KING ARTHUR - Q&A with Jerry Bruckheimer, Antoine Fuqua, David Franzoni, John Matthews, Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd and Ray Winstone
Movie Interview by Neils Hesse
Q&A with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Antoine Fuqua, writer David Franzoni, historian John Matthews and actors Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd and Ray Winstone at the London press conference
Jerry starting with you, how was the whole movie pitched to you?
DAVID FRANZONI: I went to Jerry and said why don't we do King Arthur and his Knights as a "wild bunch" for the dark ages?
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: He had it all worked out and in many ways it seemed similar to the fall of Saigon, and I found that very intriguing.
David was this an opportunity to bring together your Celtic and Latin roots?
DAVID FRANZONI: Yes it has always been a dream of mine to combine the two. No. No, this was all for historic accuracy, nothing personal.
Antoine you have always been interested in the legend of King Arthur but did you know about Sarmania?
ANTOINE FUQUA: No I didn't but the whole idea appealed to me to do it from this new angle, all those different names meant I had to do some research myself to understand the history of Sarmania.
John how did you feel about Hollywood wanting to get it right for a change?
JOHN MATTHEWS: I was very happy, yes
Clive apparently the horse riding didn't appeal to you?
CLICE OWEN: [Broad grin] I haven't done much riding, I spent 2 months learning to do it properly so ultimately the work was put in. Obviously I wanted to do what Antoine wanted to have done so I had to do it right.
Ray what was the knight boot camp like?
RAY WINSTONE: I didn't really feel the need to go and besides I was working on something else, making a living.
You didn't want to go to boot camp?
RAY WINSTONE: I was working! [Everybody laughs]
Ioan we hear that there is something very interesting about your beard in the film?
IOAN GRUFFUDD: [Smiling] I took quite a long time to grow it and then it turned out to be reddish, so it had to be painted everyday. [Everybody laughs]
Ioan in the film you seem to have quite long eyelashes, why so?
IOAN GRUFFUDD: [Everybody laughs and he smiles] I decided to curl my eyelashes every morning and Ray caught me out, the word got round and I soon became "Sir Lancelot".
Ioan why did you curl your eyelashes?
IOAN GRUFFUDD: I honestly do not really know.
Ioan this was a very different version of Arthur and his knights, how did you approach it?
IOAN GRUFFUDD: Well it was quite obvious as the character was very well written and I particularly liked the fact that my Lancelot was darker and broodier as this was much more human. My character is also constantly on Arthur's back. [Everybody laughs] No Not literally. [Smiling].
CLIVE OWEN: That is all subtext [smiling].
Well obviously you all got on, what was the nightlife like at location?
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: They all stayed indoors in their beds.
Were they hard to control?
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: No they all behaved like gentlemen.
We heard that your costumes were supposed to make you look like 5th century rock stars. Did you feel like rock stars in them?
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: In one word "No". [Everybody laughs]
Ioan we hear that you tried on a kilt?
IOAN GRUFFUDD: Yes I did. [Everybody laughs] When I went into wardrobe to try out costumes I found Hugh Dancy in a kilt, so they asked me to try on one but it didn't work and I wanted to look more masculine anyway. Of course I spoilt that with my "curled eyelashes". [More laughs]
Antoine what was the pressure like?
ANTOINE FUQUA: Very intense, I wanted to be able to get back into England. I felt that in these times of ours we needed a real hero not a magical sword, so I tried to work from that aspect.
Ioan what was it like playing an action hero other than Hornblower and what is it like to be Reed Richards aka Mr Fantastic of the Fantastic Four?
IOAN GRUFFUDD: It was hard work, a combination of acting and physical tasks very exhilarating. I am very happy for the chance to play Mr Fantastic.
Do you think that you are too young to play Mr Fantastic?
IOAN GRUFFUDD: Well there is always make-up. [Everybody bursts out laughing and he smiles]
Antoine apparently you really wanted to get into the action?
ANTOINE FUQUA: Yes, we had cameras very close to the action. My cameraman was basically a knight he also had a lot of protective gear on him because he was so close to the action.
Jerry was Ireland your first choice?
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: We couldn't get that kind of landscape over here without any inhabitants so Ireland was perfect, we built our own Hadrian's wall.
David what makes King Arthur timeless?
DAVID FRANZONI: Well I grew up with the legend of Arthur but we needed to pay heed to the legend, at the same time we needed to make him a universal soldier.
For each of you what has been your favourite Arthur movie and Monty Python crop up on the set?
Everybody says Excalibur except Ioan Gruffudd.
Ray what was it like working with your friend Mark Ryan?
RAY WINSTONE: It was a great surprise, because usually people who work with arms aren't quite the full ticket [everybody laughs], and they really like guns. He never really said how good he was and he is very good. Basically you learn the fight and then you break it down and get dirty.
Ioan, were you taught that Arthur was a Roman?
IOAN GRUFFUDD: Yes and I still think so [he smiles]. No, no, but there is a famous Welsh fable with all the knights names.
How did Keira fit in on such a male dominated set?
ANTOINE FUQUA: When she was around the set it wasn't dominated by males. [Everybody laughs]
Jerry was the idea to have so many different stars with varied nationalities a commercial choice?
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: No we just felt that we wanted the characters to be more authentic, they are all Europeans and if you cast a star it would be that star takes on Arthur, we did not want that.
How did you feel the film would have been with an American cast?
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: It would not have been what we wanted it to be
Have you started with PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN 2?
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: No, not yet
Apparently there is a scene where Arthur meets his mentor Polacious that did not make the final cut?
ANTOINE FUQUA: Yes that will be on the DVD, there was not enough time to include it.
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: Antoine filmed a lot of great and brutal action scenes but they could not all fit in so there is going to be a lot of stuff on the DVD.