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

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