We've learned something very important this year. We love to see our Queen, Barbara Crampton totally unleashed. From bloodletting in Jakob's Wife to a very Karen-esque turn in Creepshow and now as Ruth, a berating mother in King Knight. As a fan of Richard Bates Jr.’s work (Excision, Suburban Gothic) and his particular brand of black comedy, Crampton was excited to be a part of this project and the commitment to the darkly comedic tone in this horror adjacent story of self-discovery. Crampton says she would like to do more comedy, "Maybe people don't know I'm funny!" she jokes. We certainly know! Maybe people don’t realize she’s interested in it or that she has a knack for it. But she is and she does! More dark comedy for Crampton, please!
There are some harsh moments in King Knight where she really gets to unleash it all and aggressively berate her son, Thorn (Matthew Gray Gubler). While her nurturing style as a mother in real life may be the direct antithesis of Ruth’s parenting style, she says she is always drawing from real-life experiences to bring life to her characters. It’s a necessity, “Otherwise, you’re playing a caricature.” On the flip side of that is a theme often cited by Crampton at the root of her work; empathy. While Thorn’s mother may be overbearing and harsh at times, there are private moments, a peek behind the curtain if you will, that give a glimpse into the why. That’s the meat of these moments, the intriguing part for Crampton, "You get to understand more about [Thorn] and his journey through understanding his relationship with his Mom." Breaking down not just what is, but the why at the heart of it all, allowing for an empathetic approach, "You also get to understand why Ruth is the way she is, and where she comes from and what her history is." That’s not just an actor’s lesson for character development, but a life lesson for humanity in our day-to-day.
What this story is really about, is Thorn’s journey of self-discovery, that peek behind the curtain that allows us to see what makes these characters tick. It’s the heart of the story that drew Crampton to the project and also what makes it more than a pagan parody. Yes, it’s silly and fun but Crampton and the rest of the cast bring to life comedically flawed characters with a lot of heart.
King Knight is available in select theaters and on-demand and digital February 17, 2022.
Check out the trailer below: