‘Knightfall’s Tom Cullen on the Twisty, Action-Packed Season 2 Finale
Last week’s penultimate episode of medieval action drama Knightfall saw everything going up in flames for the medieval Knights Templar.
Redeemed Landry (Tom Cullen) and his brothers from the Catholic military order were lashed to stakes atop bonfires that had just been ignited. Watching gleefully: their mad judge and executioner, King Philip IV of France (Ed Stoppard) and his court.
The Season 2 finale will have plenty of twists, including a reappearance of tough initiate master Talus (Mark Hamill). But will all our heroes survive? “Landry is a good man and he’ll do anything for his brothers and the people that he loves. He would literally die for them,” Cullen tells us.
Read on for more on the finale from Cullen, and check out our exclusive clip from the episode below:
Was it scary to shoot the scene at the stake?
Tom Cullen: The first time I stepped on to the pyre, I got pretty freaked out. We all did, because you start to imagine what they (the actual Templars) must have felt like, and it was terrifying and awful. One shot sweeps in through the flames and Landry is watching the center pyre and the two pyres in front of him burn. The heat was INSANE. I knew we only had one chance to get it, so I didn’t bail. It felt like forever – but it took maybe forty seconds. I came off the pyre and I had a burn up my neck. I was shaken up. I was never going to get hurt but it was an intense experience.
How action packed is the season-ender?
A 9.5 out of 10 action, with an 11 at the end. But what I really love about the finale is the really great scenes between characters.
Right. We see that in the exclusive clip with your character and his fellow Templar, alternating ally/enemy Gawain (Padraic Delaney), who was permanently injured saving Landry’s life in Season 1. What can you tell us about that scene?
These two men feel justified in their actions and tired of trying to hear each other. Padraic, Aaron (Helbing) the writer, and I spent a lot of time shaping and working on that scene together. It’s almost Shakespearean in the sense that there is no subtext. It’s just two guys going at it. There’s a kind of strange resolution.
Does Queen Joan (Olivia Ross), who was murdered by her husband King Philip after her affair with Landry, haunt the finale?
It haunts the season. The rage the characters feel about that indiscretion builds. It isn’t just King Philip and Landry, it’s (the king’s children) Prince Louis (Tom Forbes) and Princess Isabella (Genevieve Gaunt). It’s Gawain. It’s everybody. The amount of people affected by that mistake is unbelievable.
What role does Talus play in the finale?
He’s essential in helping (the Templars). There’s a scene in episode seven where Landry hides Sister Anne (Claire Cooper), his baby Eve (with Joan), and the wet nurse in the temple. Gawain finds them. They escape and Landry says, “If we make it out of here alive, here’s what you must do.” Anne is instrumental in finding Talus and bringing him back to “bring God’s wrath,” as Talus says, on the king.
Will King Phillip (Ed Stoppard) and Landry have it out?
Obviously Phillip has absolutely lost his marbles. He’s the most heinous man. After reading the script for episode seven, I was pretty sure that something was potentially going to go down in the finale. Ed thought he was going die and I thought I was going to die. It would be a shame if they didn’t meet!
What can you hint about the fate of Landry’s faithful friend and fellow Templar Tancrede (Simon Merrells), who is in love with Sister Anne?
The final episode is a fight for survival. It becomes very primal — the bare elements of what it means (for each man) to be human come out. For a lot of the Templars, including Landry, it’s about survival and revenge. For Tancrede it’s about being with Anne, and loving her. Tancrede is the real hero.
What’s next for the Templars?
It’s definitely the end of the order in France but it’s not the end of them. Historically the Templars weren’t dissolved in England for another eight years. There are amazing stories about them helping the King. They survived much longer in Malta; and evolved into the Knights of Malta. It would be a fun place to go next (in the show) – where history ends and mythology begins.
And what’s next for you?
I just wrapped a feature film called Castle in the Ground about the opioid crisis in America in 2011. I play a psychopathic heroin addict. I start shooting another film next month where I play another psychopath — a US policeman who is not a good man. I get to have a lot of fun, but scare a lot of people.
Knightfall, Season 2 Finale, Monday, May 13, 10/9c, History Channel