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Tudors in the Media 2008
Articles, Reviews & Cast Interviews etc.
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|Date: November 10th, 2008|
Title: Showtime Picks Up a New Series Entitled 'Camelot'
Showtime and BBC's partnership works on a new upcoming series project, "Camelot", a contemporary retelling of the history of Camelot.
Production team that will work for the series including Michael Hirst and Morgan O'Sullivan, "The Tudors" creators. Hirst who also has several credits on "Elizabeth" movie (1998) and the sequel "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (2007) will be responsible as the series' executive producer and the scripts' writer along with O'Sullivan and Douglas Rae.
"Camelot" is planned to be produced by Ecosse Films and Octagon Filmes, while Showtime and BBC cooperate to co-finance the development of the series' scripts project. The casts, airdates, and other details about "Camelot" are to be determined further.
Meanwhile, Showtime has recently finished producing the third season of "The Tudors" which will be premiered in April 2009.
(see also : The Tudors Creators Page)
|Date: August 5th, 2008 |
Title: Joss Stone playing homely wife in "the Tudors"
Author: Nellie Andreeva
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In her first major acting role, British soul singer Joss Stone will play Henry VIII's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, in Showtime's drama "The Tudors."
The gig will likely be a brief one, as Anne was married to Henry (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) for about six months.
A daughter of a German nobleman, Anne was betrothed to Henry in a marriage treaty between the Cleves Court and the king's chancellor after Henry was shown a portrait of her.
Upon Anne's arrival in England, Henry was disappointed in her looks and soon found a legal way to have the marriage annulled.
According to Showtime, the upcoming season of the racy royal drama will follow the king as he weds Jane Seymour (Anita Briem) and then Anne of Cleves.
Stone, who burst onto the music scene in 2003 and has had three gold albums in the U.S., has been looking to cross over into acting. In 2006, she had a role in the fantasy feature "Eragon." She is working on a new album.
| Date: June 29th, 2008|
Source: Sunday Tribune (Ireland) www.tribune.ie
Title: Les Mis singer Colm hits right note for Tudors
Author: Ken Sweeney
He's the Irish star of Phantom of The Opera and Les Misérables who lent his voice to some of the biggest musicals on Broadway and the West End.
But Colm Wilkinson is about to cross swords with Jonathan Rhys Meyers when he appears in the next hit TV3 series, The Tudors.
The Sunday Tribune has learned that Wicklow-born Wilkinson (64) will don bodice and corset to play Lord Thomas Darcy in the latest instalment of the show which is currently in production at Ardmore Studios in Bray, Co Wicklow.
The Tudors' Executive Producer Morgan O'Sullivan said "Colm will play Lord Darcy, who was a friend of the King's father. He's a well-liked and well-regarded character in the royal household of King Henry VIII."
However, this all ends when Wilkinson's Lord Darcy becomes part of a Catholic plot to unseat the King, played by Rhys Meyers – a struggle which is a major plot theme in The Tudors' third series.
Wilkinson's long association with fellow Bray man Morgan O'Sullivan, as well as his Canadian citizenship, helped him land the role in the Emmy-winning TV series, which is now showing in 84 countries.
Morgan O'Sullivan said "I was able to get Colm involved because it's an Irish Canadian co-production. I told the head of CBC in Canada that I knew just the Canadian for the part. Of course I meant Colm."
| Date: July 19th, 2008 |
Title: How long will "the Tudors" last? Shotwtime President discusses long term plans.
Author: Howard Goldman
This afternoon at the Television Critics Association press tour, Showtime's President of Entertainment Robert Greenblatt was asked how long The Tudors might last for. Said Greenblatt, "I think there's another two years in it."
Henry VIII had six wives and the first two seasons used those marriages as season-long story arcs, with each season focused on one wife each – Catherine of Aragon in Season 1 and Anne Boleyn in Season 2. However, Greenblatt noted that the one wife per season rule will change and that, "The next season is Anne of Cleves and Jane Seymour," and that it's likely Season 4, "will be the final two wives," with the series probably coming to an end there.
