News

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

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