Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Director: Ridley Scott
Co-Stars: Orlando Bloom, Edward Norton, Marton Csokas, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, David Thewlis
Summary: The story opens as Balian (Orlando Bloom), a young French blacksmith, is mourning the loss of his wife and young son. It is then that Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson), a highly regarded baron to the king of Jerusalem deeply committed to keeping peace in the Holy Land, comes in search of the grieving Balian, his illegitimate son. Balian relents against his sorrow and chooses to join Godfrey on his sacred mission. Upon his father’s untimely death, Balian inherits land and a title of his own in Jerusalem, a city in which Christians, Muslims and Jews have managed to achieve a peaceful coexistence during this brief interlude of truce between the 2nd and 3rd Crusades. The year is 1186.
Sworn to uphold a noble oath and bound by unshakeable integrity, Balian finds himself in a strange new land, serving a doomed king and drawn to the king’s enigmatic sister, Princess Sibylla (Eva Green). It is in Jerusalem that he rises to become the most honorable and heroic of knights, and ultimately must protect its people from overwhelming forces.
Sibylla, according to Eva: “The character of Sibylla is quite nebulous, we don’t know too much about her. She was madly in love with Guy de Lusignan, the baddie in the movie, and everyone was warning her not to marry him because he was such a moron. Then she put the crown on his head, and there were disastrous consequences for the kingdom. We also know that she had a child who died at 8 years old, though we don’t know how. But I didn’t build my character from the history, it was more on the script.”
“She was a Queen and it was quite hard because she had to maintain this public mask, but she was also a woman and she found life quite difficult with this duality in her life.”
“Sibylla suffers from numerous frustrations. She’s an heroine, not a potiche.”
“There’s another version of the movie that will be released later, it was like three hours and a few minutes so we had to cut the movie and now it’s more focused on the relationship between the Christians & the Muslims, it’s more focused on the men.
First of all it was a too long script so they had to make compromises, the love story might’ve been too long and the son story might’ve been too long also. It will exist though, and my character is extremely different in the other version – she’s more complex. I’m happy it exists and I’m very proud that it’s not going to be locked away.”
“Well, in the second version of the movie, I have a son who is about eight years old and that is a big thing. To me, it is the most beautiful side of the character because she is afflicted by something terrible and he is a leper like his uncle and she is very concerned about everything. It becomes like a tradegy so, therefore, I have a lot of scenes with Tiberius discussing that with him and the relationship with my husband is more complex. Of course, you can’t make a four-hour movie, so we had to cut some stuff.”
How did this project come about:
“It was a long, tough process – five or six auditions. The first was in London with a casting director and I had to learn two monologues of the character. Then I met with Ridley [Scott] in his office and I was completely paralysed because of who he was. I didn’t want to sound too French and didn’t know what he was looking for. Then there was no news, no news, no news. Then another screen test at Pinewood Studios where all the costumes and the actors were. Then another screen test to convince them that I could be more regal and like a queen.”