History is going medieval with its newest scripted drama Knightfall, and it has pulled out all the stops in order to fully immerse the viewer in the world of centuries ago. The new series is set to premiere next week, and it will take audiences to Paris and Jerusalem in the late 13th century. That means the new series had to build plenty of sets in order to accurately recreate its setting, on that lead actor Tom Cullen (Gunpowder) felt was extraordinary.
The series revolves around politics and warfare, and the Templars' sworn oath to protect religious relics, which leads them to a surprisingly twisty search for the Holy Grail. While that might open it up to plenty of Monty Python jokes, the series does take its subject matter seriously, and that includes delivering a drama that's as accurate as possible.
As Cullen talked about during a recent conference call, Knightfall took considerable steps to ensure it was creating an immersive experience and that included everything from the costumes to the props to the massive sets that were built in Prague to help recreate 13th century Paris and elsewhere. And as Cullen puts it, that level of immersion helped make his job as an actor much easier.
"You just need to immerse yourself in the world and know everything that these men would have known, understand every single permutation and the political permutation that is affected where they reach – where they are at this point and what drives these men and women to do the things that they do. I think that's something that you have to do, otherwise it’s just lazy and in a way unforgivable because at that point that's where you make mistakes.
The costume design, the art direction, the production design, makeup, etc. it was all so dense and real that you feel like you’re right in it as soon as you turn up on set. It's just all there for you, you know, and you can really immerse yourself into the world.
The days we spent on set were amazing. We filmed on the biggest sets in Europe at Barrandov Studios. They built medieval Paris. I've never seen anything quite like it and in the show I have to do this shot where I'm riding down this nearly 200 - meter long street that they built. And there're 350 extras and each extra has a job, each extra has a name. And it's live, real world and you just forget that the cameras are there because it's so extraordinary."
With its heavy emphasis on war and politics, Knightfall will likely earn some comparisons to HBO's Game of Thrones. But, this being History, the series has the benefit of, well… history on its side – at least for those who are looking to blend a little fact with their sword-swinging fiction.
Knightfall premieres Wednesday, December 6 @10pm on History.