Before signing onto the fantastical Arthurian legend, The Green Knight, the film’s star Dev Patel says he fell in love with director David Lowery’s script. Like many of the mystical images offered in the film, the “poetic” script cast a spell over the actor which lingered long after he finished reading.
“I was just absolutely enthralled. It had this kind of lyricism and poetry in it,” Patel says. “It was one of those scripts that was so hard to quantize and it kept creeping up on me throughout my day and my week.”
Based on the heavily studied poem Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, Patel takes on the role of Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s reckless and tenacious nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the gigantic emerald-skinned tester of men, called the Green Knight.
“This was a character that really resonated with me. He’s this young, headstrong boy who kind of deals with issues of masculinity and ego and honor and trying to be something in this world and at what cost,” Patel says. “What does that bear on his own moral compass and his relationships with people around him?”
As Gawain makes his journey, he contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character while proving his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom. With the endless possible readings into the original text, Lowery’s adaptation becomes a sort of coming-of-age story for the young Gawain, as described in A.A. Dowd’s review of the film.
The physical and emotional journey aside, Patel also saw the rare opportunity to take on a medieval role typically filled by white men, with the added bonus of horse riding.
“You know a British-Asian guy and Indian guy like me, the opportunity does not come around every so often,” Patel says. “David didn’t really care, it wasn’t even a part of the discussion, which is, what a wonderful opportunity and what an incredible man for letting me be a part of this.”
The Green Knight was written, directed, and edited by Lowery, and stars Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, and Ralph Ineson.
A24's The Green Knight is available on Blu-ray and DVD October 12.