I do. Just a fun adventure show, sort of like the pirate movies I watched as a kid. But let's talk about “Camelot” and your character. He is not in the Arthurian legend that I can find. But is he supposed to be a new take on Lancelot?
And Leontes, he's actually a Shakespearian character, isn’t he? In the story that we're telling, he's originally one of the knights that guards King Uther. So Leontes, Brastias (Diarmaid Murtagh) and Ulfius (Jamie Downey) are actually taken from King Uther once he dies and they join Arthur's new assembly of men to become the new knights who will look after King Arthur.
So, the character of Leontes, in this, has a relationship with a very young Guinevere. And throughout the episodes you see that relationship develop and they've been betrothed to each other and they get married. That develops and, of course, that leads into the triangle of Leontes, Guinevere and King Arthur, which then again will lead into the love triangle of Guinevere, Arthur and Lancelot.
They’re sort of making Guinevere out to be a flanderer.
[Laughs.] Well, I think it was always a bit of a risk. Tamsin Egerton, who plays Guinevere, is such a beautiful girl. And she's so charming and charismatic that, we always thought that would be a risk as well, but it just doesn't come off that way. She's so good at just being kind of humble and beautiful that you really buy her innocence. They certainly cast the right girl.
Were you a little worried about making this character who people might confuse with Lancelot.
[Creator] Chris Chibnall and I sat down a lot and talked about the character, because I thought it does run the risk of walking a very fine line of becoming another character. However, they haven't introduced that character. So I thought, “Well, let's make him the knight who does protect Arthur.”
He is the leader of the knights. Let's make him that kind of person who has honor and who has integrity and really leads these men into places that really challenge them and we'll see what happens by the end of the series with him—whether he can continue that or not, especially if he finds out about the stuff with King Arthur. So he'll really be put to the test.
Guinevere and Arthur seem to feel bad about messing around, but not bad enough not to do it.
[Laughs.] But not bad enough to stop, which is usually the case with things like that, isn't it? [Laughs.] It's funny because all three of us would get together and chat about this and say we have to make [their attraction based on] either the fact that he is the king or the fact that [Guinevere and Leontes] have been together so long that they know everything about each other and … it's reached that place where it's become commonplace. They know everything about each other. So this young kid comes along and he's also the new king who adds just enough to make it interesting to take her away for a while, to get her distracted.
Let’s about the sword fighting and horse work. You’ve done that before, but was it tricky anyway?
I had, and obviously from “Crusoe,” done quite a bit of sword fighting, and I spent a year with the Royal Shakespeare Company and we did “King Lear.” I played Edmund and Edmund had a lot of sword fighting at the end of the show. I'd actually done this a few years, lots of sword fighting and things back to back to back. I did a film with James Purefoy called “Solomon Kane.” And so sword fighting was always there to tap into.
We had a really good group of guys to work with [on “Camelot”]. It was actually brilliant; they did kind of a boot camp, but a medieval boot camp version when we got there. Every morning on set we'd warm up and then sword fight for a few hours. We'd go horse riding in the afternoon out in the Irish countryside and learn how to bolt up horses and learn how to do some jumping, things like that.
And again, I think most of us had a bit of horse riding experience. I had horse riding experience for growing up in Montana. My grandfather had a ranch and so I grew up on a ranch with him and we’d get cattle and bring them in in the morning, things like that. We didn't have hunter horses or anything; we weren’t jumping. It was very basic stuff with big western saddles. So this was all quite new. It was all very posh and very proper.
Also, with the time period, the Dark Ages, there was potentially a huge amount of power and pomp and circumstance that went with the fact that you owned a horse and knew how to ride a horse. If you were a knight, this was a very big deal. So we kind of applied all that to these characters. These guys definitely were men—weathered, battled-hardened men. We tried to dredge up all that stuff and bring that into the training and to the sword fighting and horse riding. It was definitely good fun.
Your horse has quite a costume.
[Laughs.] My horse’s name was Va Va Voom. That's such an appropriate name: Va Va Voom. [Laughs.] He is an ex polo horse. The thing that Va Va hated more than anything was to be behind another horse. He had to be in front. So when we had scenes where other guys were in front, like when Gawain was in front of me or Brastias or King Arthur, anyone else was in front of me, Va Va was underneath [me] just going crazy. I could feel her engine revving up. She just hated it. I would have to run her up to the front of the group just to calm her down and then we'd have to go back and start all over again. She's a great horse, though.
I remember during “Crusoe” you talked about how you sort of altered your workout regimen to fit the island and the things that would have been available to that character. Did you do that kind of thing in the medieval castles?