Date: July 6th, 2008
Source: Sunday Tribune - Ireland
Title: Braying about the sucess of "The Tudors"
Actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers says the secret of his hit TV show The Tudors' global success is sex.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Tribune on the set of the show's third season in Ardmore Studios Bray, the Cork man said sexual chemistry was a necessary ingredient to any successful film or TV show and The Tudors is no exception. "You have to reel them in, and sex certainly helps," he said. "A bit of Tuesday-night naughtiness, I call it. The success of any TV show or movie has a huge sexual element to it. Why are movie actors and actresses famous?
"Well they're not famous because they're pug ugly, are they? They're famous because they are good looking, interesting people most of the time and you get to have your little fantasies about it."
However, Rhys Meyers said press coverage which centred on the show's sexual element, particularly in Ireland, had been blown out of proportion.
"We always said we're The West Wing set in the 16th century, but everybody in Ireland was like 'there's loads of sex in The Tudors. To me, that's Ireland still reeling from its Catholic upbringing, to be honest with you, but I imagine season two will be even more popular on TV3 because we have a lot of different characters and they just happen to be even better-looking."
He went on to explain why sex was so important to his character King Henry VIII. "In season one, you were looking at a very young, vibrant, almost post-adolescent, young-man king. Like any young man, sex is a vital part of his life, but also in this period of time, you needed to get some heirs. Your children were not only a tool for yourself to become richer, they were also your legacy."
He warms to his theme. "Listen, six marriages do not a happy man make. He was a politician, and they never have the f***ing frown off their faces. This is the man who was absolute boss. There is no Dáil. There is no minister for f***ing finance or minister for f***ing health. It's all him."
Playing such a despotic monarch did not come easy. "I think every role presents its challenges. I put the same amount of intensity into most things, but it's kind of difficult because you're looking at regality, which is something you either have or you don't. You have to try and get it into your headspace that you are very much born with it, even though I am not, obviously.
"That involves you thinking you are the king the whole time and the certain air of entitlement the king has.
But do I take the part home? "No. Jesus. No. I wouldn't get away with it."
Cast in the role following his Golden Globe-winning performance playing Elvis on US TV, Rhys Meyers (30) said he was actually too old to play Henry VIII, and not too young, as some people suggested.
"When I did Henry, people were like 'well he's too young.' Actually, I was too old. Henry should have been 12 to begin with. He was married by 13 and had his first child at 14. What we have basically done is pull everything back by about seven years from my age point of view. Henry would be about 40 by the third season of The Tudors, but I'm playing him at 30 or 31."
He doesn't intend to go on playing Henry VIII forever. "At some point, the plausibility will become doubtful. For instance, in later years, he has an injury which results in him putting on weight, so by the time he marries his fifth wife Katherine Howard, it's pretty much beauty and the beast. I don't know how I could put on 200 pounds to match his appearance at that point."
He remains committed to Ardmore Studios where the series made for US company Showtime and broadcast in 84 countries around the world is filmed. "Ireland needs Ardmore Studios. It's essential to Irish films because so many great filmmakers have made films here. I know that people like Mel Gibson, Anthony Sher and Peter O'Toole would be very sad to see it close. For me, it's very comfortable coming back to Ardmore and working with the same crew and production team."
At the helm of the $40m production, which employs 300 people, is executive producer and local Bray man Morgan O'Sullivan. "It's really important to have somebody in the background who takes care of everything, who knows the business," Rhys Meyers said. "Without Morgan, The Tudors would have been impossible."
However, O'Sullivan (62) himself said the cornerstone of the period drama was writer Michael Hirst, whose screen credits include 1998 Oscar- winning film Elizabeth.
"It's Michael's vision we're trying to make happen," he says. "But along with Michael, you have Irish directors like Brian Kirk, Ciaran Donnelly and Dearbhla Walsh, and a huge team, including Tom Conroy our set designer, and Joan Bergin our Emmy-winning costume designer.
