James Frain Interviews and Articles

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James Frain TV Guide Interview

The Tudors: Playing Dirty, Renaissance Style
by Anna Dimond

10 April 2009

<a class="external" href="http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/tudors/285400" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">The Tudors</a> has returned to Showtime (Sundays, 9 pm/ET) for a third season of lust, intrigue, murder and more. As the royals arrive, Henry VIII (<a class="external" href="http://www.tvguide.com/celebrities/jonathan-rhys-meyers/158629" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jonathan Rhys Meyers</a>) makes Jane Seymour (<a class="external" href="http://www.tvguide.com/celebrities/annabelle-wallis/295147" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Annabelle Wallis</a>) his new queen, and a surprise rebellion undermines the King's efforts to sever ties to Catholicism. Thomas Cromwell (played by U.K. native <a class="external" href="http://www.tvguide.com/celebrities/james-frain/155400" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">James Frain</a>), meanwhile — Henry's closest adviser and the architect of the Reformation — is on the hot seat, and things only get worse when he brokers a new marriage for the King that goes terribly wrong. In a chat that was part history lesson and part Season 3 preview, TVGuide.com got the scoop from Frain on what it was like playing a man who incurs Henry's wrath, working with Tudors newbie <a class="external" href="http://www.tvguide.com/celebrities/joss-stone/196652" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Joss Stone</a> and how it feels to wear all that heavy royal garb... in the middle of summer.

TVGuide.com: Cromwell has a lot on his shoulders in Season 3. Where are we picking up?
James Frain:
From Cromwell's point of view, the season begins with him at the height of his power. And it ends with him right at the bottom. It's kind of similar to the trajectory of Anne Boleyn's story in the last season, where she starts out as queen, and then ends up being beheaded. It's about as dramatic a fall from grace as you can imagine, to be at the apex of power, and then to be totally excluded. It all revolves around the events to do with this burning rebellion, and then the unfortunate death of Jane Seymour.

TVGuide.com: As the season unfolds, how will Cromwell's dynamic change with Henry and the others in the royal court?
Well, Henry is really mad at him, that this rebellion had happened. And when they started seizing the wealth of the monasteries — which, to Cromwell, was taking back land that he believed was owned by a colonial power ... it was devastating. I don't think even Cromwell knew how unpopular these reforms were, and how dangerous the situation was going to become.

TVGuide.com: Cromwell was the architect of the Reformation, but what's your view of him as a man? Do you have empathy for him?
Well, after three years, you start to become really attached to someone. [W]hat I can see in Cromwell is someone who deeply believed in what he was doing. So I became sympathetic to his story, and I didn't really want him to be just the bad guy. And whether that's been successful or not, I don't think we're really going to know until the end of Season 3, because [creator] Michael [Hirst] brings in other elements of the character quite late in the story.

TVGuide.com: So we'll see another side to him?
We see his son; we see more of his human side. We discover more about what motivated him. And then we watch him fall from power. So it'll be interesting to see if the audience's perspective on that character changes.

TVGuide.com: The tautness of your scenes with Henry in his inner sanctum is striking. Will we get beneath the surface of Cromwell's stoic exterior? Is he going to unravel, just a little bit?
Absolutely. It really impacted me when we were shooting the earlier seasons, just how dangerous Cromwell's position was. And how much of the time he was effectively an enemy of the state, yet working within the state, and how carefully he had to play his hand. But basically, does he lose his grip? Yeah, he does. He'll lose his s--t.

TVGuide.com: But in the meantime, he brings in Anne of Cleves, a new wife for Henry.
Yeah, [played by] Joss Stone. You might not like her, but her music's great! [Laughs] She's fantastic in this actually. She surprised everyone.

TVGuide.com: What was it like working with her?
She was a real joy. She's a very, very sweet, decent person. And she came in with enthusiasm. And excitement. And she was nervous, obviously, because it was a new challenge. But she's a very good soul. I didn't have that much to do with her, but our stories kind of intertwine, because I'm trying to hook up this marriage.

TVGuide.com: Along with The Tudors, you have a movie coming out...
Everybody's Fine, with Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore. [Mine] is a small role, Kate Beckinsale's boyfriend. It's a story with a lot of characters, because it follows De Niro's trip across America as he tries to reconcile with his family.

TVGuide.com: And you also have a guest role coming up on
<a class="external" href="http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/plain-sight/293658" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">In Plain Sight</a>. What will that entail?
It's one of these stories where you think the character's one guy, and then you realize he pretends to be someone else. There's lots of deception and lies. You don't know if he's a good guy, or a bad guy. You have to watch the show to find out. I don't want to ruin the story. I've already ruined The Tudors. I've got to keep one in the bag!

