A Knight's Tale

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Synopsis

A young squire embarks on a quest to change his stars, win the heart of an exceedingly fair maiden, and rock his medieval world.

Directed by: Brian Helgeland
Release year: 2001
Runtime: 132 Minutes

Production Notes

“If a man believes enough, a man can do anything,” a poor thatcher tells his son. “A man can change his stars.” But in 14th century Europe, fortunes are not made—they are predestined.
For lowborn William, the son of this poor thatcher, it seems incomprehensible that he could ever realize his foolish childhood dream of knighthood. In this day and age, upward mobility is not a common concept. Fortune is not changed overnight. People die in the same station into which they are born. That is the natural order.
But one day, at a medieval jousting tournament, where knights race toward each other in tests of skill and nerve and the strains of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” sets the pace with its prophetic lyrics, “gonna be a big man some day,” fate deals the unheralded William a shot at the ring. Before long he has reinvented himself, exploding into noble superstar Ulrich von Lichtenstein of Gelderland to the sounds of thunderous hoof beats, the rising roar of the crowd and an infusion of popular music.
Newly christened Sir Ulrich is soon catapulted into the Michael Jordan of the medieval joust, the MVP of the 14th century Super Bowl, the gold medal winner at the tournament Olympics. He is a knight—if only in skill and not name—jousting in a no-holds-barred battle for pride, power and prestige. He has changed his destiny.
The timeless tale of William (Heath Ledger) and his band of medieval misfits—
including serious, soft-hearted Roland (Mark Addy), hot-headed, flame-haired Wat (Alan Tudyk) and unemployed writer Geoff Chaucer (Paul Bettany)—careening towards impossible glory, Columbia Pictures’ A Knight’s Tale is the oddball, sometimes awe-inspiring story of a rookie discovering if he is the stuff of which legends are made.
Part road trip, part romance, part exuberant action-adventure, the film is a rich, romantic, raucous ride during which a young squire embarks on a quest to change his stars, win the heart of an exceedingly fair maiden (Shannyn Sossamon) and rock his medieval world.
As modern, accessible, vibrant, funny, sexy and stylish as the sleek new age armor William dons in his climb up the ladder of riches and fame, the colorful saga A Knight’s Tale springs from the imagination of Academy Award®-winning writer-director Brian Helgeland (“L. A. Confidential,” “Payback”). The Escape Artists/Finestkind Production is produced by Tim Van Rellim (“Invisible Circus,” “K-2”) and Todd Black (“Fire In The Sky,” “Wrestling Ernest Hemingway”).
The international cast also includes Rufus Sewell, Laura Fraser, Berenice Bejo, Christopher Cazenove and James Purefoy. The creative team includes Academy Award®-nominated director of photography Richard Greatrex, BSC, Academy Award®-nominated production designer Tony Burrough and costume and armor designer Caroline Harris, all from England. Editor Kevin Stitt comes from the U.S. as does composer Carter Burwell. The international company numbered technicians, artisans and staff from England, the Czech Republic, the United States, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Hungary.
This film has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for action violence, some nudity and brief sex-related dialogue.

