director.gif (905 bytes) Antoine Fuqua


Clive Owen - Arthur
Keira Knightley - Guinevere
Ioan Gruffudd - Lancelot
Stephen Dillane - Merlin
Stellan Skarsgård - Cerdic
Til Schweiger - Cynric
Ray Winstone - Bors
Hugh Dancy - Galahad
Mads Mikkelsen - Tristan
Joel Edgerton - Gawain

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7 July 2004  [USA]
USA, 120 min.
Touchstone Pictures

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Historians have thought for centuries that King Arthur was only a myth, but the legend was based on a real hero, torn between his private ambitions and his public sense of duty. A reluctant leader, Arthur wishes only to leave Britain and return to the peace and stability of Rome. Before he can, one final mission leads him and his Knights of the Round Table to the conclusion that when Rome is gone, Britain will need a leader to fill the vacuum. Britain needs a king - someone not only to defend against the current threat of invading Saxons, but to lead the isle into a new age. Under the guidance of Merlin, a former enemy, and the beautiful, courageous Guinevere by his side, Arthur will have to find the strength within himself to change the course of history.


Filming began June 23, 2003 and went on until November. Ireland locations included the counties of Kildare, Wicklow and Dublin. Late additional footage was then shot in the UK in May. It was reported that emergency talks were held to consider the future of the King Arthur production following delays and spiralling costs, but the shoot continued. Even before this, the project had a total budget of €90 million and was noted as the largest budget film ever to be shot in Ireland. Post-production must have gone smoothly because the film was due to premiere on December 25, 2004 and was pushed up five months.


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“I grew up watching epics like Lawrence of Arabia. When a script like this comes along, you’d be crazy to pass it up.”


"Carefully written dialogue scenes (a few a tad pedantic), all wonderfully played by the excellent cast, establish characters and situations before battles rage... The villains are terrific. Skarsgård's bearded Saxon leader, looking like a foul priest, is cruel and sadistic but with high intelligence and a zeal to encounter the great Arthur."  ...The Hollywood Reporter

"The yang to Arthur’s vigorous defense of liberty is the genocidal Saxon conqueror Cerdic, played with quiet menace by Stellan Skarsgård. Skarsgård dominates all his scenes with soft-spoken psychopathic fervor and boundless villainy."

"The best thing about this picture is the chief villain, the Saxon Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgård) known to Arthur as simply 'Saxon,' a chap fond of saying 'kill them all and burn the village.'" critic Harvey Karten

"Skarsgård is tremendous fun as a ruthless warrior!"  ...LA Daily News

"Arthur's antagonist, a Saxon chief played by Stellan Skarsgård, is a stupendously unpleasant brute who slays his own lieutenants at the merest hint of insubordination... 'Burn every village - kill everybody', he says, not in a booming war-cry but in a matter-of-fact undertone, which is far more chilling... Skarsgård is all the more compelling a presence given the shortfall of charisma among the good guys."

"While Owen and Gruffudd are engrossing, strong characters tethered to testosterone, it is Skarsgård who is original and electrifying in his tribal ruthlessness as the sadistic leader of the Saxons. In one great scene, the Saxon leader revels in finally meeting Arthur on the battlefield. The subliminal conflict between Cerdic and his son Cynric and the dominant idea of religion creating wars, elevates this script in the vein of gladiator."    ...Films in Review

"There is one performance worth watching - that of Stellan Skarsgård as the leader of the invading Saxons. He’s just terrific to watch as he grunts and snarls his way through the film."   ...EDGE Boston

"Stellan Skarsgård, as leader of the awful Saxons, bears an astonishing resemblance to Geoffrey Rush in Pirates of the Carribean - he's a joy to behold."  ...South Florida Sun Sentinel

"Stellan Skarsgård's growling-whisper delivery is a clever device to make his Saxon brute even more menacing - and the accent seems perfectly in pitch with his character." ...Film critic Andrew L. Urban

"Burr-voiced Stellan Skarsgård stands out as the leader of the nasty Nordic invaders."  ...St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Among supporting actors, Stellan Skarsgård and Ray Winstone, as the Saxon lord Cerdic and Arthur’s most animated knight give credible supporting performances."  ...Edinburgh News

"Though yet not quite a household name, Owen is a potent, kingly Arthur. Among supporting actors, Stellan Skarsgård and Ray Winstone are most memorable, as the evil leader of the Saxons and Arthur's most exuberant warrior, respectively." ...Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

"There also are some juicy performances from a gifted cast, the two standouts being Skarsgård as the proudly awful Cerdic and Ray Winstone as lusty, boorish Sir Bors, a great roaring beefsteak-faced bully-knight. Although the rest of the cast is good, this is the sort of movie where only the really gifted screamers or close-up hounds make a real impression."   ...Chicago Tribune