Part financed by Section 481, which provides tax relief for Irish film and television, The Tudors is also providing a boost to the local economy in Wicklow.
"We have a press day coming up where journalists fly in from around the world, and while they're here, we'll organise a location visit where we'll take them to all the local places featured in The Tudors, like Kilruddery and Powerscourt," O'Sullivan said. "Everybody shares in The Tudors' success."
| Date: August 1st, 2008|
Title: Why the Tudors is historical bunk
Author: leading Tudor historian, John Guy
Fasten your seat-belts, it’s The Tudors again. Inevitably the second series of BBC2’s take on the story of Henry VIII and his wives begins, in tonight’s opener, by reminding us who everyone is – handy since so many of the key characters look very alike. Henry’s pout makes him easiest to spot, even if he never had one. Thomas More is inseparable from his gold collar of state, despite refusing to wear it in real life except when sitting for his portrait. Katherine of Aragon, the Wronged Wife, is solemn and suffering, the Pope dresses in scarlet, and the clergy look, well, like clergy.
Chronology, throughout, is swept aside. This week’s happenings, supposedly from a single year, are an amalgam of four years’ events. Thus Parliament confirms Henry’s title of Supreme Head of the English Church even before he decides to break with the Pope, Thomas More stays on as Lord Chancellor until long after he’s actually resigned, and Brandon marries his fourth bride – her real name is Catherine Willoughby, and she was 14 not 17 – before his wife, Henry’s sister, Mary, is dead. Quite why the Pope has to be the wrong one is a mystery, unless it’s because this one, Paul III, will excommunicate Henry later. It scarcely matters, because Peter O’Toole gives such a juicy performance as a devious pontiff that it’s churlish to quibble. Where dialogue is concerned, characters juxtapose language that diligent researchers have trawled out of genuine Tudor documents with current slang. Thomas More comforts Katherine by telling her that she is the “Queen of Hearts”; and, in an ironic twist, the Other Woman, Anne, complains that “You can’t have three people in a marriage!” Now where have we heard that before?
Still, The Tudors conveys brilliantly the claustrophobic atmosphere of Henry’s court: it’s a place where back-watching is second-nature, plotting endemic. The most visceral scene – the execution by boiling alive of Richard Roose, Bishop Fisher’s cook, here bribed to poison the outspoken bishop – did indeed happen, more or less in the way it’s gruesomely portrayed, even though Roose wasn’t in the pay of the Boleyns and different, less important people were poisoned. And if the characters tend to be one-dimensional, Henry did become a monster, dominating his court, Stalin-like. While he would never have demeaned himself by beating up a messenger, as he does in a final scene, his rages could be terrifyingly unpredictable. Katherine’s courage, her human dignity as she fights to save her marriage and her daughter’s claim to the throne, is movingly and authentically shown. Anne and Thomas Cromwell, here depicted as an artful Machiavellian, could both be shocked by Henry’s sheer vindictiveness. These are deft dramatic touches, and a valid point of view. If you value true and accurate history, this isn’t for you. But then, it isn’t meant to be. It’s a rumbustious romp through the life and times of “Horrible Henry and the Terrible Tudors”, a fiction loosely based on fact, and when the facts get in the way, they’re ditched. If you can accept that, then watch and enjoy, for that’s what the real-life characters would have done. Thomas More, who always loved a comic turn, will be spinning in his grave if he’s watching this new series. But at least he’ll be smiling.
| Date: June 4th, 2008 |
Source: L.A. Times
Title: Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Creating a king
Author: Denise Martin
Jonathan Rhys Meyers gives King Henry VIII chiseled good looks and an intensity to boot.
BY NOW, it's hard not to think of Henry VIII as the smoldering monarch.