The Production

“The entire company was in new territory with both the magnitude and the period setting of this film,” admits producer Todd Black. But the talents of writer-director-producer Brian Helgeland, an Oscar® winner for his screenplay for “L.A. Confidential,” consistently eased the unit’s fears.
“Brian writes other worlds really well, and he stays very, very true in each scene,” explains Black. “He really researched this. Every word, every location, every character—there's a truth to all of them throughout the script. He surrounds himself with people that want truth told.
“And he does his homework,” continues Black. “He does his homework as a writer, and clearly he's done his homework as a director.”
Discussing his latest project, Helgeland explains, “We wanted to create a period piece that stayed fair to the period but felt contemporary. I wanted to make the Middle Ages feel as alive as they were to the people who inhabited them. These people weren’t living in an archaic time. They were in the present.
“For a movie to work, the audience has to be invited in. They can get pushed away if overwhelmed by period costumes, obscure speech and antique music. There must be relatable elements. Our goal was to create a seamless bridge between then and now.”
With the project in good hands, elaborate preparations got underway in the Czech Republic for the ambitious film shoot. The company was headquartered in historic, enchanting Prague, already an ancient city during the medieval times in which the film is set.
To ease the transition, Helgeland assembled his cast in Prague for the rare luxury of a month of rehearsals that became an invaluable bonding process for the ensemble. In addition to locations in the magnificent Czech countryside, a gigantic exterior set was constructed on a backlot at historic Barrandov Studios, where the company was headquartered. Covering an area larger than two American football fields, the sets included medieval London, Rouen and a jousting field, one of three seen in the film. Additionally, an enormous ice arena on a Vtalva River island in the heart of Prague was utilized for construction of a massive banquet hall, plus interior portions of the French cathedrals at Notre Dame and Rouen.
Heath Ledger, fresh from his star-making performance as Mel Gibson’s brave son in Columbia Pictures’ “The Patriot,” stars as William, a fearless, sometimes foolhardy, young man who carries upward mobility to unheard of heights.
The Australian-born star says, “What really appealed to me is not so much that William changes his stars, but what he learns in doing so. He goes for the gold, the nobility and fame, but ultimately discovers that the friends who surround and support him are the real stars in his life. The real nobility is finding your head and your heart.”
Brian Helgeland adds, “By the time William is ennobled on paper by royalty, he has already been ennobled in his heart. This is a fairy tale with a happy ending.”
Most of the writer-director’s favorite films are ensemble efforts. “In ours, William is the charismatic dreamer. Wat is the short-tempered, impulsive one always eager to fight for the group. Roland is the older brother—the backbone really in charge of things. They pick up Geoff Chaucer along the way. He’s not a dead poet, but a brilliant, if scattered, combination sports manager/press agent/ring announcer. Finally, there’s Kate, a young woman who has taken over her dead husband’s blacksmithing business. They all need each other. Each has something to gain and something to give.
“Heath Ledger’s William is the focus, of course,” Helgeland details. “His is a modern archetypal American story of a self-made person who hurdles social barriers. It’s the story of many of us. Personally, I was a fisherman who came from a long line of fishermen. Every male member of my family fished for scallops, except for one uncle who headed to Alaska in pursuit of King Crab. Hollywood was light years away, but I somehow managed to become a working screenwriter. A very long stretch. Then I was a writer who wanted to direct. Another giant step. A Knight’s Tale is a tribute to anyone who has accomplished something very far-fetched.”
The tale begins as a squire and two varlets witness their master suffer an unseemly death on the verge of winning a tournament… and filling their starving stomachs.
William impetuously decides to don the deceased knight’s armor and finish the tournament in the name of survival, not to mention wish fulfillment. Roland repeatedly reminds William that one must be of noble birth in order to compete. Otherwise, the consequences are serious and painful.
Chastised for aiming far too high, William retorts that he knows no other way, proclaiming, “I’ve waited my whole life for this moment!” And he seizes it.
In A Knight’s Tale, amid the clash of hundreds of pounds of flesh and force, the adrenaline-charged cries of spectators and the raucous sounds of classic rock, the impetuous imposter defies detection and wins the tournament. An unlikely legend is born.
“We can do this,” a pumped-up William explains. “We can be champions…I won’t spend the rest of my life as nothing.” And so, against the better judgment of his cohorts, insignificant William Thatcher is transformed into the noble Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein, of faraway Gelderland. Not by accident, his coat of arms incorporates the resilient phoenix. “Its end is its beginning,” he explains.
Thus begins their rich, rollicking deception, A Knight’s Tale. Along the way, against the magnificent pageantry of Europe, William rises to icon status as his secret society is joined by a 29 year-old, often-naked writer named Geoff Chaucer, who paves the way with silver words; and a fiercely independent young blacksmith named Kate, a wizard with metalwork.
Chaucer is certainly the most famous name among the cast of characters. Many records of his public life exist, but almost nothing is known of the man and the poet. In fact, there is one brief period in his busy life that remains completely undocumented. A Knight’s Tale conveniently transpires during that short span. Brian Helgeland was free to have fun with the man before fame claimed him.
William’s foe is a ruthlessly charismatic champion named Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell), determined to derail William’s dreams. And, of course, there is the stunning Jocelyn, a noblewoman for whom the brave knights of Europe do earnest battle. For a poor thatcher’s son, she is as impossibly unattainable as a place at the tournament.
Jocelyn is played by Shannyn Sossamon, who makes her major motion picture debut in A Knight’s Tale. In October of 1999, the 20 year-old was with a friend who was deejaying at Gwyneth and Jake Paltrow’s joint birthday party when Hollywood casting director Francine Maisler took note of her.
Maisler recalls, “Shannyn had such an arresting beauty that you simply couldn’t take your eyes off her. I’ve never had such a strong reaction to anything. I could tell that she was completely oblivious to her incredible looks. I wanted to talk to her, but I’m hesitant to approach strangers. I have too much respect for the acting craft to think that just any attractive person can do it. Also, you don’t want to get people’s hopes up.”
Maisler went through proper channels and a few days later conversed with the beautiful, dark-eyed, part-time disc jockey. She learned that Shannyn was born in Hawaii, raised in Reno, Nevada, and moved to Los Angeles to study dance, her lifetime passion. She was encouraged to discover that the young woman had some experience before the cameras, having appeared in several TV commercials.
Shortly thereafter, when Maisler became involved in Columbia Pictures’ A Knight’s Tale, she immediately envisioned Sossamon as a leading lady opposite hot new star Heath Ledger. The Hollywood unknown met and read for the casting director, who was immediately impressed.
A Knight’s Tale writer-director Brian Helgeland agreed that Shannyn was perfect for the part of the noble Jocelyn, for whom all the knights do battle on the jousting fields of Europe.
Producer Todd Black describes Columbia Pictures’ decision to cast Sossamon as,
“a very brave thing to do, going with a complete unknown for a big-budget studio film. Everyone has been knocked out by her look and her ability.”

