In Netflix’s The King, which premieres next Friday, Timothée Chalamet plays Shakespeare’s Henry V, who ruled England from 1413 until his death in 1422. Many see the new film as a fitting replacement to Game of Thrones, minus the dragons and the sex, given that Henry V is one the Bard’s bloodier plays.
Directed by David Michôd, The King, which is inspired by characters from Shakespeare's plays about Henry IV and V, stars Chalamet as the titular young king, who wages a campaign to annex large areas of France that ends with the 1415 victory at Agincourt
The King also explores the friendship between Henry and an older knight named Falstaff, a fictional character who Shakespeare presented as a bit of a clown, but who is shown in this film as a hard-drinking womanizer, contending with arthritis but nonetheless skilled with a sword. Falstaff, played by Joel Edgerton, who co-wrote the script with Michôd, and has previously worked with the director on numerous other Shakespeare plays in Sydney.
The film begins with Chalamet as young Prince Hal, who is summoned to court by his ailing and paranoid father, played by Ben Mendelsohn, the ruler a country that is falling apart. Hal must leave his hard-partying ways behind to take the throne after the deaths of his father and brother.
The role is tailor-made for Chalamet, who has already proven his acting chops in Call Me By Your Name and Beautiful Boy. In a recent interview, he told Vanity Fair, "You want to become an actor [so you] can wield a sword, ride horses, and play an English king. It sounds absurd to say out loud. Even so, that was exhilarating."
Those expecting pure Shakespeare will be sadly disappointed since the film is not a play-by-play of the Bard’s drama. Rather it is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henriad, the name given to the three plays Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and Henry V, as well as, Richard II, the play that precedes them. The film concerns itself mostly with the corrupting influences of power, and the inhumanity and brutality of war.
The King, which at its heart is an action film since the invasion of France takes up the greater part movie, also stars Robert Pattinson as the Dauphin and Lily-Rose Depp as the French princess Catherine.
The King, which is in cinemas now, will debut on Netflix on November 1.