Want to ‘Get Swole’? Try the Templar Knight Workout, Suggests Knightfall Star Tom Cullen

Downton Abbey alum explains how new History series about the quest for the Holy Grail gave him a Kim Kardashian–like booty.

by | December 3, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by History)

If you’re looking to get fit, Tom Cullen, star of History’s Knightfall, has a suggestion for you: wear chain mail.

The actor stars as Landry, leader of the Knights Templar, in the newest scripted drama from the network home of Vikings — which meant wearing 50 pounds of armor nearly daily for the better part of a year.

“I didn’t want to weigh the costume early on, because otherwise it would just become a thing in my head. I have weighed it since and it has become a thing in my head,” Cullen, who played Lord Gillingham in Downton Abbey, told Rotten Tomatoes. “The costume weighed 50 pounds, which is a lot to be carrying for 14, 15 hours a day when you’re fighting and riding horses. My body changed shape. I went from fit and kind of slender to muscular and big, just from the fact that I was carrying this amount of weight, this heavy costume.

“I couldn’t even get on a horse when I first started,” he confessed. “I had to have a stepladder because I didn’t have the power in my legs to get over the horse. But by the end of the shoot, I was leaping and running and jumping on horses. It was intense.”

So if you want to “get swole,” try the Chain Mail Workout!

“It’s where you wear 50 pounds of chain mail for seven months, every day, 15 hours a day,” Cullen said. “That’s all you have to do. And you’ll end up [muscular]. I’ve had to go to my wardrobe and buy all new trousers because my ass is so big. Honestly, if you want an ass like Kim Kardashian, become a knight.”

(Photo by History)

Knightfall takes place in the 1300s and follows the Knights Templar as they hunt to recover the Holy Grail in the final days of their reign, ahead of their eventual downfall. The series was shot in Eastern Europe on a Prague backlot — “they built medieval Paris, they built a temple, a palace, streets, a market, a moat, castle walls, a church, shops, alleyways, a pub — it was extraordinary,” Cullen said. The show tackles the later days of the Knights Templar’s reign of power.

“They were such a fascinating, clandestine sect,” Cullen said. “That the myriad of lies and layers that they bathed themselves in — it’s very difficult to unpack all of that. It was fascinating to learn about them. It was a real educational process for me.”

While, like most people, Cullen had a working knowledge of the group, he learned a lot while simply researching for his role.

“One of the things that really stuck with me was that they invented to first bank,” he said. “They created the banking system, and they created the first checks. They became the wealthiest fighting force in the world. And they answered to no country, no king, no queen. They only answered to God and to the Pope. No borders. You could cash your money in France, and you could take it out in Jerusalem. They were kind of untouchable. Fascinating guys. The thing that really surprised me was the level of their power. You learn about how they were in the battlefield. They were extraordinary. They would never leave. Even if they were losing, they would never turn their back and run. They would basically only surrender when the last man had been killed. That level of bravery and intelligence is an extraordinary combination, I think.”

(Photo by History)

Cullen’s character, Landry, was taken in by the Knights Templar as a 10-year-old orphan.

“All he’s known is war, fighting, and God. When we first see him in episode 1, he’s a very brash young maverick knight who ultimately loses the Holy Grail and loses Acre, the last stronghold in the Holy Land, which is the one thing that he understands himself through. The series is set 15 years after that event, and we find him questioning everything about himself. He’s questioning his faith and his own identity. He’s a very contradictory, very complex character. He is lying to his brothers. He’s having an affair with a woman. But he is immensely loyal. He is maybe the most fearless, brave knight. Yet he is starting to discover his own humanity and his mortality. He is a very pious man and is still a very faithful man, yet he is starting to discover who he is outside of his brotherhood.”

Yes, that’s right — there’s still plenty of sex on this show about religious monks, and Landry’s dedication to the Knights Templar only wavers when his chastity vow is involved.

“He’s very faithful to her,” Cullen said. “He’s a one-woman kind of guy.”

Except he’s supposed to be a no-woman kind of guy.

Added Cullen, “He’s a very complex guy, which is the kind of guy I’m interested in watching.”

The season will include major developments about Landry’s love — in the first episode, even — but his relationship will take a back seat to his main quest: to recover the Holy Grail.

“Landry goes on a pathological hunt to try and find the Grail, because I think that he entwines a lot of his own identity into that piece of pottery,” Cullen said. “I think that he hopes to find it not only to garner enough power to go back to the Holy Land, which is what he thinks that he should be doing, but also to return himself back to who he was — search for his identity before he became this very complex guy. What’s great is that on the way, we see his life fall apart, and as he discovers more about himself, he discovers more about the people around him and the lies that are entwined around his whole life and his whole existence.”

Knightfall premieres Wednesday, December 6 at 10 p.m. on History.

