The Kid Who Would Be King is a film that is seeped in history and myth.
That’s hardly surprising, as it revolves around young Londoner Alex (Louis Serkis) realizing that he is the legendary British leader King Arthur and then, under the guidance of the legendary wizard Merlin, uniting his friends and enemies to defeat the wicked enchantress Morgana.
The film feels epic, as it full of set pieces and the characters travel across various English locations in Louis’ pursuit to learn the truth about his past. All the while, Louis carries a book that he insists proves he’s related to Arthur.
Is The Kid Who Would Be King based on a book?
But is The Kid Who Would Be King itself based on a book? Not at all. In fact, it all came from the mind of its writer and director Joe Cornish.
“It began when I was 12 or 13 when I saw ET and John Boorman’s Excalibur. I was a little movie buff and I was always inventing my own movies. I thought, ‘Man this would be a good idea for a film. The British version of ET whether it was a little British kid like Elliot living a normal suburban life who discovered the Sword in the Stone and went on his own modern Arthurian adventure.’”
“I thought of it as a kid and as well as being a wish fulfillment for children, it was also wish fulfillment for its director, who got his childhood wish fulfilled.”
Rebecca Ferguson, who plays Morgana, was immediately attracted to what Cornish was going to do with the Arthurian legend.
“The story has been told so many times, so I think for Joe he’s attacking it in a new fresh way and I think the way he is doing it is telling the story through a modern time for children.”
“His vision was to take away all the class system and to make a film about a little boy who even though he is from working class or middle class basically, not royalty, has the ability to show bravery and honor and that’s what life is about basically which is a lovely topic and a lovely message to the children.”
Ferguson says playing Morgana was “so much fun,” and during her research of the powerful enchantress from the Arthurian legend she clearly became in awe of her, too.
“She was an incredibly extraordinary woman. You know with a lot of sadness, she was brought in and realized her powers and got cast away from her family because of this and what did she know better than to use it as black magic? It’s sad, it’s a sad story”
Over the last few years Cornish has been linked with several American blockbusters, including Star Trek. But both of his films, Attack The Block and The Kid Who Would Be King, are deeply rooted in their Englishness.
“They are both about fantastic things happening in very normal places,” he explains. “I suppose I’m trying to make those normal places as realistic as possible, so I’m coming from my own personal experience I suppose trying to find an authenticity that might not be there if I had set the story in American suburbia.”
“The other thing is in this movie, Britain has an incredibly rich history of medieval, you know the Arthurian myth is an ancient British origin story really, so this particular story needs to be told in Britain really. A movie like Percy Jackson struggles a bit to feel like you’ve got that real depth in the mythological history in the States, it would be more credible to tell that story in Europe I think, not that America isn’t the most incredible culture in terms of creating its own mythology.”
The Kid Who Would Be King is now in cinemas.