<a class="external" href="http://www.tvguide.com/News/Tudors-Preview-Playing-1004986.aspx" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="The Tudors: Playing Dirty, Renaissance Style">The Tudors: Playing Dirty, Renaissance Style</a>

Things get heady for 'The Tudors' James Frain
by Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smi
April 28 2009

IT'S ALL IN THE EXECUTION: "The Tudors'" James Frain, who portrays the infamous Thomas Cromwell, tells us that in the season currently unspooling, "I've got a lot more storytelling to do. Cromwell starts out as this really powerful guy and then ends up being humiliated." In real life, Cromwell lost face, then his head. Observes Frain: "It's kind of similar to the story that Anne Boleyn had last season but without the sex."

He notes, "As a whole, they've achieved what they were going for in terms of the show definitely being darker. There's more at stake for the characters. There's also more power intrigue going on. It just gets better as the season goes on."

Frain feels the same way about Jonathan Rhys Meyers. "With each season he seems to become more powerful and more confident in his role as king. He's done a really good job of creating that aura of fear and respect," says Frain of the actor in the role of Henry VIII. "These people thought that the king was close to God. He was supposed to be ordained by God," he points out. "Part of the reforms that Cromwell was pushing through were making Henry legally the head of the church, and answerable to no one. You've seen the human costs of that as far as what it does to someone to think of himself that way, and what it does to the people around him. We know in our own time that he's just a human being, but they didn't really have that understanding. I think Jonathan's performance gives a sense of the all inspiring, terrifying power that he had, but also what that did to him, and how it made him more and more isolated."

<a class="external" href="http://www.bendweekly.com/news/17772.html" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Things get heady for 'The Tudors' James Frain ">Things get heady for 'The Tudors' James Frain</a>


Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith
May 6, 2009

James Frain, who stars alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers in "The Tudors," believes the show may be about historical figures from the 1500s, but it's a lot more relatable to modern day people than some would assume. Then of course when you add the cable TV twists, it becomes a lot spicier on screen than in our history books.

"What they're doing with this show is shaking up history a bit and adding this pop angle to it in a way that we can relate to these people being like us. They're finding the connections between their world and our world," notes Frain, who portrays the controversial Thomas Cromwell. "We were looking for parallels as a way of recreating the feeling of the court rather than portray the exact look of it. Sometimes if you try and do it completely accurately to the actual look and the flavor of the history, it distances you because there are lots of things about our world that are very different."

One thing that won't keep audiences away is the hunky Meyers, who certainly knows how to heat things up as the powerful, promiscuous king. "Henry VII was the rock star of his time. That's part of what Johnny's performance is all about -- creating what an equivalent character would be like today," says Frain. "These people are driven by the same things we are driven by. Like we are sexual, they were driven by passion and were confused about ideas of the world and religion and how the world should be run, what they are prepared to die for and kill for. It just goes to show human nature hasn't changed that much."

<a class="external" href="http://www.nationalledger.com/artman/publish/article_272625936.shtml" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="The National Ledger">The National Ledger</a>

by Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith

"The Tudors" star James Frain says although he loves stepping in the shoes of King Henry VIII's advisor, Thomas Cromwell, on the Showtime series, he's excited about getting the opportunity to work on a project his kids can enjoy. "I'm about to go off to shoot this Disney movie 'Tron.' It's lots of effects and cool stuff like that, so I'm looking forward to that. The only thing is, I'm not allowed to really talk about it. They're all so super secretive now," he notes. "I also have a De Niro movie coming out, though I was only on it for a few days," he says of the movie "Everybody's Fine." "That was like working with the king. That's the real king.

<a class="external" href="http://www.creators.com/lifestylefeatures/hollywood-exclusive/brad-garrett-fingers-crossed-for-series-charity-tourney-who-da-thunk-neil-boyd-cites-simon-cowell-as.html" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Something Old, Something New">Something Old, Something New</a>

Does hair make the man?

Multi-dimensional British acting talent James Frain has something to say on the matter…
By Jemima Hunt - In Style Magazine November 2001

The strange thing about James Frain is that though in person he reeks of charisma – all big green eyes, wolfish smile and tangles of curls – his gift as an actor is to disappear. In over 20 films, he has crossed centuries and continents with his characters and costumes – from swaggering around in a black leather coat as a Seventies Irish gangster in Nothing Personal, to donning ruffs and pantaloons in Elizabeth, modelling prison stripes as the baddie in Reindeer Games, and going the Napoleonic knee socks way in The Count of Monte Cristo, which opens early next year. But the character closest to the 32-year- old's psyche is… the loss adjuster he played in the BBC's recent production of the William Boyd book Armadillo. "I wore a chalk- striped Hackett suit, a pink shirt and red polka-dot tie to meet a bunch of bankers. Then a sheepskin jacket to meet a bunch of builders. What the loss adjuster does is become like the people he's with. Rather like an actor." Rather like Frain, who off set likes nothing more than to sling on his favourite sheepskin coat, jeans, denim jacket and Red Wing boots and grab a bite at his local Notting Hill café. "When I start looking really bad, I know it's time to get another movie," he grins. "Because when I'm not working, no-one's in charge of my grooming."

