Iain De Caestecker on playing King Arthur in The Winter King and his favourite jewellery

Actor Iain De Caestecker discusses his new King Arthur series, The Winter King, and why he can’t hold on to his jewels as he models Louis Vuitton's new Les Gastons Vuitton fine jewellery collection for men

Words by Jessica Bumpus; photography by Tomo Brejc; creative direction by Tim Holloway; styling by Farrah O’Connor; all clothing Louis Vuitton

“My main jewellery quote,” shares the Scottish actor Iain De Caestecker, “is just that I like jewellery but I’m afraid of it.”

His admission is based mostly on having a tendency to lose it, he confesses. And a case in point from the star of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.The Control Room and Ryan Gosling’s Lost River is the couple of little transparent baggies he holds up. They read “Iain’s personal ring” across them and inside is jewellery of his that someone kindly found on set, retrieved and efficiently labelled up for him.

Lucky for De Caestecker, though, who has been playing the leading role in ITV’s seasonal period drama The Winter King, his character King Arthur only really has to worry about a sword on the accessories front.

Iain De Caestecker wears Louis Vuitton white gold Les Gastons Vuitton fine jewellery tag, set with diamonds and white gold Les Gastons Vuitton fine jewellery signet ring, set with diamonds

Adapted from The Warlord Chronicles book trilogy by Bernard Cornwell, the master of historical fiction and author behind the best-selling Sharpe and The Last Kingdom series, the story follows Arthur Pendragon as he attempts to pull the kingdom of Dumnonia back from the brink of annihilation.

“Arthur and his men, they are sort of the SAS warriors of their time, and they’re built for battle and they’re ready at all times,” he says, pointing out their cropped haircuts and sleek appearance. The only real hint of jewellery his Arthur gets to wear is a chain around the neck, which De Caestecker says will feature a key from time to time.

We’re talking over Zoom midway through December and outside a tearful dark sky feels appropriately bleak and brutal just as – one imagines – it might have been in the late fifth century, where De Caestecker figuratively spent six months filming the series. Back in 2023, he was just caught in the rain on his bike.

Iain De Caestecker wears Louis Vuitton titanium and yellow gold Les Gastons Vuitton fine jewellery ring (small) and steel Tambour watch

“Everyone’s kind of familiar with that legend aren’t they? These characters,” he says. Though when it came to them, he never thought of himself as being an Arthur. “I don’t think I’m sort of the archetypal casting bracket for that part,” he says.

But part of this series was, he explains, about a “new revisionist telling of this story” and “there is a lot of this story we kind of subvert, a lot of the normal tropes,” adding “all the pieces are there but they’re just done in a new way that hasn’t been seen before.” On the first day, he found himself on a cliff edge and bareback horse riding, a “baptism of fire,” he describes, but one he loved. “The great part about what I do being an actor is that you get to explore different avenues and different skills and worlds that perhaps you maybe wouldn’t have taken the initiative to do otherwise.”

Iain De Caestecker wears Louis Vuitton white gold Les Gastons Vuitton fine jewellery signet ring, set with diamonds and yellow gold and steel Tambour watch

Including, a day in the life of warring Britain, some 1500 years ago. “It is brutal,” he says. “The stakes are so much higher, decisions are really life and death.” But there are overlaps, “themes that were universal”, with modern day, which he says the series was keen to explore in order to “humanise” the characters. “Like family and friends and love and also hate and death and grief and trauma.”

Read the full cover story in our spring 2024 issue, available here.

Executive producer Tammi Le Breton; production Malcolm Mafara; production assistant Georgie Lawn; styling (jewellery) Joshua Hendren; photography assistant Jem Rigby; grooming Paul Donovan

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