BBC remakes King Lear with an MMA twist

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Hollow Crown is a series of British television film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s history plays. In their latest, King Lear gets a do-over.

The Shakespearean tragedy depicts King’s the gradual descent into madness after he ineptly divides his kingdom between his daughters. This latest version stars Anthony Hopkins Emma Thompson, and Emma Watson, and boasts an MMA fight scene.

“I thought about what would be a fight scene in an action movie,” said director and adapter Sir Richard Eyre. “What would be a logical fight to have in a contemporary world? It had to be MMA. It’s not something I’d tackled before — MMA is not my usual world!”

The fight is between bitterly estranged half-brothers Edgar and the illegitimate Edmund, played by Scott and John Macmillan, respectively.

“We got seriously banged about,” said Scott, who plays Edmund, to Keith Watson for Metro News. “We were really put though it but had a great fight coordinator, Andreas Petrides, who’s worked on Star Wars and really made it look like a professional MMA fight. But it was a crash course for me, very humbling. I mean, Andrew and I are just actors — these were proper hard guys we trained with, really impressive.”

“Of all the characters in King Lear, the one Shakespeare uses as the voice of the play is this illegitimate son, he’s the lowest born. He’s a favorite for a lot of people because we all have a shadow self, a darkness we don’t let out. So it’s a cathartic release to relish someone else’s evil. And from the opening scene of the play, we engage with him. We value his dark side.”

The MMA scene is choreographed by Andreas Petrides, a lifelong martial artist, retired commando, and one of the UK’s leading action directors, stunt co-ordinators, fight arrangers, and stunt performers. He has worked on over 500 productions worldwide, across 25 years. You have seen him many times, including as fight arranger and stunt double to Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi on Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and as the battle sequence choreographer and stunt double for Joaquin Phoenix on the Oscar-winning Gladiator.

King Lear is on BBC2 on Monday at 9.30pm, then on iPlayer.