Petr Jákl’s passion project Medieval, about Czech national hero and Hussite leader Jan Žižka, has been gaining a lot of traction in recent weeks ahead of the scheduled start of production in Prague later this month.
The film, which will reportedly be the most expensive Czech movie ever made (though my numbers put Juraj Jakubisko’s Bathory a shade higher), will be shot in English, and it was announced last week that Ben Foster had been cast as Žižka in the leading role.
Now, the production has added another major international star: two-time Oscar-winner Michael Caine, who was announced to be joining the cast in a featured role on Thursday.
“I did not believe until the last moment that Michael Caine is really starring in the film and in one of the crucial roles,” Medieval producer & director Jákl told local media.
“But when he called me over the weekend and told me how much he would enjoy shooting with us, I slowly began to believe that it was reality. Michael Caine is a complete legend for me and I could not imagine in my wildest dreams that I will ever have the privilege of directing a film in which he which he stars.”
In Medieval, Caine will reportedly star as Lord Boreš, a (seemingly) fictional “trusted advisor to King Wenceslaus IV.” The death of Wenceslas in 1419, four years after Jan Hus was burned at the stake, plunged Bohemia into crisis and sparked the ensuing Hussite Wars, during which Žižka commanded rebellious forces.
Wenceslas IV reportedly died of shock after hearing about the First Defenestration of Prague, when city officials were tossed from New Town Hall; no word if Caine’s character will be among those headed out the window.
Medieval will be co-produced by British financier Cassian Elwes (brother of Cary), who has scored Oscar nominations in recent years for his films like Mudbound and Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
“It’s been a dream of mine to make film with Michael Caine since I first started working in the business,” said Elwes. “Now this dream has come true and I couldn’t be more excited. He’s a living legend.”
Of course, despite Caine’s impeccable pedigree, his casting doesn’t necessarily ensure a film’s success. The actor famously missed out on receiving his Oscar for Hannah and Her Sisters at the 1987 Academy Awards due to production on Jaws 4: The Revenge.
“I’ve never seen it,” Caine later said of the shark movie sequel. “But I’ve seen the house it bought for my mum. It’s fantastic!”
Caine can next be seen in James Marsh’s King of Thieves, a senior citizen heist movie that sounds awfully similar to one of his recent films, last year’s Going in Style.
The 85-year-old actor is expected to be headed to Prague in the coming weeks as filming on Medieval kicks off later this month.
Lead image: Caine as Alfred Pennyworth in 2008’s The Dark Knight