Tag Cloud

Discovery Channel based on movie mockumentary Action Cartoon Network women Reality Competition CW Seed space spanish documentary razzies Crunchyroll TLC rotten movies we love Film Festival romance Bravo Hulu BET Awards Tomatazos NYCC natural history Image Comics Ghostbusters Nickelodeon vampires Thanksgiving LGBT disaster TruTV cars CBS All Access Nominations 2021 know your critic Lionsgate crime drama NBA comic books talk show news Endgame BAFTA Disney Channel biography HBO TCA Winter 2020 cartoon Hallmark lord of the rings 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Fantasy Hallmark Christmas movies Crackle Fox Searchlight Set visit Lucasfilm Sci-Fi nbcuniversal popular green book indie rt archives Wes Anderson streaming Podcast Binge Guide robots zombie stand-up comedy ABC Signature black canceled TV shows Arrowverse History screen actors guild live action See It Skip It tv talk sequels high school FX on Hulu Photos ABC Family Family Turner Classic Movies First Reviews Disney japanese FX what to watch Country Music Comics on TV Funimation TIFF Amazon Prime slashers TCM australia 71st Emmy Awards Heroines zero dark thirty Horror The Academy young adult Comic-Con@Home 2021 joker Marvel Studios Shondaland screenings Marvel TBS Creative Arts Emmys Winter TV Comic Book Holidays Opinion singing competition Peacock kids Emmys RT History 72 Emmy Awards pirates of the caribbean Tubi First Look police drama Pop TV diversity latino political drama marvel comics American Society of Cinematographers Mudbound MSNBC Year in Review Kids & Family Spike E3 Anna Paquin FXX Awards Tour MTV docudrama A&E fresh indiana jones book adaptation dramedy stoner asian-american ESPN streaming movies Animation worst movies foreign king arthur San Diego Comic-Con The Walking Dead deadpool OneApp serial killer Reality Super Bowl franchise dogs Chilling Adventures of Sabrina romantic comedy AMC universal monsters Paramount YA festival Columbia Pictures miniseries Brie Larson period drama Rock DC streaming service nfl Syfy gangster BET wonder woman revenge Toys Ellie Kemper rt labs critics edition all-time Logo supernatural Showtime The Walt Disney Company 90s Comedy Central adaptation Emmy Nominations cooking adenture The Purge sports 73rd Emmy Awards TV renewals rt labs GIFs TCA 2017 The Arrangement Epix free movies name the review Netflix godzilla dceu Apple TV+ E! BBC cats jamie lee curtis Teen Pacific Islander Countdown aapi video The CW king kong biopic children's TV unscripted toy story spain archives Superheroe BBC America TV One CMT Warner Bros. Polls and Games PaleyFest ratings blaxploitation Star Wars series parents Song of Ice and Fire Infographic OWN technology Summer Spring TV dc 2020 comiccon fast and furious ghosts sag awards cops zombies cancelled TV shows PlayStation ITV breaking bad Lifetime Christmas movies finale Valentine's Day french 45 2017 boxing theme song sitcom superman mutant Sneak Peek El Rey Black Mirror WarnerMedia video on demand monster movies Superheroes Film Dark Horse Comics comic book movies TV movies werewolf harry potter IFC Classic Film slasher Sundance TV Star Trek Television Critics Association documentaries hispanic heritage month Black History Month binge LGBTQ venice Universal independent TV Premiere Dates historical drama feel good golden globe awards Avengers Pixar superhero war hidden camera Nat Geo Christmas Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt emmy awards Musical rotten 2019 cancelled TV series DC Comics comic 24 frames justice league PBS jurassic park HBO Go child's play anthology olympics RT21 HBO Max FOX Vudu Broadway Turner Britbox kaiju Winners mcc GoT game show strong female leads science fiction basketball 2018 movies CBS trailers elevated horror Awards canceled 99% hollywood Marvel Television Watching Series Spectrum Originals royal family ABC richard e. Grant Hear Us Out posters YouTube Premium discovery DGA satire 2015 NBC Interview renewed TV shows Marathons VH1 teaser Character Guide Oscars reboot 4/20 christmas movies Election Lifetime Amazon Studios batman new york APB A24 Grammys Disney+ Disney Plus DirecTV Food Network spinoff 1990s stop motion crossover Biopics SXSW hispanic VICE legend dark travel spanish language SDCC cults Esquire Trivia composers Western psychological thriller Certified Fresh TV Land Box Office aliens 21st Century Fox Rom-Com scene in color Walt Disney Pictures Mary Tyler Moore versus best Paramount Network thriller ID Shudder Disney Plus Fox News Exclusive Video Pride Month book rom-coms Musicals reviews Calendar GLAAD ViacomCBS USA Network Baby Yoda Cannes adventure die hard game of thrones Mindy Kaling medical drama Disney streaming service anime politics MCU Netflix Christmas movies dragons dexter new zealand Rocketman Starz laika award winner YouTube concert Comedy Apple Writers Guild of America 20th Century Fox transformers twilight TCA quibi golden globes films prank Elton John Ovation Mary Poppins Returns Drama true crime cinemax kong sequel facebook Travel Channel debate classics animated critics SundanceTV telelvision Television Academy scary movies social media critic resources crime thriller USA Holiday Cosplay Legendary italian Fall TV action-comedy comic book movie IFC Films obituary Sundance docuseries saw hist mission: impossible movie halloween Women's History Month football Acorn TV DC Universe WGN witnail boxoffice TCA Awards The Witch suspense Red Carpet comedies cancelled halloween tv chucky Amazon Prime Video Masterpiece blockbuster Pet Sematary Martial Arts TNT cancelled television Best and Worst japan Extras Schedule Sony Pictures nature Apple TV Plus CNN Alien casting National Geographic Stephen King Paramount Plus crime Amazon 2016 doctor who Captain marvel VOD Pop YouTube Red toronto Sundance Now Rocky worst 007 Adult Swim remakes marvel cinematic universe Video Games Pirates Chernobyl Mystery scorecard 93rd Oscars Freeform psycho President X-Men spider-man Mary poppins Trophy Talk blockbusters south america BBC One comics directors international target Trailer heist movie new star wars movies Academy Awards Tumblr New York Comic Con Tokyo Olympics Tarantino television criterion spy thriller james bond Quiz a nightmare on elm street festivals