'Knightfall' Star Olivia Ross on Whether Joan's Affair With Landry Will 'Explode' (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
Don't mess with Joan!
Wednesday's episode of Knightfall finally saw Queen Joan's (Olivia Ross) true potential as a leader, as she killed her cousin, Queen Elena (Claudia Bassols), in order to save both her family and her home of Navarre -- but it seems her real battle is only just beginning.
"That was fantastic. I loved filming that episode," Ross raved to ET of Joan's game-changing moment. "It was so completely incredible to have almost Shakespearean, or at least definitely epic, speeches to say to a whole army. That was incredible, to play that strength and to play a leader, really."
"[The show] starts with this quite personal situation with her lover and her husband, and it grows more and more into political dilemma and how she is as a ruler, and what kind of queen she wants to be," she added.
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'Knightfall': Queen Joan Makes a Big Move to Save Her Family
While Joan was off creating peace through murder, her husband, Prince Philip (Ed Stoppard), was back in France -- and with De Nogaret (Julian Ovenden), discovering his wife's affair with Landry (Tom Cullen). The news is definitely out, but according to Ross, the question now is whether or not it "explodes."
"In many family situations, people can decide to not speak about certain things. Even the most shocking situations sometimes remain unspoken within families. The question is, in this family, 'Will people remain mute, or will they speak their issues?'" she said, teasing that her character may have reached the point of not trying to hide that she's carrying Landry's child anymore.
"She knows how to play the game she's in. She's been married since she was 11. She knows how all of this functions, but she's very much an idealist," Ross explained. "She dreams about going to Navarre with her lover, which is relatively insane as a plan, but I think that will come to clash. She is someone who doesn't do well with pretending. She wants something extremely genuine."
"[Joan] wants to be a really good queen, a really good mother, a really good lover, but she wants all of that to be real by the end of the show," she added.
It's a lofty goal, but one that Ross certainly enjoyed playing.
"Every new episode, I was like, 'Oh my god.' I felt so lucky and grateful that the creative team judged me capable to do these amazing scenes, really epic situations, and constantly renewing the challenges of the character," she shared, adding that her preparation for the role included historical records, research on pregnancy -- "I haven't had a child," she noted, "So of course you have to research that" -- watching films about love triangles, and reading poems. "You want to trigger things, and awaken things in you... [you need to get to] that epic space of where the stakes are really, really high."
The stakes will only continue to raise for Joan, as Ross shared that her character's discovery of her daughter, Princess Isabella's (Sabrina Bartlett) misdeeds in Wednesday's episode become somewhat of a turning point in their relationship.
"She finds out that her daughter orchestrated [Luis' death] with De Nogaret. She thought she was a pawn in his game, that she was manipulated by him. But when her cousin says that she potentially was the cause of someone's death, I think that's the first kind of shock to the system," Ross said. "'Did I bring someone into the world who's not a good person?' Obviously there's a lot of internal fights about whether that's the case or not, because you never want to believe that people are bad, let alone your own children.'"
"Each new episode is a challenge," she continued of Knightfall. "Some of it is really, highly personal and love affairs and family drama, and others are highly political situations and how the two interact with each other is what makes Joan a really interesting character. She's not just a lover or a wife or a mother. She's all of these things."
Knightfall airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History.