As played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Showtime's "The Tudors," young Henry may as well be a rock star. This king's got chiseled cheekbones, a protruding pout, piercing blue eyes and a vigorous sex life -- Henry and second wife Anne Boleyn claw lustfully at each other's backs in bed until blood is drawn.
The extra libido worked. Showtime recently renewed the series for a third season, and the 30-year-old Rhys Meyers, who does double-duty as a movie star -- most recently in the period drama "The Children of Huang Shi" -- spoke by phone from the garden of his London home about growing Henry, Hollywood's award season and all those tiresome bosoms.
You're probably sick of hearing about how you don't look like Henry VIII. How did series creator Michael Hirst and Showtime initially sell you on the role?
At first, of course, like anyone else, I laughed. I thought they wanted me to put on 200 pounds and grow a beard. And then I got the explanation about a sort of modern-day Henry. As an actor, I carry a certain amount of intensity, and they knew that when they cast me. They looked for it. They didn't want someone who was wishy-washy. They didn't want someone who was going to be charmingly lovable. At the end of last season, Michael said to me, "I think you've done it." And I said, "Done what?" "I think you've created a king that I would not want to [mess] with."
Does that intensity stay with you off-set?
It's difficult for it not to. You work 12 hours a day, and you know you've got to get right back in it the next. I'm sure if you asked any of the athletes in the NBA playoffs about their work ethic, they'd say the same thing: It's always game time. I play soccer twice a week to unwind a bit. I go home and turn on any mindless drivel that can take my mind off Henry, but I never want to separate from him too much because I don't want to have to go and rediscover where he was.
When I'm done shooting a season, that's different. Then I don't want to see another doublet [the men's snug buttoned jacket, then all the rage in Western Europe], or a knee-high boot or a horse for awhile. Not even a pair of breasts. [Laughs.] I know when you're watching it on TV it looks fabulous but when you're living in a world of ample bosoms for that long . . . .
"The Tudors" was initially announced as a two-season project. Were you game to do more television work?
Well, you can't really call "The Tudors" TV, can you? The medium's moved on to such an extent that I think "TV" for most people means a mix of reality TV and talent contests. Then you have "The Tudors" and "Dexter" and HBO, and they're really like films. So no, I wasn't concerned about doing more of this versus films.
Now that Anne is without her head, where is "The Tudors" headed? Can the third season be as compelling without Henry and Anne's obsessive romance at the center?
From here on, the story is all about Henry and his descent into a sort of isolation, paranoia as well as extreme pain as a result of the accident he suffered in the joust last season. Things start off great for him with his marriage to Jane Seymour. She was an amazing wife, a Stepford wife, but she doesn't last long after their son is born. After that, Henry becomes very closeted, and the next wives were all disasters. Katherine Howard was a nymphomaniac. There's plenty of good story to tell.
You won a Golden Globe for playing another king, Elvis Presley, in 2005. How do you handle award season?
I don't know. I really like being nominated for awards, I have to admit. I really, really enjoy it. Whether or not I win, I could not give a fudge. Being nominated I think is what's important.
Has winning changed your career?
I've been in the film industry for 15 years, and I've probably put out around 40 films and TV series. At this point, I'm pretty seasoned at what I do, at knowing how to work and exist within a film set. But I don't hang out with producers and agents. I don't share the corporate business vibe that they do, so winning I suspect helped as far as the roles I'm offered. At the end of the day, my job is to give the directors as many flavors as possible. I'm only a color within this huge tapestry. It's a learning process for me. I'm 30, and I'm still only learning.
| Date: June 2008|
Source: E Online
Title: The Tudors: Scoop on What's Next
Author: Jennifer Goodwin
The Tudors is over again. (Didn't it just start up?) Sniff. After last night's heart-wrenching (not to mention neck-slicing) season-two finale, I had more than a few burning questions for executive producer and writer Michael Hirst, who kindly picked up the phone at his home in Oxford, England, to oblige.
