Why 'Knightfall' Star Ed Stoppard Was 'Happy' to See His Character Kill [SPOILER] in Season Finale (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
The season one finale of Knightfall definitely didn't disappoint.
The final hour of the History series was full of surprises, from King Phillip's (Ed Stoppard) bloody fight with Queen Joan (Olivia Ross) to the Knights Templar's massive battle against De Nogaret's (Julian Ovenden) mercenaries -- and the queen's ultimate death at the hands of her husband.
Joan's murder was a huge jump from the forgiveness Philip appeared to show at the beginning of the episode, but for Stoppard, it couldn't have been more "satisfying."
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"Up until then, Philip had sort of been at the mercy of other people's actions, and other people's choices, and suddenly he is in charge of his own destiny," Stoppard explained to ET. "Even though that destiny becomes a very violent and a very bloody one, I really loved him having that kind of urgency and that agency."
Bloody is right. After beating Landry (Tom Cullen) to a pulp, Joan, on the verge of giving birth to her and Landry's child, begged Philip to let her lover go -- which Philip obliged after forcing his sword through her chest.
"I know that his actions were ultimately pretty appalling, but I was pretty happy for him," Stoppard said. "I was happy that the truth was revealed to him, and he had the wherewithal and the necessary self-belief and self-assertion to act on those revelations and to take ownership of his own story. And as an actor, it's something really nice to play, particularly when your character has somewhat dwelled in a state of ignorance for periods of his story. It was just really satisfying."
"[Showrunner] Dominic Minghella had given me the story arc, so I knew there was going to be an opportunity for the character to have a moment of awareness and then act upon that revelation, but you hope that when the script is handed to you that it feels very truthful," he continued. "He had these really fantastic, nuanced scenes with Joan and Philip and De Nogaret, and then due attention was given to that final confrontation with Landry."
Stoppard and Cullen also worked together to makes sure the fight between the former best friends resonated with audiences, filming the scene against the just seven hours of light they had during a harsh winter. "I think often the best days come about when you're up against it, and you haven't really got time to sit and indulge yourself too much, and Tom was completely committed on that day, just in particular," Stoppard revealed.
"He'd been in those woods for a week fighting, so, in some respect, it made my job easier, because he was just so immersed in that moment for his character," he shared. "I just really loved the way that the scene was choreographed, and the way it progressed on the page, and then the intervention of Joan. I just felt very true to the character of Philip, the moment of him murdering his wife, the woman he loved, the woman he's loved since he was a teenager."
Despite Landry's attempt to save Joan with the Holy Grail, the queen succumbed to her wounds -- but not before her and Landry's daughter was saved via an old fashioned C-section courtesy of Draper (Nasser Memarzia). As for what this means for season two (the series is still awaiting renewal), Stoppard said he thinks the fight between Philip and Landry is far from over.
"I don't expect Philip to open a hippie commune in southern France and retire to grow grapes and make wine," he joked. "I think the after-effects of this will probably scar his character, and by extension, his behavior... [and] now that it's been revealed that the Grail is in France and close by, I would imagine that Philip would use everything within his power to try and take the Grail back. And I would also presume that Landry will be doing his utmost to keep it out of Philip's hands."