Writer/director Brian Helgeland reveals that late star Heath Ledger chose the David Bowie song used in the memorable dance scene from A Knight’s Tale.
Writer/director Brian Helgeland has revealed that the David Bowie song used in A Knight’s Tale‘s memorable dance scene was chosen by star Heath Ledger. Named after the first entry in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the story centers on a peasant who has dreamt of becoming a knight since he was a kid and poses as a noble in order to compete in jousting tournaments. Alongside Ledger, the ensemble cast for the film included Alan Tudyk, Shannyn Sossamon, Mark Addy, Rufus Sewell, and Paul Bettany.
Despite its setting in the Middle Ages, the film became notable for its deliberate usage of classic rock songs in its soundtrack and the film itself, including Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” Released in May 2001, the film received mixed reviews from critics but was a box office success, grossing over $117 million against its $65 million budget. A Knight’s Tale was also at the center of a scandal from Columbia Pictures as it was revealed the studio concocted glowing comments from a fake film reviewer to use in print marketing, which it also did with other films including Hollow Man, The Animal, and Vertical Limit.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
In an interview with Vulture to discuss the film’s 20th anniversary, Helgeland revealed that the original plan for the dance scene was to utilize KC and the Sunshine’s Band “Get Down Tonight” and the cast had even begun rehearsing choreography for the sequence. However, during this rehearsal, Ledger approached the director with a pitch for Bowie’s “Golden Years,” even noting it keeps the same tempo as the disco funk track and was better in tune with the journey of his character. Read Helgeland’s comments below:
“When Heath wanted to sell you on something, you could tell in a second. He would assume this kind of boyishness to him; he’d become nine years old, like out of a Dickens story, like the Artful Dodger. Heath got this big grin on his face. He goes, ‘It’s the same tempo. It’s going to work.’ He said, ‘Don’t come to rehearsal today. Let us get it right and then come down. We’ll do both of them and you decide.’ He was like, ‘It’s so inescapable that it should be ‘Golden Years’ that there’s no way you can disagree with me.’ He just laid it all out like a legal case.”
Ledger’s pitch for a musical change extended to more than A Knight’s Tale, with the late star also having put the idea out to have his character in 10 Things I Hate About You sing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” instead of “I Touch Myself.” The late Oscar winner frequently showed his creative potential in every genre he worked in, but his aptitude as a music video director several years later was clearly predicted by how well he utilized songs in his films. While some might still argue about whether the anachronistic use of music in the film was a great or terrible choice, there’s no denying Bowie’s “Golden Years” was an excellent choice for the dance sequence.
20 years later and A Knight’s Tale still proves to be one of the more intriguing historical fiction efforts put to film. From the real jousting shot in the film to deliberate anachronisms and a fast-paced four-month shoot, it may not have received the best reviews from real critics but it remains a fan favorite from Ledger’s filmography. It can also be credited with helping Resident Alien‘s Alan Tudyk and WandaVision‘s Paul Bettany break out into the mainstream world.
More: 20 Crazy Behind-The-Scenes Details About A Knight’s Tale
Dave Bautista Is Ready To Be The World Champion Of Directors
About The Author