How Paul Bettany’s bare bottom created a jousting star

Paul Bettany’s bare bottom isn’t my favourite thing about A Knight’s Tale, but it’s certainly a highlight. 

Blue sky and black and white cow close-up

Be yourself and you’ll stand out from your competitors.

That film is a very entertaining mini-masterclass in marketing – plus it’s full of Heath Ledger, Alan Tudyk, and Mark Addy, all of whom are brilliant.

The story, in a nutshell, is this: peasant always wanted to be a knight and go jousting and whatnot in tournaments, but to become a knight, you have to be of noble birth. His master, Sir Hector, dies while doing a poo behind a tree – so William takes his place. In his armour, you can’t tell who he is.

Then he becomes Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein and starts winning tournaments.

But the real genius behind Sir Ulrich’s brand – because make no mistake, that’s what it is – is Paul Bettany’s Geoffrey Chaucer. He’s a writer and general scoundrel with a gambling problem… who becomes William’s (Heath Ledger) herald.

Now, a herald’s job was, in effect, a salesman. He was like those crazy wrestling announcers, the ones who whip the crowd up into a screaming frenzy for a particular performer. Same with the herald.

Only Geoff Chaucer did something different.

He didn’t just announce a boring stream of lineage like the rest of them; oh no.

He went utterly over the top, telling far-fetched romantic tales of what Sir Ulrich had got up to overseas, of the maidens he’d rescued, and the spiritual journeys and adventures he’d undertaken. He was himself times 10, because that’s who this character was: larger than life, and a great storyteller.

Chaucer sold William to the crowds and he became famous. People turned up just to see him. He had fans. Raving, loyal fans.

And the funny thing? His arch-rival’s herald spotted what Chaucer was doing and attempted to copy him.

But he was just a pale imitation of Geoff.

That’s what happens, you see. If you are great at what you do, if you’re utterly yourself, and you give it your all, you will stand out from the crowds. And then you’ll find people will copy you.

That’s not a bad thing for you, by the way; it’s flattering. But it is bad for the copycats, because they’re not being themselves.

Took me a while to figure that one out, because being yourself is a scary proposition. After all, if you put yourself out there naked, people might see you! (Metaphorically naked, not actually naked.)

Go forth and be naked. And if it seems a little scary to be naked on your own, come and join my merry band of Business For Superheroes readers and we’ll all be naked together. (Again, metaphorically speaking, not actually naked. That would be weird.)



Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS The other reason I love A Knight’s Tale is the fusion of medieval tales and modern music and culture. Plus it’s funny as.


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