IS: Do you ever brush your hair?
JF: No. The hairstylist for this shoot asked me how we were going to "control the bounce". I told her we couldn't.

IS: How important are costumes in becoming a character?
JF: It depends. In Nothing Personal, the costume designer managed to find some old pairs of Seventies underwear. Sky-blue nylon Y-fronts with a white detail. You don't necessarily have to wear underwear from the period to steep yourself in a character. It was a kind gesture though.

IS: What have been your favourite costumes you've worn on film?
JF: I loved the Thirties jazz look I had in Vigo. I wore a pinstripe suit, tank tops and a beret. And some of the sharp Sixties suits I wore in Hilary and Jackie, when I played the conductor, Daniel Barenboim, were beautiful. It was a shame that they were rented.

IS: Do you keep your outfits?
JF: I take as much as I can. I still wear the black leather coat that was made for me for Nothing Personal. I wore two beautiful Paul Smith suits in Armadillo, but couldn't have either, so I kept a load of T- shirts. I would have liked the brown contact lenses I wore in Elizabeth. Oh and the ruff would have been useful…

IS: Have you always enjoyed dressing up?
JF: Definitely. When I was six I was given a Red Indian outfit which I loved wearing. I also had a policeman's uniform. I was rather like a one-man Village People.

IS: What's your favourite decade in terms of style?
JF: The American Seventies. It's a look actor Samuel L Jackson has now and the funky musicians had at that time. I also love punk, which again was a Seventies thing. Johnny Rotten in his Seditionaries T- shirt and beret was a hero when I was a teenager. I suppose it's the figures who are around when you're a teenager who influence your style and how it remains. Does this mean kids in 15 years' time are going to be dressing like Eminem? Probably.

IS: Do you ever wear suits?
JF: Not often. Although sometimes a man's just got to wear a suit. When I get the urge, I usually wear a pinstripe suit I own from Jigsaw. It has a Seventies look.

IS: What do you wear to parties?
JF: A couple of years ago I was in Los Angeles shooting a movie for Miramax. It was around the time of the Oscars and I found myself invited to the Miramax Oscar party. I didn't have a suit, so a friend talked me into buying a beige one from Gucci. I arrived at the party and everyone else was in black tie. No-one could have missed me that night. I was the guy in the light suit. It was a lovely suit – just the wrong occasion.

IS: If money was no object, which designer would you wear?
JF: Vivienne Westwood. I love everything she does. To me, she epitomises what is cool about British style: which is to say, make it up yourself. It's the punk thing again – the mixing of styles that means you can wear tailored suits with ripped-up T-shirts.

IS: How have the girlfriends you've had influenced your style?
JF: By stealing my shirts. You can always tell when a girlfriend is going to split up with you because suddenly all your favourite clothes start disappearing and you have to hide everything.

IS: Who has been your favourite leading lady?
JF: The question should be which leading lady hasn't been a pleasure. I got to kiss Charlize Theron in Reindeer Games. Obiously, we had to do a large number of takes to get it right. And in Where the Heart Is I did a sex scene with Natalie Portman – her first one. She was nervous, but it's always rehearsed and there are about 50 people on set.

IS: Are you naked when you shoot sex scenes?
JF: Sometimes. Otherwise you wear attractive flesh-coloured underwear. Meanwhile, the make-up woman powders your back and you've got indigestion and are trying not to burp. Sexy, eh?

IS: How would you sum up your style?
JF: That's a difficult question to answer. Style is about what you feel comfortable in. I like mixing new stuff with vintage. I go to the flea markets in New York and LA and Portobello Market here in London. I don't feel comfortable in clothes that are all new. Although whenever I go shopping with my sister, who's a stylist, she always tries to get me to be smarter. She says I'm too scruffy.

IS: Do you like clothes?
JF: I love them. I can talk clothes for hours with my sister. I can't talk about football. I don't know anything about football. Does that mean I'm not a real man?

(Sorry that this is an oldy and you may have all read it before, but its just adorable...makes me love James even more when I read his answers. A bit of a cheering up addition for the Crommies - Dani)