Meet 'Knightfall' Star Tom Forbes: How He and His Character Plan to Shake Up Season 2 (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
For Tom Forbes, scoring the role of Prince Louis on Knightfall was an "absolute dream."
"Imagine your 6-year-old self playing in the garden with swords. It's brilliant!" he raved during a phone interview with ET last Friday. "It's a dream for any guy."
Alongside a slew of additions to the History series (the most high-profile of which included Mark Hamill as Talus) Forbes joined this season as Prince Louis, the unpredictable, sometimes violent son of Ed Stoppard's King Philip. Forbes, who described his journey to starring on Knightfall as the "standard route" -- he studied theater for three years at university in Leeds, before honing his craft for another two years at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts -- considers the series a definite high in his career.
"I come from a very theater-oriented family. My mom worked in the theater, so it's in my genes," he explained. "But it's been an up and down journey, as you expect as an actor. I've done some brilliant things I'm quite proud of. And it culminated here in Knightfall in the second series. It's been an up and down journey, but I'm glad to be where I'm at now."
Stepping into Prince Louis' shoes was "one hell of a ride," Forbes told ET, explaining how he spent time researching the French monarch and found inspiration in one of Louis' nicknames: "The Quarreler."
"I kind of attached myself to that notion that he was perhaps slightly impetuous, slightly unpredictable, and worked with that," he said. Fans have already seen that side of Louis -- who, in the first two episodes of this season, has cut off fingers, dug up bodies, taken down Templar Knights and talked back to his father.
"I think Louis, like anybody born into a royal family where you're expected to be heir, you're the crown prince, there's levels of expectations at the point of your conception, really," Forbes continued. "He has a strained relationship with his father… He's grappling with expectations from all fronts, and his father, as you'll find out, sends him on all sorts of paths to fulfill his ambition. So it's very difficult. And at the moment, I can understand people not knowing where his loyalties lie, but that will become hopefully clearer."
Though merciless killing doesn't seem to upset Louis -- he had his henchmen brutally eliminate any obstacles to tracking down his late mother's child on Monday night's episode -- Forbes doesn't consider his character a "classic sociopathic killer."
"I think he's afraid of losing people he cares about… but he also is hardened. He's seen some pretty brutal things," he shared. "He cares deeply for the people that he loves, and I think perhaps that's a softer side to him, which we'll be seeing later on."
It's those battle scenes, however, that Forbes seems to enjoy most -- just like the show's other Tom, star Tom Cullen, who broke both his big toes while filming a massive fight sequence on the first day of shooting season two. Cullen previously told ET that he wasn't too upset by the injury, raving about going bigger and better with his stunts in Knightfall's "grittier" second season.
"He's a trouper, Tom. He's a real trouper," Forbes said with a laugh, recalling Cullen's no-limits attitude. Like most of the cast, Forbes went through three weeks of boot camp before filming even started, and spent three hours every morning working out, learning fight sequences and horseback riding.
Those weeks in the trenches bonded him with Cullen and the other actors portraying members of the Knights Templar, who were pretty much separated once filming started as their storylines diverged. However, with Prince Louis tracking down Cullen's Landry -- and the knight's child with Louis' mother -- Forbes insisted their "worlds will collide."
"I think it really suits the wonderful script that [new showrunner] Aaron [Helbing] and his writing team have managed to pull out. It's a very exciting thing to be a part of," he said, praising the show's "darker" tone and more "truthful" depiction of medieval France.
"The royals and the Templars will collide at some point in a glorious explosion," Forbes promised. "It will be worth the wait, for sure."
Knightfall airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History. See more on the series in the video below.