"The one bright spot is Stellan Skarsgård as the hairy, helmeted Saxon leader, a mumbling barbarian who rarely speaks above a whisper and never says anything nice. Even in this misfired drama, when he murmurs, 'Burn every village, kill everybody,' it's scary."  ...SF Chronicle

"Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård (City of Ghosts, Taking Sides, Deep Blue Sea) plays the Saxon leader very convincingly, adorned with a blond wig that would make any Metallica fan hot with desire."   ...The Budapest Sun

"Fuqua has always had some facility with action, and the movie has several good setpieces - including a battle on a frozen lake and a final, fiery siege. There's also at least one great performance, thanks to Stellan Skarsgård, who plays a Saxon chief."   ...The Star Ledger

"Saxon king/general Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgård) is low key and hypnotic, and relentlessly interesting."  ...The Detroit News

"The one thing I liked the most was seeing Stellan Skarsgård as the Saxon leader.  He is such an underrated actor and made a terrific villain in this film."   ...The Beaumont Journal

"...Saxon invaders led by Cerdic, played by Stellan Skarsgård (Dogville), who provides one of the film’s best performances as the ruthless Saxon leader looking for a worthy opponent." ...The Gazette

"Stellan Skarsgård, as the hulking, merciless leader of the Saxon army, exudes enough menace for two movies."  ...Miami Herald

Stellan Skarsgård is brilliantly raspy as the fearsome Saxon warlord; the New York Times' A.O. Scott describes him as the Swedish Christopher Walken, and that sounds about right. I love performances like this."  ...Film Blather

"The acting is adequate with only Stellan Skarsgård excelling as the chilling Saxon leader Cerdic."

"More colourful are the Saxon villains, especially Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgård), a monstrous warrior king who has grown lethargic waiting for a worthy enemy to fight. He gets the film's best line. Meeting Arthur on the battlefield, he observes with genuine gratitude, 'Finally, a man worth killing.'"   ...DVD Times

"Of the supporting cast, Skarsgård (Insomnia) comes off best."

"Although the cast is a veritable dream team, the film doesn't give many of the actors a chance to connect with the audience. The exceptions are Winstone, who provides welcome comic relief, and Skarsgård, who reeks of Dark Ages evil."    ..Deseret News

"Stellen Skarsgård and Til Schweiger are also excellent as the determined and ruthless leader of the Saxons and his son.  There is no doubt about who the true enemy is."   ...Hero Realm 

"Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot, Hugh Dancy as Galahad, Mads Mikkelsen as Tristan, and Stellan Skarsgård as Cerdic are standouts among the ensemble. Their strong performances in supporting roles aid Owen and Knightley in making all the characters connect and come to life for the audience."

"King Arthur is worth seeing for its impressive battle scenes - especially the face-off on a lake of cracking ice - and for Stellan Skarsgård, whose performance as Cerdic, the ruthless Saxon leader, is a masterclass in mumbling understatement that makes a potentially cardboard character come to life."  ...Movie Gazette

"Actor Stellan Skarsgård has a lot of fun here as the sullen leader of the Saxon army. He manages to portray a realistic menace, a thinking mans villain stead of an outright brute like the rest of the men he commands."   ...Reel Criticism

"One of the few sparks in the movie is the villainous and gravely voiced  Saxon leader Cerdic (Skarsgård)." ...Three Movie Buffs

"Stellan Skarsgård, as the villainous Saxon leader Cerdic, may have the best thousand yard stare in Hollywood."

"Stellan Skarsgård’s growling-whisper delivery is a clever device to make his Saxon brute even more menacing – and the accent seems perfectly in pitch with his character."  ...Urban Cinefile

"Looking like a medieval Grizzly Adams channeling The Terminator, Stellan Skarsgård as Cedric is worth the price of admission alone. From beneath his rugged fur coat and peeking out from behind his long, knotted hair and abundant beard, his menace seethes."  ...Fantastica Daily

Description of Cerdic: The fearsome commander of the invading Saxon forces. He is a man for whom the end always justifies the means, even if that could mean killing his own son. Cerdic is intelligent, but he is also very pragmatic and very evil. During his time in the Dark Ages, if you had any power and wanted to survive, you had no other choice than to be ruthless.

Cerdic Quotes:

To his son: "As long as my heart beats, you hold your tongue, or I'll cut it out."

"Burn every village, kill everybody - never leave behind a man, woman or child who could carry a sword."

"Finally, a man worth killing."

"If you are not worthy to lead, you are not worthy of death."

"Arthur, wherever I go on this wrenched island, I hear your name. Always half whispered, as if you were, uh, God. All I see is flesh, blood. No more God than the creature you're sitting on."

Cerdic: "You come to beg a truce, you should be on your knees.
Arthur: "I came to see your face so that I alone may find you on the battlefield. And it will be good of you to mark my face, Saxon, for the next time you see it, it will be the last thing you see on this earth.