RT Podcast

"Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong" About... A Knight's Tale (With Special Guest Tim Blake Nelson)

The Old Henry star waxes nostalgic about the pure, unadulterated pleasures and rockin' soundtrack of the Heath Ledger crowd-pleaser.

by | October 28, 2021 | Comments

Heath Ledger in A Knight's Tale

(Photo by Everett Collection)

Before he found love on Brokeback Mountain or sowed chaos as the Joker, a rising star named Heath Ledger headlined a breezy, tongue-in-cheek medieval adventure about a lowly squire who  assumes the identity of a noble knight and becomes a master of the joust. Peppered with contemporary references and backed by a soundtrack that included Queen, War, and David Bowie, the purposefully anachronistic A Knight’s Tale didn’t rock the critics quite enough to be Fresh — at 59% on the Tomatometer, it’s just barely Rotten — but it went on to earn a cult following all the same.


Listen Now: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher TuneIn | Google Podcasts | Radio Public | Deezer | iHeart | Art19


Just over 20 years after its initial release, it may finally be time to reassess this feelgood crowd-pleaser. The film, which opened in theaters on May 11, 2001, features a crackling supporting cast that includes perennial fan favorite Alan Tudyk, future Game of Thrones alum Mark Addy, a sparkling Shannyn Sossamon, a gleefully evil Rufus Sewell, and a scene-stealing Paul Bettany as none other than Geoffrey Chaucer himself. It was also written and directed by Brian Helgeland — yes, the same Brian Helgeland who wrote L.A. ConfidentialMystic River, and Man on Fire. Everyone’s entitled to have a little fun at their job once in a while, right?

But the crown jewel of the film is, of course, a young Heath Ledger, whose Hollywood debut came just two years prior to A Knight’s Tale in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You, which established his heartthrob bona fides and set him on the path to stardom. As the plucky upstart William Thatcher, Ledger is the perfect mix of sweetness and swagger, not to mention those appropriately dashing good looks, and by sheer force of charisma, he just makes you want to root for him.

So what did 41% of the critics miss here? Some acknowledged the film’s charms but felt they were few and far between. Others claimed that the anachronisms — cute as they were — weren’t particularly clever or inventive, while still others didn’t believe Helgeland and co. went ballsy enough.

This week’s guest has a little something to say about all that. Joining regular co-hosts Jacqueline Coley and Mark Ellis is the venerable Tim Blake Nelson, star of O Brother, Where Art Thou?HolesThe Incredible Hulk, and more recently, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Old Henry, the latter of which is Certified Fresh at 95% and currently available on VOD. Nelson waxes nostalgic about watching A Knight’s Tale repeatedly with his seven-year-old son, describes the “unpretentious, pure, unadulterated fun” that defines the movie, and explains how the film was misunderstood by critics who weren’t willing to judge it on its own terms. As a bonus, he also talks about the kind of man Ledger was (Nelson is friends with Michelle Williams, who had a son with Ledger) and even offers a juicy tidbit about his work on Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming Nightmare Alley.

Check in every Thursday for a new episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast From Rotten Tomatoes). Each week, hosts Jacqueline and Mark and guests go deep and settle the score on some of the most beloved – and despised – movies and TV shows ever made, directly taking on the statement we hear from so many fans: “Rotten Tomatoes is wrong.”


Check out some more episodes of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong:


If you have a suggestion for a movie or show you think we should do an episode on, let us know in the comments, or email us at rtiswrong@rottentomatoes.com.


Meet the hosts

Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.

Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.


On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.


