Small Roles Big Performances – James Purefoy + James Marsden

For this blogathon, somehow both Becky and I settled on the actor with the first name James… and both playing a Prince! It’s pure coincidence by the way, but it works out great that they’re two very different actors, one Brit and one American, but both are not only easy on the eye but very talented yet massively underrated.

Visit the main blogathon post to see the full list of participants by clicking the banner above.

James Purefoy – A Knight’s Tale  (2001) 

Genre: adventure comic fantasy romance
Character(s): Sir Thomas Colville / Edward, the Black Prince of Wales

Every time I think of A Knight’s Tale (2001), I giggle, pinch myself, then remind myself (again) that my two favorite actors, Rufus Sewell and James Purefoy, (who both happen to be English, and who both happen to have attended the same drama school in London) are actually TOGETHER in the same film. So dreams really CAN come true! Rufus has a prominent role as antagonist Count Adhemar, whereas James appears only briefly in three short, but significant scenes.
The story (from Wikipedia): 
The film follows the story of William Thatcher (Heath Ledger), a peasant masquerading as a knight, along with his companions in the world of medieval jousting. William poses as a knight and competes in tournaments, winning accolades and acquiring friendships with such historical figures as Edward, the Black Prince of Wales and Geoffrey Chaucer. The story, concisely, in just 12 words (from an IMDb review): It’s like Top Gun, but with horses and lances instead of jets.
First scene (from Wikipedia):
In this joust, William faces Sir Thomas Colville, who withdraws from the tournament after being injured by William, though they exchange a ceremonial pass so that Colville might retain the honor of never having failed to complete a match.
Second scene: 
In their next tournament together, William realizes the knight calling himself Sir Thomas Colville is actually Edward, Prince of Wales, also known (affectionately) as the Black Prince. The film implies there is a custom encouraging knights to withdraw from competition against royalty in order to cause no harm. Count Adhemar quickly withdraws as he receives confirmation that Colville is really the prince. You can see the immediate disappointment in Edward’s face as he realizes he may not be jousting this day. William is expected to withdraw also. But he has come lance to lance with Edward before and senses his eagerness to engage and doesn’t withdraw, which earns him great respect from Edward. Their match is a draw. Before leaving the field, they both recognize each other from their first meeting, and William acknowledges him as prince. Edward: “You knew me? And still you rode?” William: “It’s not in me to withdraw.”  Edward: “Nor me.”
Interestingly, Prince Edward is not a fictional character. He lived from 1330 to 1376. He was an exceptional military leader, and his victories over the French at the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers made him very popular during his lifetime. He died before his father, Edward III, which makes him the only English Prince of Wales never to be King of England. His throne passed instead to his son Richard II.
Third scene (towards the end of the film):
William is arrested for forging papers claiming he was a knight. Prince Edward seeks him out. Here, James is regal, assertive and authoritative, yet deeply compassionate. He orders William to be released from the stocks. The prince draws his sword, touches it to William’s shoulders, and thereby bestows knighthood upon him. He is now Sir William. This leaves him totally free to pursue his goal: winning the jousting championship against Count Adhemar and earning the hand of his desired Jocelyn. It is in this last scene where the noble Prince Edward (and James’ superb acting skills) shines:

I LOVE the costume designer who cloaked James in that subtly embroidered, fur-lined, full length earth-colored coat over a white, deep V-collar shirt that shows off just the right amount of… ummm, well, I think you know what I mean 😉 … I could easily get carried away here (smile). It surely helps that James is tall, dark, and alarmingly handsome.
James has had leading roles in film, but a vast amount of his work has been in television, both here in the US and the UK. His exceptional, standout role was playing Marc Antony in the HBO series Rome (2005-2007, appearing in all 22 episodes). Beginning January 2013 (in the US), he is co-staring with Kevin Bacon in the new Fox criminal thriller TV series The Following.
Spending so much time with James while writing this has left me almost breathless, and … well, you know, yes, never mind, again. But hey, I’m just taking one for the team… team FlixChatter, that is.
So, have you seen A Knight’s Tale? If so, did James’ performance stand out for you too? Let us know!

