Trivia / Excalibur

For the film:

  • All-Star Cast: Patrick Stewart (Leondegrance), Liam Neeson (Gawain), Gabriel Byrne (Uther), Helen Mirren (Morgana), Nicol Williamson (Merlin), and Ciarán Hinds (Lot). This is actually an inversion, as none of them were especially big at the time, at least not in the United States, and John Boorman chose them because they were relatively unknown and didn't want big stars to overshadow the production. Which makes this Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • Dawson Casting: Nigel Terry was 35 playing Arthur from a teenager to a 20-to-30-something king, and then finally as an old man. Similarly, 29-year old Cherie Lunghi played Guinevere from teenager to full adult queen to an old woman living out the rest of her life in quiet misery as a nun.
  • Divorced Installment: John Boorman originally wanted to do a film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, compressing the trilogy into one very long film, but he couldn't get the rights to it so he made Excalibur instead. Reportedly his screen treatments sexed up Tolkien's story quite a bit, including but not limited to giving Frodo Baggins nude scenes with Arwen and Galadriel and having the House of Healing scene between Eowyn and Aragorn feel like a sex scene (as he planned to have Eowyn settle down with Aragorn, which reportedly was Tolkien's original idea). Generally the Arthurian myth sounds like it was better suited to him than Tolkien!
  • Doing It for the Art: The film was a real labour of love for John Boorman, having been trying to get it made since 1969.
  • Fake Nationality: Patrick Stewart as a French King. And not for the last time.
  • Hostility on the Set: John Boorman cast Nicol Williamson and Helen Mirren as enemies in the film for this exact reason. They'd previously co-starred in a disastrous production of Macbeth where they absolutely hated each other. Boorman felt that their natural animosity would be perfect for their roles. Neither realised the other would be in the film until filming started. Mirren recalled that they got on very well once they were "freed from the shackles of Macbeth".
  • Missing Trailer Scene: The trailer has Lancelot defending Guenevere from a forest bandit. This doesn't happen in the film.
  • Real-Life Relative: Queen Igrayne and her grandson Mordred (as a boy) were played by John Boorman's daughter Katrine and son Charley. Another daughter, Telsche, played the Lady of the Lake.
  • Reality Subtext: The animosity between Merlin and Morgaine wasn't just acting. Nicol Williamson and Helen Mirren had previously co-starred in a disastrous production of Macbeth, where they couldn't stand each other. John Boorman cast them because he thought their natural animosity would be perfect. Neither realised the other would be in the film until filming started.
  • Throw It In!:
    • When Uryens knights Arthur with Excalibur, he's visibly trembling from emotion. In reality the actor was shivering from the cold; they were in the castle moat.
    • Baby Arthur grabbing a hold of Igrayne's hair was a coincidence.
  • What Could Have Been:
  • Working Title: John Boorman had wanted to call this Merlin but CBS had a show called Mr Merlin so they had exclusive usage of the "Merlin" name. It began shooting as Knights but Ridley Scott had registered Knight for a medieval epic he was planning with Walter Hill as his follow-up to Alien. They were already shooting before they decided on Excalibur.

For the comic book:

  • Executive Meddling: What ultimately put an end to the Wisdom/Kitty Pryde relationship, as Marvel didn't want to age Kitty too age and felt uncomfortable with the idea of a teenager dating an idea, through during it, they ultimately decided to make Kitty in her early 20s.
  • Written-In Infirmity: Chris Claremont was seriously ill for several months while working on this title, so Frank Tieri took over during that time.