Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Can we talk about the beard… I believe it wasn’t
the most successful beard ever grown; you needed a bit of help…
A. Yes, I think it took me about three months to grow
that little scraggly one that I had, and being Celtic, it turned
out red! So I had to get it painted in every day, to get that
sort of black effect.
Q. And what’s Ray telling us about the eye-lashes?
A. [Laughs with embarrassment] I made the very foolish
error of deciding to be one of the vainest knights of them all,
and decided to curl my eye-lashes every morning, and was rather
unfortunate to be so caught out by Ray Winstone, one morning.
As you can imagine, the word got round very quickly and I actually
became Sir Lashalot!
Q. Why on earth did you want to do that?
A. [Laughs] I don’t know, I don’t know.
Q. How did you approach Lancelot, given that this was
a different version of the man?
A. The way David had written it in the script, he was
a much darker, sort of more brooding, angrier character. All he’s
known throughout his life, is this life of killing, and warring,
so it was pretty obvious, really, in the writing, how to go about
playing him. I enjoyed the fact that he’s a darker character,
and different to the traditional telling of the story of him as
this gallant knight of knights, this noble knight in shining armour.
I think he becomes a much more realistic character and a much
more human character.
Q. He’s also the conscience of Arthur?
A. Yes, yes, I’m constantly on Arthur’s back…
not literally! [laughs, again with embarrassment, as he realises
Q. I believe, also, you tried
a kilt for the role?
A. Yes, yes [still embarrassed]. Penny Rose (costume
designer) had put Hugh Dancy, who plays Galahad, in a kilt and
it worked. He looks great in a kilt. But you put me in a kilt
and I look like a drag queen. So I decided to go for the leather
trousers, the leather boots, and a leather tunic, and chain mail
on the arms, to make me look a little bit more masculine. But
then I went and spoilt it all by curling my eye-lashes!
Q. How did the physical demands of the role compare to
playing Hornblower? And can you tell us your thoughts about landing
the role of Reed Richards in Fantastic Four?
A. Well, certainly, all the guys will admit, that as
much as it was hard work every day, being on the back of a horse,
it was actually quite exhilarating, and one of the best ways to
clear the cobwebs from the night before. There’s no real
acting involved when you’re doing that; you’re in
the costumes, you’re on the back of a horse, you have Hadrian’s
Wall built there for you, so you don’t have to imagine anything;
it’s all there, presented for you. And the physical aspect
of it, for me, was much more exhilarating than hard work.
As far as getting the part of Reed Richards, I’m delighted.
I’m grateful for the fact I’m in this film [King Arthur],
and I’m sure that was a huge element of me getting that
Q. And what would you say to people who might argue that
you’re a bit too young for that character?
A. Well, there’s always make-up, isn’t there
[laughs again, as he realises the implications]
Q. Were you taught as a child that Arthur was a Welshman?
A. Yes, certainly, and I still believe to this day that
he was a Welsh-man. Yes, there is a 6th Century poet, who speaks
about this Roman commander, who was at this war, and that’s
what we’re describing in this film… this Lucius Artorius
Castus, a real person who existed, who was protecting the Britons
from the Picts, or the wolves, at Hadrian’s Wall.
Certainly a lot of the names of the knights have come from famous
Welsh fables. In fact, in one of the books, all of the knights
are named, which is almost 100 of them, so I’m very familiar
with the legend. But I think that’s the beauty of the story,
is that you can make an Excalibur, and our version of King Arthur;
it’s a story that has evolved and has been embellished over
the centuries, and that’s the beauty of it. It is a great