James Marsden – Enchanted (2007)

Genre: fairy tale romantic comedy
Character: Prince Edward
I don’t exactly know when I first beheld James Marsden, but I’ve always liked the guy. Not only is he drop-dead gorgeous with to-die-for cheekbones, the Oklahoma native can sing! You might’ve seen an episode where he sang You’re Always On My Mind on Ally McBeal,  and of course in the musical Hairspray. I always notice him in various supporting roles he did in The Notebook, Superman Returns and X-Men. On Superman Returns, I found myself rooting for his character, Richard White, as the nice guy who has to deal with his fiancee’s ex coming back into her life. He could’ve easily been written as a jerk but I’m glad they didn’t and Marsden sympathetic portrayal makes him a memorable character in that movie.
He’s obviously quite a versatile actor who can jump from genre to genre, doing an animated feature like Hop to dark thrillers like the Straw Dog remake in the same year! The youthful-looking 29-year-old also has wonderful comic chops that makes him perfect to play Prince Edward in Enchanted! I thought he was well, enchanting as the fish-out-of-water character from fairytale land stranded in modern day New York City. The second he popped out of the manhole complete in his royal attire, I knew he’d be the scene stealer of the whole movie! Lethargic Patrick Dempsey can’t hold a candle to Marsden’s vibrant and amusing performance, he’s just delightfully oblivious!
I love the scene in the hotel room where he mistakes the TV for being the magic mirror, ahah, and of course the whole singing thing in Dempsey’s apartment. Every time the daft prince shows up, the movie just hits a high note for me. I mean, just the scene of him walking with Giselle on the Brooklyn bridge with the Liberty statue hat is a hoot. I really don’t remember much about Dempsey’s character in this movie, but I definitely remember Prince Edward!
Here’s a clip of all Prince Edward scenes from the movie. Enjoy!

Small Roles … Big Performances Blogathon

Thoughts on Purefoy or Marsden’s performances? Well let’s hear it!

37 thoughts on “Small Roles Big Performances – James Purefoy + James Marsden

  1. ooh, what a truly delightful post, I knew Prairie Girl wrote it as soon as I saw the title 😛
    I adore both actors. PureJoy 🙂 was amazing in ROME, and let us not forget he had full nude scenes in that show. He was also great in many other project. I’ve recently seen him in THE HOLLOW CROWN BBC’s series part one.
    Marsden is simply a destiny’s gift to the world. Would love to see him in lead roles more often.

    1. Thank you Dezzy! Ahah yes we both know of Purefoy’s role in ROME and his um, awesome physique 😉 PureJoy!! I LOVE that nickname, and how appropriate!

      Glad to hear you love Marsden too, I’d love to see him in more leading roles too, but hopefully not in something as dark as Straw Dogs.

    1. Thanks Julian! Purefoy is like Dezzy said, pure joy to watch in the brief scene in A Knight’s Tale. I wish he had gotten more leading roles. Same w/ Marsden!

  2. PrairieGirl

    Dezzy, so glad to hear from you! And maybe others need to be reminded, but I ALWAYS know how magnificent JP looked in his birthday suit in Rome ;-D
    You’re right, I’d love to see more of both James’.

  3. PrairieGirl

    Flixy, I just noticed that not only were they both playing princes, they both had the same name: Prince Edward. LOVED Marsden in Enchanted, now I need to see more of work.

    1. That is amazing! And I didn’t even plan on it, just works that way! Thanks for the post, Becky. LOVE PureJoy in this one, I’m gonna keep calling him that from now on!

    1. Glad to hear Mark! Both of them are such underrated actors, I could easily highlight Marsden in The Notebook AND Superman Returns as well.

  4. Thank you for giving me a James Purefoy fix! Grew obsessed with him after Rome (he definitely made an impression let’s say) and totally had to go back and rewatch a Knight’s Tale with him, sad I didn’t recognize him the first time I saw it! As much as I love Knight’s Tale, Purefoy definitely makes it that extra bit of awesome. He’s great in Vanity Fair too, the only highlight of that film in my opinion.

    1. Oh my, how could I forget him in Vanity Fair!! He’s memorable in everything, even in his tiny role in Mansfield Park. Man, why couldn’t he play Edmund instead?? But yeah, his role in ROME was well… muy caliente [fan self] 😉

      1. HE WAS IN MANSFIELD PARK! I caught a couple seconds of it yesterday and said “Is that James Purefoy” and he was gone so I never confirmed! Yeah I’m sorry but Jonny Lee Miller didn’t do it for me in that film at all. Sad that Purefoy doesn’t get leading man roles although he was really good in John Carter (one reason to see that).

  5. Can you believe I haven’t seen enchanted? but I can see your James could stand up to Demsey.

    As for Purefoy, I like him too. Everyone in that movie are delighful to see.