******

While the look of the film is magnificently medieval and richly detailed in grand Hollywood style, A Knight’s Tale makes no authenticity claims. Throughout this tapestry of hard times and triumph are woven styles of music, fashion and dance that transcend any pinpointed time. Though extensive historical research was undertaken, writer-director Brian Helgeland encouraged his various department heads to follow his lead and to take liberties and flights of fancy that are sometimes six centuries wide.
A number of specialists not in evidence on most movie sets were required to realize Brian Helgeland’s concept. Among them were a lance master, armorers, horsemaster, researchers, weapons handlers, textile painters, leather workers, an army of special effects and stunt wizards, multi-lingual interpreters and exotic animal handlers.
One example of the unit’s unique needs was the numerous orders for lances to be used in the jousting scenes. The ultimate requirement, well beyond the producer’s wildest imagination, totaled well over 1,000 of the weapons.
“We had ordered eight lances for one scene in our second unit,” says Todd Black, “and we ended up going through 44 in one day!”
In addition, the Czech Republic was scoured for rare Kladruby horses, intimidatingly giant animals with lineage going back over 700 years, during which they pulled royal carriages and served as the medieval equivalent of tanks. A mini-team traveled from England whose special art is creating unusual food for films, their challenge being a splendid medieval feast. A blacksmithing advisor was retained to instruct Laura Fraser on the art of making horseshoes, though the Scottish-born actress admits, “I learned to fake it, but most of my horseshoes came out looking more like ashtrays.”
Heath Ledger captures the sentiments of his fellow cast members regarding the richness of the production by recalling, “The set was like a playground for all of us. I not only got to act with an amazing ensemble cast, but I rode horses, sang, danced, did sword fighting, comedy and stunts. An actor’s dream.”
Production designer Tony Burrough and costume designer Caroline Harris conceived a color palette that subtly becomes richer as William’s fortunes grow. Harris’s period costumes, most particularly the gowns Shannyn Sossamon wears as the noble Jocelyn, would today inspire envy on both Rodeo Drive and Melrose Avenue.
Sossamon’s elaborate costumes include an off-white bell-shaped coat cut from handmade felt and hand-embroidered with Jocelyn’s heraldry in gold thread, gold bullion and hand-painted pearls; a handcrafted period hat with a straw crown and a brim edged in gold thread; and a century-old yellow embroidered Chinese silk dress, among others. The fashions embody the hip, modern edge of this timeless tale of ambition, unbreakable drive and the invincible spirit of youth.
In developing a look for the male band of medieval misfits, “Brian and I were inspired a great deal by the look of the Rolling Stones on their 1972 tour,” explains Harris.
Burrough comments, “For a film with such a cornucopia of elements, you do endless research. You collect all the illustrations, read the dusty books and then you start dancing with them. You must make them work for the film and for the audience. There is the historical reality, then there’s the script, the director and contemporary perceptions, often all working against each other. You must blend it all together.”
Most intriguing of all the film’s aspects is the innovative incorporation of classic arena rock music, primarily from the 1980s, that intensifies the feelings of the characters and, ultimately, the film. It is music for the restless, hopeful masses, the same audience that embraces William/Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein’s rise to stardom.
The movie’s unique tone is immediately established to the sound of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” William and his sidekicks undergo intensive training for their delightful deception with the help of War’s “Low Rider.” Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care Of Business” establishes William’s emergence as a real leader and a true friend. In a novel dance scene, David Bowie’s “Golden Years” reminds the audience that first love is magical whatever the century. “Get Ready” by Rare Earth helps William dare to risk everything for the capricious Jocelyn. William and his irreverent gang make their grand entrance into London for the Superbowl of tournaments to the music of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town.”
Director Brian Helgeland says, “We aren’t trying to sell sequences with pop songs. We tried to make all the modern touches, particularly the music, very much organic to the movie.”
Noted British choreographer Stuart Hopps, who also appears briefly in the picture as the dancemaster, faced a particular challenge creating a dance that is rooted in polite 14th century steps but subtly segues to the 20th century. Composer Carter Burwell also had to solve the mathematical and musical puzzle of marrying these two sounds into once piece. Burwell ultimately solved the dilemma with the personal involvement of no less than David Bowie himself.

