Dev Patel can get it. It is known. What we have just learned, however, is that Dev Patel can get it in every era. This knowledge comes to us from the trailer for The Green Knight, a medieval fantasy epic by David Lowery, the director of A Ghost Story and Pete’s Dragon. The Green Knight is based on the Arthurian myth of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which tells the story of Gawain the Good, King Arthur’s most loyal, chivalrous, courtly knight. In every medium from tapestry to musical, Gawain is depicted as young, handsome, strong, noble. If Lancelot is the star of the R-rated erotic thriller, Gawain is the Arthurian answer to Noah Centineo, a dreamy rom-com star from the sword-and-sorcerer era. And David Lowery and casting director Louise Kiely, who must possess some arcane wisdom passed down from the ancients, have chosen Dev Patel to play Sir Gawain, revealing that Dev Patel is hot in every era, no matter what clothes you put him in or what kind of facial hair he does or does not have. Modern-day romantic hero? Authentically hot. Victorian social climber? Authentically hot. Medieval knight? Authentically hot. Dev Patel does not have “modern face”. Dev Patel has “hot regardless” face.
As for The Green Knight itself, it looks like a total trip. This does not seem like an attempt to tell a period-correct version of the story, this might be a flat-out fantasy, which is what Arthurian myth is. It’s haunting and a little creepy, the Green Knight himself looks like the Night King but made from trees instead of ice. I am super into all of it. I am also into Gawain palling around with a fox—if David the Gnome taught me anything, it’s that the best heroes are all friends with foxes. If you’re not familiar with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, this is going to look like a bunch of unrelated nonsense, but it’s a story about deception, magic, and the test of courtly love, all of which is in the trailer.
It’s also feudal nostalgic garbage meant to prop up a flagging but nonetheless oppressive social order recently devastated by the plague, with Gawain representing the dutiful servant who knows his place and serves his lord gladly. Arthurian legends are super misogynistic—no woman in Western literature has been more wronged by time and masculine retelling than Guinevere—and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is no different on that score, with a bonus side of obedience to the king. David Lowery never approaches a subject head on, and I am very interested to see if his take on Sir Gawain embraces any or all of the pro-feudalism subtext in the story. As his Green Knight is literally made of trees, it looks like Lowery has latched onto the subtext relating to the natural world, that the Green Knight is a symbol of spring, and stands in the story as a promise of life after the Black Death ravaged England. But will he have any comment on the intrinsic misogyny of courtly love and Arthurian legend? Or the violence inherent in the feudal system?
I hope this movie is spectacular, because I love David Lowery’s work, but I also just want to stare at Dev Patel’s face for hours and hours and marvel at how goddamn good he looks in any era, in any context. We should also give thanks to the goddess Gwenhwyfar for forgiving us for butchering her legacy as Guinevere and bestowing upon us Dev Patel at the exact right moment in time when he can get all these roles and play any character, in any time. Would it be too much to ask that he also play James Bond? He’s already got “Victorian drawing room comedy”, “medieval/fantasy epic”, and “boundary-pushing TV show” on his card. If he gets Bond, he’ll have a British movie star bingo.