    Great choices, girls 🙂

    1. PrairieGirl

      Hi Kirsten, thanks for throwing a bunch of love on JP. He shines in larger, but lesser known roles too, such as The Mayor of Casterbridge, Beau Brummell: This Charming Man and Injustice. Rome and “obsessed” certainly go together ;-D

    2. PrairieGirl

      Hi Novroz, you are right, A Knight’s Tale has an abundance of excellent actors, and James just makes it the icing on the cake ;-D

  6. I overlook both of these great performances myself. Paul Bettany stands out more for me in A Knight’s Tale, but Purefoy gives a much more subtle performance. Marsden, meanwhile, gets passed over for Amy Adams. Still, they’re both wonderful in Enchanted.

    Great picks. 😀

    1. PrairieGirl

      Hey Josh, PB had a more substantial role in AKT, in more ways than one, especially since the first time you see him he is totally buck naked! In contrast, JPs first two scenes are in full armor on horseback with barely a peek at his face. But finally, in this last scene when he releases William, we get to appreciate him for a fine performance.

  7. I’ve never seen Enchanted but Marsden looks great in it. It also has two of my favorite redheads Amy Adams and Susan Sarandon. I will check it out.

    Wow of all the actors in A Knights Tale (Ledger, Tudyk, Bettany, Sossoman) Purefoy didn’t leave an impression on me. I even don’t remember him John Carter which I saw last week. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Mansfield Park and of course my eyes were glued to the lovely Aussie Frances O’Connor at the time. I will keep my eye out for James when I watch it again.

    1. PrairieGirl

      Hey Dave, I’m sure the first time I saw AKT I never noticed James either until his last scene, but that made me curious to go back to find him in others. And you are correct, if you blink during John Carter, you may miss him completely. But believe me, If you ever watch the HBO series Rome (especially the second season), I doubt you will miss him in anything again ‘-D

  8. James Purefoy was brilliant in A Knight’s Tale. Totally one of my guilty pleasure sort of films, but I’m not guilty about really enjoying it!

    Though for me, with A Knight’s Tale, my small role big performance award would go to Alan Tudyk. Awful accent, but he’s never not funny!

    1. Ha..ha.. yeah, no need to feel guilty about loving AKT and Purefoy in it. I do remember Alan Tudyk too, boy there are a lot of awesome actors in that movie!

    2. PrairieGril

      Hi Jaina, AKT has one of the best casts ever and is one of my top guilty pleasures too. Yes, I bet the accent might have been a challenge for AT, being born and raised in Texas, after all ;D

  9. Nice picks! I watched A Knight’s Tale many years ago and, to be honest, I don’t remember James Purefoy. In fact, I have trouble placing him in any film. I only know that he was cast as ‘V’ in V for Vendetta but he was kicked off the project.

    James Marsden in Enchanted, on the other hand, was AMAZING. I considered featuring him in my blogathon post. He’s a fantastic, vastly underrated actor, and his voice is so smooth. I really hope he gets the Sinatra role in the biopic, as it’s been rumored. He’d be perfect for it.

    1. Hi Fernando, well I hope you remember him better now. Yeah, bummer he didn’t get cast in V but then again, you couldn’t see his face anyway 🙂

      Glad to hear you love Marsden. He’s fantastic indeed. I originally wanted to feature him in 3 movies, Enchanted, The Notebook and Superman Returns as he was very memorable for me in all 3. Oh my, I’d LOVE to see him play Sinatra, though obviously he’s much better looking!

    2. PrairieGril

      Hi Fernando, like I mentioned, James seems to always have had smaller supporting roles in feature films, so he perfectly fits the bill for “Small Roles… Big Performances.” He has been a leading man many times in TV, in the UK more than in the US. He was even considered as Bond at one time, which in MHO he would have been superb for. He’s certainly a leading man in my book.

  10. I haven’t seen A Knight’s Tale, but I feel like I’ve seen James Purefoy somewhere before. Or does he happen to have a doppelganger who’s also an actor?
    As for James Marsden, I’ve always had a soft spot for the guy. He’s just so darn likeable, regardless of the roles. He was a prick in Gossip (the one with Kate Hudson), and yet I still found myself somewhat rooting/feeling sorry for him. Rumor has it, there’s going to be Enchanted 2. What do you think about that? 🙂

    1. Hi Wulan, well he’s done a lot of supporting roles. He was in Vanity Fair, John Carter, etc. but if you’ve watched HBO’s ROME, he plays Marc Antony, can’t imagine a girl not noticing him there though 😉

      Marsden is awesome isn’t he? He’s sooo gorgeous yet not a pretty boy, I do wish he got more leading roles. I don’t know about Enchanted 2, if he’s in it, then I’ll watch it 🙂

  11. PrairieGril

    Oh wow, Flixy, I see the new collage you put up for JP… I just may award it a coveted place in my “man corner.” (But if I put it up there, will I get any work done… ever… at all? swoon… )

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