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The Green Knight's Ralph Ineson Reveals What He Really Thinks Of The Titular Character - Exclusive

Fans may have noticed a trend in filmmaking in which villains you've heard stories about before are given title roles and suddenly painted as, if not secretly heroic, at least misunderstood. "Maleficent," "Cruella," and "Joker" are all a part of this modern trend. "The Green Knight" is not part of that trend — but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to explore with the title villain anyway! Yes, "The Green Knight" is about the quest Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) goes on in order to face against the titular villain. Yes, the set-up for their meeting would seem to be that the Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) is going to chop Gawain's head off. And, yes, Gawain does have a very cool fox familiar who at one point refers to the Green Knight as being completely without mercy.

Among the questions we have about "The Green Knight" — is the Green Knight really a bad guy, or is he just misunderstood? Sure, Treebeard from "The Lord of the Rings" seems boring, but then he and his fellow Ents wind up being very cool and saving the day. Groot saves his friends in "The Guardians of the Galaxy" but then becomes a total jerk when he reincarnates as a teenager later.

In short, tree folk have dimensions, and that includes the Green Knight. Looper sat down with Ralph Ineson to talk about how he sees his character and — spoiler alert — he's a bit of a Green Knight defender!

The relationship between Gawain and the Green Knight

The Green Knight didn't used to be a tree fella. In the original poem "Sir Gawain" and the Green Knight" he's actually a bewitched version of the Lord Joel Edgerton plays in the film. So, right away, the version writer/director David Lowery crafts is unique — and that includes the relationship between the Green Knight and Gawain. "No, I don't see [him] as merciless at all," Ineson told Looper. "I think he will absolutely make someone fulfill their bond if they have played the game, so he's merciless in that sense. But I think there's a lot of soul and humanity about him in a way. I think the fox is wrong."

Not only does Ineson bring an element of almost empathy to his performance as the Green Knight, but he also sees an almost familiar relationship between he and Gawain. "I always felt that there was something almost paternal about the relationship, especially at the end of the movie, between Gawain and the Green Knight," Ineson said. "There's a certain parental pride, disappointment and then pride in that final scene between the two, especially as he's kind of summoned by Gawain's mother. I think, again, all of these things are clashing with a lot of intellectual study of the original poem, but I think that's the beauty of David Lowery's version is that you can take all sorts of stuff out of it. He doesn't hold your hand. He doesn't explain it to you."

Ineson's interpretation of his character is especially interesting since we never see Gawain's actual father in the film. "The Green Knight" is in theaters now.