts and searches for the truth at all costs. And there is a truth revealed about Godfrey that he didn’t know. Godfrey is pivotal in that circle of truth Landry is striving towards and it isn’t an easy journey for Landry. But it’s very satisfying for the viewers.

Question: In regards to the love story, because Landry became a Templar at a young age, do you think that’s why he was able to rebel and enter into a relationship?


Tom Cullen: We see a glimpse of Landry at 20 years old, where he’s brash and cocky and emboldened by the fact that God is on his side. But his life gets flipped upside down, then we see him 15 years later, and he’s like a caged animal, unable to fulfill what he thinks is his only purpose: to fight. He is battling with his humanity and he is secular yet his is also still mentally devout. He is the bravest warrior but he is starting to feel his own mortality. And I think that’s why he falls in love with this woman.


The Templars at the Battle of Acre

Question: How much of the series going forward are you aware of and how much influence do you have on it?


Tom Cullen: There is still a lot of the Templar history that has yet to be told. But what actually happens is that while you’re making a show it becomes this dialogue that happens between the writers, actors, directors, designers, etc. where you’re constantly kind of feeding into this pot, which is the show. And so though we have an idea of where this is going, actually the truth is that we don’t. And that’s a really exciting place to work with.

Question: Any fun behind-the-scenes stories?


Tom Cullen: Without a doubt my favorite story actually came on the first day of shooting. So our costumes were very heavy, actual chain mail, probably around 50 pounds. And we’re doing a scene where one of my co-stars, Simon Merrells, who without a doubt was the fittest, strongest, and meanest guy of all of us, has to run up a gangplank onto a boat. And there is battle and cannonballs hitting the water around him. They do a rehearsal and it’s no problem. But during the first take, someone stopped short on the gangplank and Simon tried to stop but the weight and momentum of his armor propelled him into the water. The safety crew got him up and the director is asking if he’s okay and very calm and collected he says, “It was beautiful actually. This is a swimming journey. It’s kind of peaceful.” But Simon just got up and did it again and that set really set the tone for the show.


Character Descriptions




LANDRY (Played by Tom Cullen)



Landry is the noble, courageous, and headstrong Templar Knight who serves as a driving force behind the Templar’s quest to retrieve Christianity’s most prized relic: The Holy Grail. As a boy, Landry was left on the steps of an orphanage and raised by nuns, until meeting Godfrey and running away to be his squire. Godfrey has tutored and trained him so that he has become a skilled and respected warrior monk. But Landry's faith in God and in himself has been deeply shaken by the failure of the last Crusade. After years of lamenting the loss of the Grail, Landry’s hope reignites, sparking him to guide his fellow Templars on a journey of mystery, faith, and bloodshed.




GAWAIN (Played by Pádraic Delaney)



Gawain is the greatest swordsman of the Templar Order, crippled by an injury in the Siege of Acre. No longer able to fight, he struggles to maintain his loyalty to the Templars as he comes to terms with his own physical limitations.




TANCREDE (Played by Simon Merrells)



Unlike most Templars, Tancrede was once married, but he gave up married life in order to join the Templars. As the steadfast, brave, and resolute knight who venerates his Templar vows above all else, Tancrede imagines himself as the heir apparent to Godfrey, the Master and Commander of the Paris Temple. On the quest for the most-prized relic in all of Christendom, Tancrede comes to understand his significance in recovering the Grail.




GODFREY (Played by Sam Hazeldine)



As the Master of the Templars, Godfrey is their greatest warrior, a man of immense faith and wisdom who conceals many secrets surrounding the Holy Grail. His number one priority is to protect the Grail, at all costs. Though all of the Templars respect Godfrey, Landry’s affection for him extends beyond that of master and pupil and is more akin to a father-son relationship.




PARSIFAL (Played by Bobby Schofield)



Parsifal is a young peasant farmer with a decency and honesty about him. Brash, and brave to the point of recklessness, Parsifal will always do the right thing, even in the face of great peril.




QUEEN JOAN OF NAVARRE (Played by Olivia Ross)



Queen of France, and Queen Regnant of Navarre, Joan is both King Philip’s wife and a powerful Queen in her own right. She is a devoted mother, a formidable diplomat and a keen strategist.




KING PHILIP IV OF FRANCE (Played by Ed Stoppard)



The King of France and known for his good looks (hence the nickname “The Fair”), Philip struggles both as a King and a husband. He seeks to control his family, while dealing with the politics and power moves that are an inevitable part of running his kingdom. Philip longs to be a great monarch, and to transform France into the greatest power in Europe.




PRINCESS ISABELLA (Played by Sabrina Bartlett)



Queen Joan and King Philip's daughter, Isabella is a pretty, energetic and self-aware young woman whose youth belies a capacity to go to extraordinary lengths to get what she wants.




WILLIAM DE NOGARET (Played by Julian Ovenden)



De Nogaret is the King’s pragmatic lawyer and right hand man. He is unashamedly godless, and a Machiavelli ahead of his time -- driven by a passion to destroy the power of organized religion. His mother and father burned at the stakes as heretics, and the cool and supremely calculating De Nogaret is more haunted than he might at first seem.




POPE BONIFACE VIII (Played by Jim Carter)



Boniface is a stabilizing, incorruptible force within a chaotic medieval world. The Templar Knights value him as their Holy leader, and they’re willing to execute his orders without question.




EPISODE GUIDE


If you want to know nothing about the episodes at all, skip this section. Provided by History Channel, this episode guide includes general episode descriptions and specific plot details.


Episode 101 - "You'd Know What to Do"
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT
After the battle of Acre, we join the Knights Templar in Paris where Landry, a veteran of the Holy Wars, fears that the Order has lost its way. When the blood of a brother is shed, Landry and the Templars are forced to take up their swords again.

Episode 102 - "Find Us the Grail"
Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT
Landry and Parsifal search for a killer. The unexpected arrival of Pope Boniface in Paris threatens De Nogaret's carefully laid plans.

Episode 103 - "The Black Wolf and the White Wolf"
Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT
On the Pope's orders, Landy and Tancrede travel to investigate the Holy Grail's whereabouts. Meanwhile, the plotting behind the royal wedding becomes deadly.

Episode 104 - "He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God"
Wednesday, December 27, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT
A pagan helps Landry search his past. Gawain conducts a murder investigation. Princess Isabella is betrayed.

Episode 105 - "Hard Blows Will Banish the Sin"
Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Tensions are high during Isabella's wedding preparations. Fearing an attack, King Philip asks Landry and the Knights Templar for their help in protecting the palace.

Episode 106 - "The Pilgrimage of Chaines"
Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Landry is kidnapped and tortured by a mysterious group. A Knight is expelled from the Templars. De Nogaret builds an army. Princess Isabella discovers who betrayed her.

Episode 107 - "And Certainly Not the Cripple"
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Landry and Gawain meet a mysterious woman who claims she can lead them to the Grail. Joan hears of an attack on Navarre. De Nogaret devises a way to improve his standing with King Philip.

Episode 108 - "IV"
Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
The Paris Temple of the Knights Templar is under siege. De Nogaret casts doubt in King Philip's mind. Queen Joan must decide what is best for Navarre.

Episode 109 - "Fiat!"
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Landry seeks the help of Jacques de Molay, the Temple Grand Master. Queen Joan plots her escape.

Episode 110 - "Do You See the Blue?"
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Vastly outnumbered, the Templars must fight for their lives in a battle with the Red Knights.