It Ain't Easy Being Queen: I don't know you about you, but I was bowled over by Natalie Dormer's Anne Boleyn in her final days. (And I bawled when she finally took her place on the executioner's platform.) Anne seemed quite aware of her impending fate (although no one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition English Reformation), and as her last-ditch efforts to survive failed, one by one, she handled the crisis with the utmost grace and dignity.
Hirst says that was entirely intentional. "Natalie was upset and stunned during the first series when a few—particularly American—journalists said she's just a bit of fluff. [They thought she was] just manipulative, cold and heartless, and said, 'We want to see the end of this bitch.' Natalie said that her reading of Anne was that she was a very intelligent woman who had a very profound effect on the future of England—not only giving birth to Elizabeth, but in person. And I said, 'I totally agree.' Natalie said, 'I just want to prove them wrong—can you throw everything at me?' So in the second series I very, very consciously threw everything at her, and she responded incredibly. That last episode, I think, if you had any lingering feelings against her, they're completely washed away by the manner of her death, and you feel extraordinary sympathy with her, and her courage is fantastic. It was a great performance."
Everything Old Is New Again: The Anne of The Tudors is very consciously modeled after another controversial royal of our own era. Says Hirst, "I think that [Anne]'s a conduit; she allows women to understand now that [queen] is a bad job. Katherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy)—that was a wonderful performance, too—was born to rule, so that's a different deal. Anne had to learn on the job...There are parallels, too, between Anne Boleyn and Diana, Princess of Wales. There are deliberate connections, in fact. Diana had said, 'There can't be three people in a marriage,' and Anne Boleyn uses the same words."
Neeext! Now that poor Anne is out of the way, it's time to introduce Jane Seymour (Anita Briem), who was Henry VIII's third wife and the mother of his only sons to survive infancy. In history, she doesn't last too long, but on the show she will be around at least the midpoint of season three. And when she goes—dying from puerperal fever (a systemic infection subsequent to childbirth)—shortly after the birth of Edward VI, we ladies will make the proper genuflections to Alexander Fleming, he who discovered antibiotics.
The Crazy Keeps Comin': Henry's going to get worse before he gets better. Well, actually, he won't get any better. Says Hirst, "He did believe in the divine right of kings, and he did have absolute power, and like everyone else who gained absolute power, it turned him mad. By the end of his reign, he's a psychopath—nobody is safe in his court. It was much better to be dead than to be around Henry...And the tragedy was he set off so idealistically and optimistically. He was a great guy when he was young, and he let it all go, and it was a tragedy for the country." Raise your hand if you're feeling pretty good right now about being a lowly peasant.
Thinking Dynastically: Hirst thinks the story of Henry proper could be told in five seasons, but he's willing to plumb all branches of the family tree for stories. Says Hirst, "What I would like to do is go back to Henry VII, Henry VIII's father, and show how the dynasty was set up, because that's interesting, and then I'd kind of like to jump forward to his son Edward VI, with Seymour, as Lord Protector—and then Queen Mary, who tried to reintroduce Catholicism. Mary married the king of Spain, and then thought she was pregnant, but it was a tumor. And she nearly killed her own sister Elizabeth. That's an amazing period."
'The Tudors' moves on to wives 3 & 402:20 PM PT, Apr 22 2008
Showtime announced today that it is picking up a third season of "The Tudors," which will begin production in Dublin in mid-June. Season 3, which will debut in 2009, will trace King Henry VIII's marriages to Jane Seymour (Anita Briem, above) and Anne of Cleves. Star Jonathan Rhys Meyers is set to return. The lavish drama is midway through its second season, which centers on Henry's ill-fated marriage to Anne Boleyn, played by Natalie Dormer.
| Date: May 29th, 2008 |
Source: Boston Herald
Title: ‘Tudors’ rules: Showtime on a roll with killer season finale
Author: Mark A. Perigard
The blade slips on a sublime season of “The Tudors.”Even the most casual student of history dreads the fate awaiting Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer) in the superb second season finale of the Showtime costume drama (Sunday night at 9).
