Star of "Wind That Shakes The Barley" making his mark in new History Channel drama based on the downfall of the Knights Templar.
Padraic Delaney, 40, made a name for himself in his first ever film role opposite Cillian Murphy in the Palm D'Or winner The Wind That Shakes The Barley, the 2006 civil war movie directed by Ken Loach that is nowadays hailed as a masterpiece.
But he hasn't been idle, appearing opposite Jeremy Irons in The Man Who Knew Infinity, on TV's The Tudors and even on Broadway in The Cripple Of Inishmaan.
This month he's appearing in the hit History Channel series Knightfall as Gawain, the greatest swordsman of the Knights Templar Order in 1306.
Based on the most mysterious real-life Christian organization of the medieval world, the show opens as they are finally winding down their long run as defenders of the faith. It's this moment they hear a rumor that the Holy Grail is in France, close enough to their own diminished order to make one last attempt to rescue it plausible.
In other words it's the kind of high adventure swords and swashbuckle epic that aligns it with other mammoth TV hits like Game Of Thrones and Vikings.
The premise of Knightfall is simplicity itself, Delaney tells the Voice. “We're leading up to the downfall of the Knights Templar, which happened on Friday 13 of October 1307, when King Philip of France (who was unnerved by their power and jealous of their wealth) rounded them all up and burned them at the stake,” thus giving rise to the the unlucky 13 tradition some say.
“Our story starts in 1296, when we lose our grasp on the Holy Land but also on the Holy Grail. So our story merges both history and legend in a way guaranteed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.”
Knightfall then jumps forward in time to Paris, where Gawain's group of Templars are stationed and most of the story is set. “They are pining to get back to the Holy Land and rescue the Grail,” he explains. “But that's when they get word it's closer to home than they ever dared imagine.”
Delaney is signed up to star in five seasons of the show if it captures the kind of audience figures that History Channel is searching for, and word is that it's already consistently pulling them. Deadline Hollywood has already listed it among the top cable drama launches of 2017.
“It's a thrill a minute show, there are dramatic denouements at the end of every episode, there's a huge prize they're in search of and lots of people get killed off along the way, it has an old fashioned rip roaring feel.”
A lot of the most interesting writing is now happening on television. More ambitious scripts are attracting top tier movie talent and the Irish are well represented at every level.
“Absolutely, instead of telling a story over two hours, you can tell it over six or ten one hour long episodes. It's because of an explosion of different viewing platforms like Netflix and HBO and Amazon and even Sony has just launched a new one. There's so much space out there now for these TV shows to live and breath now. It's a great thing, with the same production values that you'll find in films. It's why big movie stars are migrating toward the medium as they never have before.”
For Irish fans, Delaney is probably still best known and celebrated for his unforgettable portrait of an Irishman at war with his own brother in the aftermath of war of Independence in The Wind That Shakes The Barley. It was the role of a lifetime and Delaney knows it.
“I still look back on that very fondly and I still think its my best bit of work, if I may flatter myself like that. It was special for me because it was actually my first film. I remember the craic we had on the set down in west Cork and getting to work with Cillian and Ken. To this date when I see it I think it really hits the nail on the head. It explains Ireland to people who might not know its history.”
Knightfall broadcasts on the History Channel on Wednesdays at 10:00 PM.