It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 15 years since medieval adventure A Knight’s Tale galloped into our lives back in 2001 and saw a flurry of awesome actors splintering across the screen with a jousting pole in hand. All to a classic rock soundtrack, of course. And in saying that, it’s even more heartbreaking to realize that it’s been over eight years since the passing of Heath Ledger. If you need a reminder of his rousing performance in this Geoffrey Chaucer-inspired rom-com, here it is:In celebration of the chivalrous fun of this fourteenth century extravaganza, why not delve right into some in-depth behind-the-scenes insane trivia to remind you why this remains one of the most rockin’ movies in recent decades:1. The problem with the video release of A Knight’s Tale
The ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘A Knight’s Tale’ connection
The video version of the movie came out just before September 11, 2001, right before the tragic attacks on New York’s World Trade Center. As one of the previews shown before the movie contained a shot of the ill-fated building, in the promo for 2002’s Spider-Man, the entire release had to be recalled due to its sensitive content.At the time, several news stories also reported that the film was one of the in-flight movies on the airliners that came down that day.2. Footage of an almost deadly accident was used in the final cut of the movie
A near-lethal jousting blow
In the first scene that sees two knights jousting, Heath Ledger’s stunt double was actually involved in an accident in which he was hit in the head with a lance, falling to the ground unconscious.
The entire clip made its way into the movie’s opening scene. Here’s the first half of the intro:3. Two of the characters are borrowed directly from The Canterbury Tales
Peter v. Simon
It’s Peter the Pardoner and Simon the Summoner!
4. Shannyn Sossamon was discovered at Gwyneth Paltrow’s party
Shannyn Sossamon as Jocelyn
The actress who played crazy hairstyle advocate and love interest Jocelyn was helping a friend DJ at a birthday party for Gwyneth Paltrow when she was spotted by casting director Francine Maisler (known for The Usual Suspects.) Soon after, she smashed it at an audition for A Knight’s Tale, after which her Hollywood fairy tale began.
5. A few of the extras were homeless people
The extras on the set of ‘A Knight’s Tale’
Many of them were from Prague and couldn’t speak any English.
6. Heath Ledger knocked out one of the director’s teeth with a broomstick
Heath Ledger with his lance
Yup, when director Brian Helgeland and Heath were rehearsing a jousting move, Ledger accidentally smashed out his front teeth. Apparently, the damage took months to heal. Ouch!
7. Gelderland is a real place in Germany and the Netherlands
Old map of the Rhein area
Often when William Thatcher’s alias Sir Ulrich’s full name was mentioned in scenes during cinema screenings, in-the-know audiences from that part of the world would erupt in giggles.
8. Ulrich von Liechtenstein was actually a real person
And while it may also appear as if Thatcher just came up with his alter-ego on the spot, the behind-the-scenes reality is actually very different. Looking back at history, the supposedly fictional character was actually a real knight who also wrote literature about medieval knighthood and noble customs. His most notable autobiographical poem was called Frauenbuch (or, The Service of Ladies) and was published all the way back in 1250.9. Paul Bettany gave himself laryngitis from shouting too much
Paul Bettany damaged his vocal chords
To be fair, he really does it give it his all with all the yelling throughout the entire movie. Those poor vocal chords!
10. The sneaky Nike product placement
Oh hey, Nike!
Indeed, modern athletic wear company Nike weaseled its way into the movie in the form of a inconspicuous blacksmith’s mark that Kate puts on William’s armor. Naturally, it’s in the shape of their trademark “swoosh” symbol.
Which A Knight’s Tale fact surprised you the most?