Now imprisoned in the Tower of London, she is convicted of trumped-up charges and sentenced to die.
“I am content,” she says upon learning the scheduled date for her execution.
But as the final hour of “The Tudors” details, what follows is a series of dark comic events that delays the execution and threatens her resolve.
Teenager Mary can’t wait for her stepmother’s head to roll. “Is the harlot dead?” she demands.Elsewhere, a young Elizabeth learns painful lessons about the vicissitudes of life as a royal. In the wake of her mother’s conviction, she is declared a bastard and her life of luxury ends.
Adding insult to royal humiliation: Henry takes funds out of her estate to pay for her mother’s imprisonment.
“The world is a slippery place, my lady,” one attendant tells another as a young Elizabeth watches, a little pitcher taking it all in.
Henry (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), meanwhile, seems besotted in equal measure with Jane Seymour (Anita Briem), whom he believes will give him a male heir, and the swans nuzzling outside his castle. Both infatuations foreshadow portentous changes in his realm.
The Seymours recognize that their fortunes rest on Jane’s future, but they are no Boleyns.Speaking of which, master manipulator Thomas Boleyn (Nick Dunning) is surprised by his own change of fortune. Dunning has been utterly convincing as a loathsome father who views his children as tools to further his social standing and wealth. His final encounter with Anne is wrenching.
Dormer has truly grown as an actress this season. As Anne, she glides between calm, fear and desperation. She reveals Anne as a tragic figure, a pawn in a game she never had a chance at mastering. Dormer’s departure from “The Tudors” leaves a void. (The network has renewed the series for a third season to explore Henry’s third and fourth marriages.)
As this season of “The Tudors” has proven, Showtime has eclipsed HBO as the home of premium dramas.
| Date: May 17th, 2008|
Source: The Daily News
Title: Jonathan Rhys Meyers Makes History
Author: Marshall Fine
Jonathan Rhys Meyers makes history
Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays a little-known hero in 'The Children of Huang Shi.' Jonathan Rhys Meyers has gone from playing The King (Elvis Presley, on the 2005 miniseries "Elvis") to another king (Henry VIII, on Showtime's "The Tudors") to yet another historical figure hardly anyone remembers.
In "The Children of Huang Shi," opening Friday, Rhys Meyers is George Hogg, a British journalist who never found fame - yet is considered a hero in a small corner of China.
"When I read the script, I had no idea who George Hogg even was," says Rhys Meyers. "But a lot of people don't know. He never really got the opportunity to be well known." In "Children," the 30-year-old actor portrays Hogg as an impetuous Oxford graduate who goes to Shanghai to make his name as a foreign correspondent.
When the Japanese invade China in 1937, Hogg goes to the embattled city of Nanjing to chronicle the carnage. Instead, he is captured by the Japanese and nearly executed, only to be rescued by Communist Chinese forces who hide him at a small orphanage full of victims of the Japanese. Before long, Hogg has set up a school and has become both teacher and protector of the kids. But when the school becomes targeted by the Japanese army, Hogg must move his students on a 700-mile journey across dangerous mountain passes to take them out of danger.
"George Hogg went to China to tell a story, to become a Robert Capa-like figure," says Rhys Meyers, recalling the famed 20th-century combat photographer. "[Hogg] was a boy who went to Oxford and arrived in China to find that it was different from anything he'd ever experienced. He found that life was waiting there for him. It gave him all the things he hadn't anticipated."
The same can be said of Rhys Meyers, a high-school dropout from County Cork, Ireland, who began acting on a lark at 16 as a way to put some money in his pocket. "It was just something I wanted to have a go at," he says. "I don't have to make it any more complex than that. When I first started, I wanted a job. Over a period of years, I started to look at it differently. Now it's less about the money and more about the work itself. It's a learning process. You can't learn to be a painter without painting - and you can't learn to be an actor without acting."