******

A Knight’s Tale is set in a time steeped in tradition, romance and adventure. Undoubtedly, it is easier to see a movie set in the 1300s than it was to actually exist in that period. The entire structure of European society had changed during the 12th and 13th centuries, due in great measure to the Crusades. In the 12th century, tournaments were bloody imitations of battle originated as practice grounds for warriors to improve fighting skills. They were held in Europe between the early 1100s and the late 1600s. Aside from the Greek games that gave birth to the Olympics, tournament jousting was one of the world’s first competitive sports, with accompanying activities such as sword fighting. Knights from around the “civilized” world traveled through England, Scotland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Belgium, Russia and Germany to participate.
As society changed, so did tournaments. Free-for-alls gradually lost favor and one-on-one competition was encouraged to display a knight’s skills. They slowly turned into carefully arranged jousts, held under the eyes of ladies whose favors were sought by the athletes. Chivalry flowered and dominated popular literature. Jousts came to represent the horsemanship of the fighter, and safeguards and arms of peace evolved.
By the time depicted in the new Columbia Pictures movie, great tournaments were elaborate spectacles set against a background of political and romantic intrigue where fortunes and careers were won and lost. A knight’s skills, honor and chivalry replaced savagery—though death and disability certainly still occurred—while gorgeously clad ladies cheered on the participants in shining armor. Great parades and sumptuous banquets, like the ones recreated in A Knight’s Tale, were staged. Costumes were meticulously planned. Ladies often presented a chosen knight a favor, such as a scarf, to display during the contest. Outside, minstrels made music and merchants sold their wares and dubious relics. It was great entertainment for spectators and combatants alike. The events became increasingly grander and more fabulous. They reeked of excitement.
Steeped in thrills, money, danger and spectacle, tournaments were the equivalent of our contemporary rock concerts, Superbowls, World Series, NASCAR Championships, Mardi Gras and New Year’s Eves. The tournament was a festival that no one wanted to miss.
The film’s second unit director and stunt coordinator Allan Graf teamed with Brian Helgeland to create the action thrills in A Knight’s Tale. Graf recalls, “Brian’s primary instruction was to treat the jousting as a contemporary sport. It’s not unlike football, with intense attack and impact.” Graf’s impressive resume includes a number of motion pictures with rough sports action, such as “The Replacements,” “Any Given Sunday,” “Jerry Maguire” and “The Waterboy.”
“Brian’s other goal,” Graf adds, “which was also mine, was to make each match, no matter how brief, somehow different. There are around 27 matches in the movie, and we used no fakery in providing what we hope are wild rides and adrenaline rushes. I’m really happy to report it is all real. Not one computer-generated image was used in the action scenes.”

******

“One of Brian Helgeland’s real gifts is the ability to populate make-believe worlds with flesh-and-blood characters and have you care for them,” praises producer Todd Black. “I don’t believe the word ‘dull’ is in his vocabulary. And he is able to entertain without pandering to the audience.”
“Filling the wide screen with detail and creating a world is so much fun,” Helgeland unabashedly admits. “It was so exciting going to old Czech prop rental houses. You discover dusty, ancient items you’d never see at a Hollywood or British business. Odd, strange items; you can’t possibly decipher what they actually are. And in some cases you might not even want to know.”
Aside from pure entertainment, there is a message within this Knight’s Tale. “Jocelyn says to William, ‘Be yourself. Just be who you are and I'll love you.’ And that, to me, is a great universal message,” says Black. “All of his friends give William the strength to define who he is. And that's ultimately what William does—he becomes who he really wants to become, he gains confidence, he falls in love and he enjoys his life.”
Heath Ledger sees the story as a simple yet compelling coming-of-age yarn. “It's the journey of the character, where he came from, where he aspires to go and how he gets there,” says the young actor. “He follows his heart, and I know that will touch people.”

