Chris Pine entered Toronto’s Roy Thomson Theater wearing a brown double-breasted jacket, a movie-star tan, and a twinkle in his eye. At first glance, this might have been because his Robert the Bruce biopic Outlaw King was the opening-night selection for the Toronto Film Festival, thus making him, for the time being, Hollywood’s No. 1 Chris. But after seeing the film, I can think of another explanation — he knew what was coming.
Outlaw King is the kind of movie you’d get if you tasked the world’s biggest Game of Thrones fan with remaking Braveheart . (I counted at least three Thrones actors in the cast.) Pine plays 14th-century Scottish lord Robert the Bruce, who, in this telling, won back the nation’s independence by sneaking around, murdering all the English people he could find, and then burning his own castles. It’s a big, crowd-pleasing movie filled with big crowd-pleasing moments — many of them supplied by Aaron Taylor-Johnson as a particularly bloodthirsty sidekick, and the appropriately named Billy Howle as the future Edward II. (As Dunkirk and On Chesil Beach proved, you are nobody in this business until Billy Howle screams at you.)
Pine doesn’t quite match either of those actors for intensity, but he was twice able to bring the house down in his own inimitable way. The first time comes roughly a third of the way through the movie, when, on the eve of battle, Robert decides it’s finally time to bed his English bride (Florence Pugh). The sex scene that ensues can only be described as Wiseauean, both in the way the camera lovingly lingers on the male lead’s backside, and in its willingness to go on for a beat longer than is comfortable. It’s kicked off by a split-second shot where Robert disrobes, unveiling the full majesty of his medieval bush. It’s a level of nudity you don’t often see from male movie stars, and quite frankly, it makes Justin Theroux look like Buffalo Bill.
The crowd gasped, of course, but little did they know that this was just the appetizer. Later, after the campaign for independence has faltered, and he’s just come back from his lowest point, Robert begins to regroup with a new strategy. This rebirth is symbolized by a cleansing swim in a picturesque firth, after which our hero strips off his tunic and — surprise! — exposes his royal todger to the world. We only see it in a long shot, and the moment ends before anyone watching can finish saying “Whoa,” but still, it’s a bold move — particularly in a movie that’s heading straight to Netflix. Horny GIF-makers of the world will have their hands full with this one.
When actors talk about nudity, they often say they’ll only agree to it if it serves the story, or reveals something about the character. I get the sense that was not the case here. The male nudity in Outlaw King is completely gratuitous, which actually fits the movie’s aesthetic perfectly, since it’s exactly as gratuitous as the film’s graphic stabbings, hangings, and disembowelings. For one night in Toronto, the pipes were calling, loudly and proudly calling. Talk about Scotland the Brave.