US actor Timothee Chalamet said he is relieved he did not get a “stake through the heart” for taking on the role of English king Henry V as his new movie premiered at the BFI London Film Festival.
The Call Me By Your Name star, 23, arrived on the red carpet at the screening of The King dressed in a black sequinned hoodie by Louis Vuitton, alongside the film’s Australian director David Michod and his Australian co-stars Joel Edgerton and Ben Mendelsohn, as well as his French-American girlfriend and co-star Lily-Rose Depp.
He told the PA news agency: “It was daunting and scary and certainly being here, where this is especially reverent, was overwhelming.
“It was scary, but now that we’ve shown it and got some great feedback I think we are all really proud of it and thankful that everyone here isn’t driving a stake through our hearts for being a bunch of Aussies and an American taking on such an important story.”
Chalamet added that his English accent was inspired by “a hodge podge of things”, but would not be drawn on specifics, saying: “I watched a lot, there are a lot of good reference points, but I’m not going to give them away. There are a lot of good movies that are reference points.”
He added that the role gave him increased perspective on the dangerous nature of power, saying: “There was a lesson in that you play out situations or scenes where you’re a young person in a position of power surrounded by adults who are trying to manipulate you or trying to have their way with you and you realise how fallible these institutions of power are.
“It’s obvious in my country right now, with the leadership situation we have there.
“When you’re a kid you think the adults have it all figured out and then you realise your parents are just humans one day and that is kind of what you realise with political figures working on this.”
Edgerton, who plays Falstaff and who wrote the screenplay with Michod, said the film was inspired by his own turn as Prince Hal and Henry V two decades ago,
He added: “There was a moment when I was then asked to do a sword and horse type movie, a terrible way of describing period movies, and I wasn’t very passionate about it but I saw something in it that was very reminiscent of and derivative of Shakespeare’s speeches from various plays and it just got me thinking.
“The passion I had for Henry V, what would it take for us to convince people to let us do our own version of this story and that is where it started.”
Edgerton added that he wanted to portray a different version of Falstaff, inspired by Ray Winstone.
He said: “I worked with Ray Winstone years ago and David and I had these early conversations where looking at the real history of who a lot of scholars say Falstaff was based on, an ex general for Richard II, he had a common distaste for the rule of Henry IV and became friends with Hal.
“So an ex-soldier, and in that period, 45 would qualify you as being an old man, and I mentioned Ray because what if Falstaff was not some ineffectual, super-old obese man but a very bullish guy who was funny and fun to be around and had a political point of view?
“And he would nut you if you crossed him in a pub, not that Ray would do that, but when you know Ray you go, ‘He can look after himself’ and Falstaff could look after himself on the battlefield.”
The King will be released on Netflix on November 1.