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SYFY WIRE Interviews

Knightfall's showrunner and star reveal more about Mark Hamill's Talus

By Tara Bennett
Tom Cullen and Mark Hamill in Knightfall

When last we saw Knightfall's Templar leader, Landry du Lauzon (Tom Cullen), in the Season 1 finale, his affair with Queen Joan (Olivia Ross) had been revealed and King Philip (Ed Stoppard) stabbed her in retribution. Her dying act was giving birth to Landry's love child, and then he was subsequently thrown out of the Order. Now, the once respected knight has to crawl back to forgiveness in Season 2, which begins March 25 on History.

The key to Landry's path to redemption this season is Talus, a crusty Crusades veteran and Templar trainer who will force Landry to go through him to have any chance of being reinstated with the Order. He's the less kindly Yoda of the story, which is appropriate considering that Mark Hamill is playing Talus.

SYFY WIRE sat down with Knightfall's new showrunner Aaron Helbing (The Flash) and star Tom Cullen to discuss the potential for Landry's deliverance in the face of Talus' ire, and the ticking clock of history that knows the doomed fate of the Knights Templar.

Tom Cullen in Knightfall Season 2

As the new showrunner, where did you start in constructing Season 2?

Aaron Helbing: I watched all of Season 1 and studied it, and then basically built Season 2 off of that based on Landry's indiscretions with Queen Joan, and his relationship with King Philip. I thought there's a great story there because you have these two friends who now are gonna become enemies because of one woman. That really was a launch point for the entire season for both Landry's story, and for King Philip's story, and how eventually these two worlds are going to collide in a really big way. To see what's gonna happen when they collide was instantly the launching point. Essentially, I'm just standing on Season 1's shoulders and building off of it.

What was assuring about Aaron's take on Landry's journey considering you've been playing him so some time and must have had ideas of where his story would go too?

Tom Cullen: I was just thrilled with where Aaron wanted to take the show into this very authentic, very gritty, very real world, as the Templars world, and Landry's world starts to crumble. It's a brutal time and that's where Aaron wanted to take it. In terms of Landry, I really felt that we needed to break Landry down and build him back up again, and that's exactly what Aaron has done superbly.

Landry has lost everything: his place with the Knights, Joan, and his sense of honor. What does he have to live for now?

Cullen: In Season 1, Landry's a very reactionary character, reacting to the consequences of his actions. This season is a lot more about him breaking down his ego and taking responsibility for his mistakes, and seeking redemption with his brothers. I think what he realizes is that he is nothing without them, and he doesn't exist without God, and it's about him re-finding his faith and a sense of purpose. The relationship with Talus is a great combative relationship, where Talus will just not let him slip into those egotistical patterns that Landry follows.

Helbing: The thing about Landry, and all of the Templars, that we get to explore, is he's a human being, so he's subject to all the emotions that all of us experience. That's why I think he's so relatable. We all can go through these struggles. We all have faults, and we all sin, and we just want redemption from our fellow men and women of our families. Talus sees that. He knows what Landry has to go through because he sees there's hope. There's a glimmer of hope and redemption, and Talus is the guiding force that will get him there. Talus recognizes it as he's a fallen man too, and hopefully he can redeem himself as well. So, it's not only just Landry seeking redemption, it's all of them seeking redemption in their own personal ways.

Aaron, talk about how you wooed Mark Hamill to join the show?

Helbing: I had the good fortune of working with Mark on The Flash. When Talus came up, and since Mark is such a pro, he just felt perfect for the part. So, casting and I had a good conversation, "What about Mark Hamill? Yes, let's reach out to Mark and see if he's interested." Luckily, he was.

He's got a lot of the crusty old sage about him, but what's hiding beneath that?

Helbing: Well, the key was that he wasn't gonna be a cliché. He has the robes on, which we know Mark's familiar with robes and all of that. But, it goes back to is this character gonna be interesting to play from an emotional level? It's not just gonna be one-dimensional drill sergeant. There's gotta be something beneath him, and I think that's what Mark was interested in. He read the script. He knew that Talus looks like he's just a mustache-twirling villain in episode one, but through two, three, four, as we get to know Talus, we start to realize there's a lot more going on underneath there. And his relationship between Landry is an example of that. It culminates, I would say, in the first third of the season in an epic way between these two men and it's kind of awesome."

Cullen: Yes. Me and a few of the cast mates, we read it, and we were very moved by it. I think a couple people cried reading it.

Mark Hamill and Tom Cullen in Knightfall

Tom, how was it working with a legend like Mark?

Cullen: It must be strange because when you're so famous and that iconic, I think everyone feels like they have some kind of relationship with you. All of our cast were no different. When I found out that it was Mark that was playing Talus, I was completely overwhelmed and gobsmacked, and incredibly excited and nervous to work with him. Nervous, because I didn't know what he was going to be like. The first thing he did is that he walked in and he completely humbled himself. He first said how excited he was to be here and then he was like, "You guys have been doing this a season, I need you to help me." It was an amazing equalizer. From that moment on, it just all melts away. He's such a great actor. He's so committed and every moment is so alive that you just love playing with him. And his character has got such balls. He's intimidating as an actor to work with and he was a lot of fun.

Technically in 1307, the Knights Templar are wiped out. Do you play towards that yet?

Helbing: We wanted to tell the best story that we could in the eight episodes that we had. Some things that we were building towards, we wrap up, and a lot of other things are still dangling out there. So, without giving a whole lot away, there's not a specific end to the story just because we end the eighth episode.

Cullen: What's really interesting about that historical ticking clock of the inevitable break down and the end of the Templars, is that it pushes the story and the momentum forward. The stakes are just constantly high, and like Landry's search for redemption, is under pressure. Those two things mixing together is actually really exciting. I think it gives the show a real forward momentum.

Knightfall returns on Monday, March 25 at 10PM.