The Players

HEATH LEDGER (William) follows his stirring role as Mel Gibson’s son in Columbia Pictures’ blockbuster “The Patriot” with a starring role in this summer’s eagerly anticipated A Knight’s Tale. He recently finished shooting “Four Feathers,” opposite Kate Hudson and Wes Bentley and directed by Shekhar Kapur.
Born and raised in Perth, Australia, at the age of 10 he enrolled in the local theatre company. At 16, he left home for the big city of Sydney to pursue a career. He was soon landing roles on such Australian television series as “Clowning Around,” “Bush Patrol,” “Corrigan,” “Ship To Shore” and “Home And Away.”
He also worked in two highly reputable Australian theatre companies, the Globe Shakespeare Company and Midnight Youth Acting Company. While gathering stage experience, he completed co-starring roles in several independent films, including “Black Rock,” “Paws” and “Two Hands,” which won “Best Film” and earned Ledger the “Best Performance by an Actor” Award at the 1999 Australian Film Institute.
In 1997, Ledger starred in Universal and Fox Television’s “Roar” opposite Keri Russell, which filmed in Queensland, Australia.
As a result of this television series, Ledger made the move to the United States and starred in the feature film “10 Things I Hate About You,” a modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s “Taming Of The Shrew.”

MARK ADDY (Roland) earned audience acclaim and critical raves for his performance as Dave in “The Full Monty.” The unexpected box office hit received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Picture and a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast.
Addy was born in the city of York, in Northern England, where he still resides. He started working at the age of 15 as a stagehand at the York Theatre Royal. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and has worked extensively with major directors in theatres throughout England, including Hull Truck Theatre Company and Royal National Theatre.
His television acting credits include a number of British series, among them “The Ritz,” “A Very Peculiar Practice,” “Between The Lines,” “Band Of Gold,” “The Heart Surgeon,” “Heart Beat,” “Peak Practice,” “Sunnyside Farm,” the BBC comedy “The Thin Blue Line” and the new sitcom “Too Much Sun.”
Addy earned international attention for his role as Dave, the ex-steelworker, in the Academy Award®-nominated “The Full Monty” in 1997. In 1998, he appeared as Mac MacArther in “Jack Frost” with Michael Keaton. He also had major roles in the independent films “The Last Yellow” and “The Announcement.”
Recently he starred as Fred Flintstone in “The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas”
and in the Weitz brothers-directed “Down to Earth,” with Chris Rock. Addy just completed filming Simon Wells’ “The Time Machine” opposite Guy Pearce. The movie, written by John Logan, is based on the classic novel by H.G. Wells about an inventor (Pearce) who builds a machine that allows him to travel 800,000 years into the future. Addy stars as the inventor’s best friend and fellow scientist.

RUFUS SEWELL (Count Adhemar), the noted British actor, marks his 16th motion picture role with A Knight’s Tale.
His cinema credits include “Carrington,” “Hamlet,” “Dark City” and “Martha Meets Frank, Daniel & Laurence,” for which he received a 1998 British Film Critics Circle nomination. His other movie work includes “Bless The Child,” “In A Savage Land,” “At Satchem Farm,” “Illuminata,” “Dangerous Beauty,” “The Woodlanders,” “Victory,” “Cold Comfort Farm,” “A Man Of No Importance,” “Dirty Weekend” and “Twenty-One.”
Highly regarded in the theatre, Sewell was voted Best Newcomer in 1993 by the London Critics Circle for his performance in “Making It Better.” In 1994, he received an Olivier Award nomination for “Arcadia” and the following year was honored in New York with the Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut in “Translations.” His other theatre credits include “Macbeth,” “Rat In The Skull,” “As You Like It,” “The Seagull,” “The Government Inspector,” “Pride And Prejudice,” “Peter And The Captain,” “The Lost Domain,” “Comedians” and “Royal Hunt Of The Sun.”
He has acted on British television in such shows as “Arabian Nights,” “Henry IV,” “Citizen Loocke,” “Dirty Something,” “Middlemarch,” “Gone To Seed” and “The Last Romantics.”
SHANNYN SOSSAMON (Jocelyn) makes her major motion picture debut in A Knight’s Tale. In October of 1999, the 20 year-old was with a friend who was deejaying at Gwyneth and Jake Paltrow’s joint birthday party when Hollywood casting director Francine Maisler took note of her.
On April 17, 2000, the entertainment trade paper Variety announced, “In a development that’s as close as it gets to Lana Turner’s discovery at a drugstore counter, Shannyn Sossamon has beaten out a slew of young stars to land the female lead role alongside Heath Ledger in the Brian Helgeland-directed medieval Columbia film, A Knight’s Tale.”
Sossamon was born in Hawaii, raised in Reno, Nevada, and moved to Los Angeles to study dance, her lifetime passion. Prior to A Knight’s Tale, she appeared in several TV commercials.
Sossamon can next be seen starring opposite Josh Hartnett in “40 Days and 40 Nights.”

