Excalibur, the sword of swords, has always been a character as important to the Arthurian legend as Merlin and Lancelot, so it’s no wonder that the weapon has a prime spot on Entertainment Weekly’s latest cover alongside Charlie Hunnam.
Earlier this month, we traveled to the London set of King Arthur to get the early scoop on the updated legend and the sword that will play a large role in the adventure. Here’s everything we learned about the brand new Excalibur.
The decorative gem on the sword’s pommel is a favorite of Hunnam’s. “It took me back to my childhood,” he says. “I would spend my time whittling a big log into a sword. I was always taking glue and putting marbles on top.”
The sword’s handle area was the most difficult aspect to design, according to Tim Wildgoose, one of the film’s armorers, because director Ritchie wanted to avoid the bejeweled look of previous iterations. As a result, Excalibur was the first piece Wildgoose started and the last one he finished.
King Arthur enthusiasts won’t be able to read the letters embedded in the blade, but they know the message. “Take me up, cast me away” is the inscription often found on Excalibur, but King Arthur uses a written language created specifically for the film.
Ritchie wanted a sword that was impressive without being ornate, and he found inspiration in an unexpected place. This Excalibur’s patterned blade is made from Damascus steel, the same sharp, resilient metal used in one of his sets of kitchen knives.
To continue reading the cover story on King Arthur, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday.