There's a lot of mud in The King.
It's everywhere — on the ground, caked onto the actors' faces and all over the horses so that their once-white coats became a blur of khaki and brown, reports News.com.au.
The mud was pivotal to the famed Battle of Agincourt, recreated vividly and with great accomplishment in David Michod's (Animal Kingdom) latest movie, The King, a Netflix epic inspired by both the real-life Henry V and Shakespeare's play.
The beautifully shot film stars Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet as the young wayward Prince Hal who takes the throne upon his father's death, learning to deal with court machinations and Rumsfeldian hawks urging him to war with France.
Historically, the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 is one of the most decisive English battles in the Hundred Years War, so it's rightly The King's signature set-piece. It's suspenseful and adds an incredible sense of scale to the movie.
The King's director, Australian David Michod, told news.com.au the impressive, muddy sequence took two weeks to shoot, though "in an ideal world, we would've had five".
"It was something about the chaos of doing it in two weeks that you can feel on the screen," he said while promoting the movie in Sydney this week with leading man Chalamet and co-writer and star Joel Edgerton.
The mud, of course, was a challenge, one that required many, many meetings in the lead-up to shooting, but was ultimately simply created on the day with a water hose on the ground and the horses going over the top of it for fewer than 10 minutes.
But it wasn't easy on the actors.
Chalamet said: "The non-navigability of the mud made it very difficult and adds to a tonality of chaos in the sequences but it felt properly dangerous and unstable."
One of those dangerous moments happened to Edgerton, whose character Falstaff was caught in the middle of a large scrum of armoured men getting bogged down in the substance.
On screen, in the finished film, it looked absolutely nuts. It seemed on the day, on that field in Hungary where it was filmed, that's how it felt too.
"There was actually a moment when I thought I was in a lot of trouble," Edgerton said. "I was really scared about not being able to get out of the mud and I was sat on by this guy, and there was a horse right near me and I was terrified the horse was going to fall on me.
"And then the very next take, someone trod right next to my face and caked me in this mud like someone had shoved a pie in my face. There is (footage) of one scene that's shot from above and you can hear me calling out for help and my voice is so panicked but it's being drowned out in the mess."
Michod said that scene with Edgerton was scary to shoot because "anything can go wrong in those situations".
Asked if he had a safe word to indicate that he was in real strife and not just really committed to the scene, Edgerton laughed and explained that there were so many different nationalities among the extras in the scene that meant there was no way everyone could've understood him.
But, even for all the peril, he still loved the experience.
"There's a photo (of me with on that mud on my face) and I have this big smile on my face. I think it was the one moment that reminded me of how happy I would've been at the age of 10 to know I was in the situation."
Chalamet too felt compelled to bring up how his kid-self would've made of the whole thing.
"The period training on this kind of role is what you dream about when you're 12-years-old and you want to be an actor.
"There's a lot of sword training and fight training, and trying to get good on the horse too. And trying to get good on the horse while holding a sword."
One of the most breathtaking scenes in The King is a shot of Chalamet's Henry charging into battle, on his feet, and taking down several men in a complicated choreographed action scene, made all the more difficult because Michod held the shot for a long time.
"That was one of the tougher shots to get," Chalamet said. "I think it was four takes. I can remember three definitively because I remember the variations."
Michod said: "The shot is so complicated because the nature of a battle like this, it happened in a state of chaos.
"The thing that's so hard about shooting these battle sequences is that every single shot felt impossible. But you just keep chiselling away at it and when you leave the location you hope all the pieces you need drop in the can."