PAUL BETTANY (Chaucer) made his film debut in “Bent.” Prior to A Knight’s Tale, he starred in the motion pictures “Morality Play,” opposite Willem Dafoe; Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, with Stellan Skarsgård; “Dead Babies,” with Olivia Williams; and “Gangster No. 1,” with Malcolm McDowell. He is currently filming Ron Howard’s “A Beautiful Mind,” with Russell Crowe.
His other feature film credits include “After The Rain” and “Land Girls.”
Bettany’s British television appearances include “Coming Home” with Peter O’Toole, “Killer Net” and the mini-series “Every Woman Knows A Secret.” Bettany recently played Steerforth in the TNT production of “David Copperfield” with Sally Field and Michael Richards.
Classically trained at the Drama Centre in London, he made his stage debut in the West End production of “An Inspector Calls,” followed by a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Other stage credits include “One More Wasted Year” and “Stranger’s House” in England.
His professional career was launched with his appearance on stage in the critically acclaimed “Love And Understanding” at Flatbush Theatre London, followed by a run in the play at the Longwharf Theatre in Connecticut.
Bettany was born and raised in London.

ALAN TUDYK (Wat) began work on A Knight’s Tale as “28 Days” was being released around the world. In “28 Days,” he was seen as one of Sandra Bullock’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation mates, a German cocaine addict named Gerhardt.
Tudyk recently appeared with Michael Douglas in “Wonder Boys” and with Robin Williams in “Patch Adams.” He most recently finished shooting “Hearts in Atlantis,” directed by Scott Hicks.
His most recent stage appearance was on Broadway in the Jerry Zaks play “Epic Proportions” with Kristin Chenoweth. Other stage work includes “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” “Oedipus Rex,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Bunny Bunny,” for which he received both the Clarence Derwent and Drama League awards for best New York debut of 1997.
Tudyk was born in El Paso, Texas, and raised in Dallas.

LAURA FRASER (Kate) has appeared in the feature films “Titus Andronicus,” “The Man In The Iron Mask” and “Cousin Bette.”
Her other movie credits include “Kevin & Perry,” “What Ever Happened To Harold Smith,” “The Match,” “Virtual Sexuality,” “Divorcing Jack,” “Left Luggage” and “Small Faces.”
She has been seen in a number of British television shows, including “The Investigator” and “Neverwhere.”
Fraser was born and raised in Scotland and currently resides in London.

BERENICE BEJO (Christiana) utters her first English dialogue on screen
in A Knight’s Tale as the lovely Jocelyn’s helpful lady-in-waiting and confidant.
After appearing in the French films “Les Soeurs Hamlet” and “Passionement,” she most recently starred in the extremely successful comedy “Meilleur Espoir Feminin.”
The actress, who speaks five languages, was a regular on the French TV series “1+1=6” and starred in the television movie “Histoires D’Hommes.”
Like the actress who strikes gold in “Meilleur Espoir Feminin,” Bejo has now moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career.

CHRISTOPHER CAZENOVE (James Thatcher) plays a lowly but proud thatcher, a role that allows the actor an opportunity to age many years. Trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, he has worked extensively on Britain’s renowned stages.
His motion picture credits include “The Proprietor,” “Aces III,” “Three Men And A Little Lady,” “Hold My Hand, I’m Dying,” “Souvenir,” “The Fantasist,” “Mata Hari,” “Until September,” “Heat And Dust,” “From A Far Country,” “Eye Of The Needle,” “Zulu Dawn,” “The Girl In The Blue Velvet,” “East Of Elephant Rock,” “Royal Flesh” and “There’s A Girl In My Soup.”
His varied television work in the United States and Britain includes playing Ben Carrington on the top-rated “Dynasty” series. He starred in HBO’s “Cinema Verity” and such shows as “Dead Man’s Island,” “Shades Of Love,” “Windmills Of The Gods,” “Cain And Abel” and “Lace II.”
Cazenove’s stage performances run the gamut from “Hamlet,” “Cyrano De Bergerac” and “Othello” to “Peter Pan” and “The Sound Of Music.”

