This article is presented by Paramount Pictures.
Regé-Jean Page’s paladin Xenk is an earnest member of the core heroes who make up Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Best known for his role as the romantic lead in the first season of Bridgerton, Page is no stranger to working in fantasy, having voiced Orpheus in the podcast series of The Sandman. He took a moment to speak with Den of Geek about the virtues of wearing a cape—but wouldn’t spill any secrets about Xenk’s sword.
Den of Geek: You play Xenk, a paladin who is a bit of a stick in the mud. What can you tell us about your character?
Regé-Jean Page: I don’t think he’d describe himself as a stick in the mud. I think his extended action sequences would also beg to differ. He’s not necessarily no fun. He’s just very effective and lawful good—often mistaken for lawful boring. The joy of every character in this movie is realizing their own absurdity very slowly whilst also holding on to their heart. That’s the tightrope that I think we’ve walked very well. The movie is really fun and funny but it has so much heart.
You said “lawful boring,” which means you are very familiar with how much grief paladins get at Dungeons and Dragons tables.
Jealousy is a natural human emotion!
Are you a gamer? Did you play paladins before?
I’m far more D&D adjacent. I grew up playing a lot of JRPGs—Chrono Trigger, Breath of Fire, Final Fantasy, etc. I spent far too many hours of my teenage years playing Diablo, in which I usually played paladins. A lot of this is essentially Dungeons & Dragons, just with mechanized dice and math. Clearly, I was drawn to this. I’m nerdy enough to have watched a bunch of D&D. I used to watch Penny Arcade’s stream, and Acquisitions Incorporated.
With the rise of Critical Role and other actual play streams, watching D&D is now a cool thing.
It’s the coolest thing.
You mentioned your fight choreography—what kind of training did you do?
Infinite training. I did a lot of straight-up conditioning because you have to be in much better shape than you think to get through hours and hours of stunt choreography, particularly in a full suit of armor and a cape. We broke the first law of Edna Mode—I am absolutely wearing a cape, and it’s fabulous. It doesn’t make the fighting easier, but it does make it fancier. That is the rule of cool and the rule of paladins.
To answer your question: loads and loads of training. Lots and lots of time spent learning stances and various sequences and techniques. I spent hours in the stunt tent with the stunt team. I had a fantastic stunt double who worked as my mentor, who walked me through all kinds of things that got me into the shape I needed to be in, and made me feel bad because he was in such incredible shape. There’s always a healthy competition with your stunt team, because the ideal position for me to be in is for him to be very unhappy, on the sidelines, not doing the stunt, because I’m doing the stunt. And so you love each other, but you want to keep each other unhappy in that way.
Can you talk a bit about the special effects?
The joy of this movie is that most of the time, [we were] acting with something, because we had a very, very sophisticated practical effects department. There were loads of real-life mechanized creatures, and animatronics, and puppetry in a very, modern 21st century way. I never acted with a tennis ball; there were Dragonborn, there were tabaxi, there were all kinds of crazy creatures in the world.
Half the time, you’ll see a pile of barrels in the back of the shot, and there’ll be a guy behind there with an incredibly sophisticated remote control who’s controlling the creature that you’re having a conversation with, to the most minor facial and muscle twitches. It was incredible to see a foot in front of my face, nevermind what you’ll see on screen. It’s a gift for an actor; it makes life not only easier, but just that bit more magical—which, isn’t that what Dungeons & Dragons is all about?
What’s your favorite part of your costume?
I mean, if you get to wear a cape, capes are pretty special. The sword occupies that gray area between wardrobe and props, but it’s very much a part of the look. Xenk would say it’s very much part of him.
If you were surrounded by goblins, which character from the film would you most want to have your back?
If I feel that I’m in any kind of danger, it’s a fairly easy pick for Holga because Holga— Michelle Rodriguez’s character—has the most incredible fight sequences and is just unstoppable. For entertainment value, if nothing else, being able to have the privilege of sitting back and watching Holga dispatch with goblins, I could think of nothing better.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves opens in theaters on March 31.