Tag Cloud

sitcom nature FOX FXX Certified Fresh El Rey Rom-Com APB Cosplay Columbia Pictures basketball HBO Go Holiday Musicals golden globe awards dogs a nightmare on elm street MSNBC 2018 spanish language USA Network sports OneApp Disney Plus Image Comics Photos blockbuster Disney+ Disney Plus dexter NBC movie know your critic Valentine's Day politics zombies Ellie Kemper spider-man Western theme song Winter TV Sundance Now supernatural political drama Instagram Live sequel wonder woman true crime italian aapi Kids & Family BAFTA twilight streaming venice crime drama laika CBS Sundance 2019 sopranos live event Fall TV Nickelodeon screen actors guild new star wars movies dc Comic-Con@Home 2021 what to watch children's TV Elton John Interview finale comedies satire VICE Hollywood Foreign Press Association king arthur christmas movies Television Academy TV One singing competition The Witch razzies DC Universe 21st Century Fox Binge Guide Paramount Network Mary Tyler Moore superhero werewolf Paramount Plus DC Comics vampires canceled thriller stand-up comedy Sci-Fi Peacock saw Comics on TV Amazon Studios DC streaming service mission: impossible comic Britbox diversity RT History WGN independent witnail sequels Adult Swim Endgame crime thriller olympics Creative Arts Emmys Lifetime ID rotten Film Neflix FX on Hulu Box Office technology Marathons AMC Plus Superheroes SundanceTV critic resources Star Wars TruTV Masterpiece tv talk rotten movies we love Academy Awards Warner Bros. The Walt Disney Company SDCC art house canceled TV shows remakes Ghostbusters Tags: Comedy television romantic comedy Mudbound NBA boxing Esquire Song of Ice and Fire Premiere Dates hispanic Crackle MTV Trivia AMC OWN Turner french Hallmark Christmas movies best GIFs nfl Alien First Look Holidays game show Rock mockumentary Hear Us Out japan Universal Disney CW Seed BET Heroines Extras nbcuniversal Wes Anderson women Polls and Games Emmys Set visit marvel cinematic universe animated HBO Max biography Horror golden globes Cannes TV ITV trailers PlayStation batman new york toy story Tokyo Olympics DGA slashers adventure festival Tarantino reboot directors Bravo Dark Horse Comics unscripted lord of the rings Spectrum Originals Video Games cancelled science fiction comic books godzilla miniseries historical drama Red Carpet 90s discovery green book telelvision Lucasfilm Thanksgiving Fox News dragons foreign video on demand facebook disaster halloween tv revenge Apple TV Plus festivals SXSW news Disney streaming service Netflix blaxploitation fresh RT21 FX VOD cancelled television leaderboard scary movies ratings target 2016 TCA 2017 war psycho Spring TV PaleyFest Fantasy Sony Pictures toronto 1990s kaiju LGBT Travel Channel Best and Worst concert Syfy Ovation 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards elevated horror Fox Searchlight police drama Country Showtime aliens USA pirates of the caribbean monster movies child's play casting scary Awards Tour cults award winner black parents E! binge 2020 blockbusters royal family TLC BBC America Amazon 4/20 Year in Review Quiz 24 frames hidden camera Grammys Tomatazos Countdown Acorn TV Amazon Prime young adult critics Opinion Funimation Food Network YouTube Premium Arrowverse stop motion romance spy thriller Black History Month Watching Series History renewed TV shows Pacific Islander Universal Pictures Chernobyl A24 robots football Rocky australia indie TNT Star Trek documentaries 2015 73rd Emmy Awards Musical New York Comic Con comic book movie Marvel Studios adenture spain Lifetime Christmas movies DirecTV Spike superman Pixar Turner Classic Movies MCU HBO Writers Guild of America space Martial Arts Lionsgate prank Apple TV+ transformers Legendary justice league IMDb TV CBS All Access based on movie Music sag awards worst movies Infographic high school dramedy Trophy Talk Paramount Cartoon Network cinemax name the review game of thrones 72 Emmy Awards TCA Winter 2020 doctor who Toys boxoffice dark international Apple Broadway asian-american spinoff X-Men ghosts popular Starz 20th Century Fox American Society of Cinematographers 99% archives crossover The Purge BBC cancelled TV series Crunchyroll ESPN kids Shondaland strong female leads Winners WarnerMedia video movies crime docuseries hollywood ABC genre Election Discovery Channel YouTube cooking comiccon Mystery legend Walt Disney Pictures Reality Competition Christmas latino biopic 93rd Oscars Biopics kong social media Classic Film Schedule rt archives Baby Yoda classics TCA Awards posters teaser 79th Golden Globes Awards Tumblr heist movie Black Mirror talk show all-time BBC One japanese Drama Netflix Christmas movies Captain marvel psychological thriller worst cars black comedy cartoon book adaptation Emmy Nominations reviews stoner obituary Character Guide south america franchise free movies action-comedy TV renewals VH1 NYCC Oscars San Diego Comic-Con Marvel Television streaming movies Logo Action BET Awards mutant The Walking Dead fast and furious mcc 71st Emmy Awards Awards Disney Channel 45 scene in color dceu mob jurassic park Exclusive Video Pride Month GoT Pop IFC Films hist Sneak Peek documentary rt labs Women's History Month cats Superheroe Vudu rom-coms Shudder YouTube Red breaking bad Television Critics Association screenings trophy Animation indiana jones E3 spider-verse Comedy TIFF Nominations IFC TBS book National Geographic 2017 cops Hallmark Pirates zero dark thirty Film Festival gangster comics criterion Epix See It Skip It harry potter Stephen King Rocketman rt labs critics edition suspense Trailer Comedy Central Anna Paquin cancelled TV shows adaptation CNN composers Sundance TV james bond Podcast live action Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt series LGBTQ Calendar The Academy Super Bowl HFPA anthology joker YA PBS Mary Poppins Returns TCA Freeform ViacomCBS hispanic heritage month films GLAAD marvel comics Teen Reality ABC Family Hulu docudrama Fargo Mindy Kaling Pet Sematary jamie lee curtis President die hard Prime Video TCM comic book movies First Reviews debate anime Pop TV Marvel feel good chucky vs. spanish scorecard emmy awards 007 Comic Book travel Chilling Adventures of Sabrina new zealand universal monsters ABC Signature The CW versus Brie Larson deadpool halloween zombie Amazon Prime Video Nat Geo Avengers medical drama dreamworks TV Land quibi The Arrangement A&E Mary poppins serial killer natural history Summer 2021 period drama king kong slasher richard e. Grant CMT TV movies Tubi Family