The Filmmakers

A Knight’s Tale screenwriter, producer and director BRIAN HELGELAND won an Academy Award® for the “L.A. Confidential” screenplay and previously directed the Mel Gibson film “Payback.” His previous credits include the 1997 film “Conspiracy Theory,” also starring Gibson and Julia Roberts.
The filmmaker was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he often worked on fishing boats. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Producer TIM VAN RELLIM is a veteran filmmaker with vast and varied experience. A Knight’s Tale marks his third film venture in the Czech Republic.
He entered the film industry in 1963 working in the world of newsreels and TV documentaries. He studied at the film school in Lodz, Poland, on a fellowship from the Ministry of Culture. In 1968, he returned to England and joined the BBC editing dramas and documentaries.
He became associated with The Beatles’ film company, Apple Films, producing “Born To Boogie” with Ringo Starr and “Countdown” with Harry Nilsson. He also produced groundbreaking pop promos for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, T Rex and Slade. After making “The Kids Are Allright” starring The Who, he was involved in making the feature films “Catch Me A Spy” with Kirk Douglas; “Haunted;” “Les Soeurs Bronte” with Isabel Adjani; “Bad Timing” starring Theresa Russell, Art Garfunkel and Harvel Keitel; and “Eureka” with Gene Hackman, Mickey Rourke, Theresa Russell and Rutger Hauer.
Van Rellim produced “Transformation,” “Horrid Intermissions,” “Cruisin” and “A Pattern Of Roses,” giving Helena Bonham Carter her first film role. Next came “The Last Place On Earth,” the story of Scott and Amundsens’ finding of the South Pole; the cult comedy “Eat The Rich;” and “The Deceivers,” starring Pierce Brosnan. He subsequently produced “Honour Bound,” “Viking Sagas” and “K-2,” a gritty expansion of the Tony Award-winning play.
He co-produced “Snow White—A Tale Of Terror,” starring Sigourney Weaver and Sam Neill in the Czech Republic, and executive produced “Ravenous” in the Czech and Slovak republics, as well as Mexico.
Prior to A Knight’s Tale, he executive produced the Cameron Diaz-starrer “Invisible Circus.”

Producer TODD BLACK is a partner in Escape Artists Productions, one of two companies that produced A Knight’s Tale.
Black was born in Dallas and raised in Oklahoma City and Los Angeles. He attended the theatre program at the University Of Southern California and began his show business career casting such popular television shows as “Fame,” “The Fall Guy” and “CHiPs.”
While still in his early 20s, he joined veteran motion picture producer Joe Wizan in Wizan/Black Films. They produced the hit TriStar action picture “Iron Eagle” in 1986, and “Tough Guys” with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas that same year for Buena Vista/Touchstone. In 1988, they made “Iron Eagle II.”
In 1991, Black made “Fire In The Sky,” based on a true story. He produced “Wrestling Ernest Hemingway” with Robert Duvall, Richard Harris and Shirley MacLaine in 1993. In 1996, he made “Dunston Checks In,” starring Jason Alexander, Faye Dunaway and Rupert Everett. Also in 1996, he produced “A Family Thing,” starring James Earl Jones and Robert Duvall.
He was named president of motion picture production at Mandalay Entertainment, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, in 1995. During his tenure, he managed a Mandalay production slate that included such projects as “The Fan,” starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes; “Donnie Brasco,” starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp; “Seven Years In Tibet,” with Brad Pitt; “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” a No. 1 boxoffice champion; “Les Miserables,” starring Liam Neeson and Uma Thurman; and “Wild Things,” with Neve Campbell, Kevin Bacon and Matt Dillon.
In 1998, Black and Jason Blumenthal, Sr., who were associated at Mandalay, formed Black & Blu Entertainment and entered into a first-look production deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment. They are developing the remake of Columbia’s hit romantic comedy “Cactus Flower,” a psychological thriller called “Need,” and a young adult version of “The Big Chill.” They are in pre-production at 20th Century Fox on “The Antione Fischer Story,” which marks Denzel Washington’s directorial debut. Additionally, Black and his wife Ruth Graham will produce a Julia Roberts picture titled “Tracks” (aka “From Alice To Ocean”), which Graham wrote.
Black & Blu is currently merging with The Steve Tisch Company, which made such hits as “Forest Gump” and “Risky Business.” The new organization, called Escape Artists, will finance six pictures a year for the next five years, and has recently signed a five-year distribution deal with Sony Pictures.

Director of photography RICHARD GREATREX, BSC was honored with an Academy Award® nomination for his cinematography on “Shakespeare In Love,” which also brought him BAFTA, ASC, Golden Satellite and B.S.C. nominations.
He also received BAFTA nominations for the BBC films “Truth Or Dare,” “Warriors” and “The Woman In White,” for which he won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Cinematography .
He recently filmed “The Last Of The Blonde Bombshells” for HBO and BBC. Other credits include “Where The Heart Is,” “Tess of The D’Urbervilles,” “Mrs. Brown,” “True Tilda,” “Blue Juice,” “Stone Cold,” “Dalziel And Pascoe,” “Meat,” “The Plant,” “Deadly Advice” and “A Foreign Field.” His earlier work includes “Gone To The Dogs,” “Centerpoint,” “War Requiem,” “For Queen And Country” and “Brond.”

Production designer TONY BURROUGH was honored with a 1997 Academy Award® nomination for Best Art Direction for “Richard III,” a film for which he won the 1997 BAFTA for Best Production Design and the Evening Standard Award for Technical Achievement.
Since 1998, when the British designer worked on “Great Expectations,” he has helped create “Ordinary Decent Criminal,” “Arabian Nights” and “The Luzhin Defence.”
Burrough’s other movie work includes “Wide Eyed And Legless,” “Great Moments In Aviation” and “The Railway Station Man.”
In television, he earned a BAFTA nomination for “Talking Heads.” Among his many other British TV credits are “Buccaneers,” “Summer Day’s Dream,” “Genghis Cohn,” “The Hummingbird Tree,” “Sister Wife,” “Grass Arena,” “Needle,” “Seeing In The Dark,” “Once In A Lifetime,” “Words Of Love,” “Amongst Barbarians,” “Claws,” “Drums Along Balmoral Drive,” “When We Are Married,” “Season’s Greetings,” “The Browning Version,” “The Contractor,” “Devil’s Disciple” and “Titus Andronicus.”

Costume and armor designer CAROLINE HARRIS has created costumes reflective of a wide range of periods. The British designer was honored with BAFTA and Golden Satellite nominations in 2000 for her work on “An Ideal Husband.” Starring Rupert Everett, Minnie Driver and Cate Blanchett, the film was set in the year 1895. Her other recent motion picture credits include “Very Anny Mary,” starring Jonathan Pryce, and “The Body,” starring Antonio Banderas.
Among her other feature films are “Still Crazy,” which moves between 1970 and today; “The Governess,” set in 1830; the contemporary “The Croupier;” “Swept From The Sea,” which took place in 1880; “Othello,” starring Laurence Fishburne and set in 1560; “In The Bleak Mid Winter,” set in the present day; and “Before The Rain,” which won the Golden Lion and International Critics Prize at the 1994 Venice Film Festival.
Harris also designed costumes for BBC’s “Deacon Brodie,” an 18th century Scottish drama.

Prior to A Knight’s Tale, film editor KEVIN STITT and director Brian Helgeland worked together on the 1999 film “Payback.”
Stitt was also editor on “Robinson Crusoe” and co-edited “Another Stakeout,” “Drop Zone,” “Nick Of Time,” “Executive Decision,” “Breakdown,” “Conspiracy Theory,” “Lethal Weapon 4,” “Deep Blue Sea” and “X-Men.”
Based in Los Angeles, he studied filmmaking at Cal State Northridge and launched his career in 1982 as an apprentice editor on “Twilight Zone—The Movie.”

Composer CARTER BURWELL, a veteran of New York's downtown art music
scene, created music for A Knight's Tale. Following his first film score, for the 1984
feature "Blood Simple," he quickly became a significant composer on such films as "Psycho III," "Raising Arizona," "Pass The Ammo," "The Beat," "Checking Out," "Scorchers," "Miller's Crossing" and "Barton Fink.”
His credits continued in the '90s with "Doc Hollywood," "Storyville," "Waterland," "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," "This Boy's Life," "Kalifornia," "A Dangerous Woman," "Wayne's World 2," "The Hudsucker Proxy," "Airheads," "It Could Happen To You," "Bad Company," "A Goofy Movie," "Two Bits," "Rob Roy," "Fear," "Joe's Apartment," "The Chamber," "Fargo," "Picture Perfect," "Assassins," "The Locusts," "The Spanish Prisoner," "The Jackal," "Conspiracy Theory," "The Big Lebowski," "Gods And Monsters," "The Velvet Goldmine" and "The Hi-Lo Country."
In the final year of the 1900s, Burwell composed for "Mystery, Alaska," "The Corruptor," "The General's Daughter," "Being John Malkovich" and "Three Kings." He launched 2000 with scores for "What Planet Are You From?" "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2."

Cast and Crew

Cast

  • Heath Ledger
  • Mark Addy
  • Rufus Sewell
  • Paul Bettany
  • Shannyn Sossamon
  • Laura Fraser

Crew

  • Composer

    Carter Burwell

  • Director

    Brian Helgeland

  • Producer

    Tim Van Rellim

    Todd Black

  • Screenplay

    Brian Helgeland

Awards

  • MTV MOVIE AWARDS

    BEST KISS

    Nominee Heath Ledger

  • MTV MOVIE AWARDS

    BEST KISS

    Nominee Shannyn Sossamon

  • MTV MOVIE AWARDS

    BEST MUSICAL PERFORMANCE

    Nominee Heath Ledger

  • MTV MOVIE AWARDS

    BEST MUSICAL PERFORMANCE

    Nominee Shannyn Sossamon

  • MTV MOVIE AWARDS

    BREAKTHROUGH FEMALE PERFORMANCE

    Nominee Shannyn Sossamon

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