With his sleepy eyes, pouty lips and killer cheekbones, Rhys Meyers could have easily slipped into playboy and lady-killer roles - as he did, literally, in Woody Allen's 2005 film "Match Point."
But Rhys Meyers has made it a point to diversify. He was a David Bowie-like rock star in 1998's "Velvet Goldmine," a tough-minded (though ultimately softhearted) girls' soccer coach in 2002's "Bend It Like Beckham," a soulful musician in last year's "August Rush" and, of course, Elvis Presley and Henry VIII. While the latter two roles seemingly have very little in common, each presented a unique challenge to the actor, with Elvis the more difficult.
In "The Tudors," which has been renewed for a third season, Rhys Meyers gives Henry VIII a rock-star spin - young, sexy and headstrong - that is considerably different from the way the monarch has been portrayed in past films or even historical paintings.
"It's an approach from my perspective," says Rhys Meyers, adding that no one knows how Henry sounded or what he really looked like except for his portraits.
But everyone has a memory of Elvis - which made Rhys Meyers more than a little nervous when he first approached the role.
"It was very funny to wake up and go work with a crew of Elvis-loving Americans, with me being this Irish lad from Cork - it was kind of freaky," he says. Yet Rhys Meyers must have done something right. He ended up being nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe. "I thought it was possible that I was giving the worst performance in history," he says. "It's not like I ever felt, 'Dude, I was so on it today.' I mostly thought, 'I'm going to look ridiculous.'"
| Date: April 22, 2008 |
Source: Showtime website
Title: Announcements page
A ROYAL DECREE FOR SEASON THREE!
SHOWTIME's THE TUDORS GETS 3RD SEASON PICK-UP
LOS ANGELES, CA – (April 22, 2008) - As episode six of THE TUDORS' second season debuts this coming Sunday on SHOWTIME, the network is ramping up for a third season of palace intrigue and royal drama, premiering in 2009. Production is slated to begin on June 16th in Dublin, Ireland with series star Jonathan Rhys Meyers set to return. THE TUDORS took SHOWTIME subscribers and the media by storm when it premiered in April 2006, generating record viewership and critical acclaim. Last year, both the series and Rhys Meyers earned Golden Globe® nominations. And, season one of THE TUDORS is currently one of CBS Home
Entertainment's top-selling titles. "THE TUDORS is now a fixture for us at SHOWTIME and we're on our way to completing the entire saga of all six wives of Henry VIII," says SHOWTIME President of Entertainment Robert Greenblatt. "We are enormously proud of this show, the extraordinary cast, and the production team that recreates the grandeur of the Renaissance year in and year out. There is nothing like this anywhere on American television."
Viewers and critics alike have been enthralled watching the storied exploits of the sexy, hard-bodied King Henry VIII (Rhys Meyers) as he weds Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer) while working to declare his marriage invalid to Queen Katherine (Maria Doyle Kennedy). This prompts Pope Paul III (Peter O'Toole) to have him excommunicated -- a fall-out that changed the course of history. Anne's failure to deliver a male heir sets the wheels in motion for her beheading, and sends Henry straight into the arms of yet another prospect – Jane Seymour (Anita Briem), who dies from an infection after finally giving him his coveted male heir.
THE TUDORS is an Ireland-Canada co-production, executive produced by Morgan O’Sullivan for Octagon Films; Benjamin Silverman and Teri Weinberg for Reveille Productions; Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan for Working Title Films, and Sheila Hockin; and is created, written and executive produced by Michael Hirst. SHOWTIME presents the series in association with Peace Arch Entertainment.
Date: January 14th,2008
Source: Telegraph UK
Title: Henry VIII to get a reformation on US screens
Author: Christ Hastings
He boasted of having a "good calf" and was described by one contemporary as being "the most handsomest potentate" he had ever set eyes on. Yet for nearly a century some of Britain's best-known actors have portrayed Henry VIII as a pot-bellied psychopath riddled with gout.
Now a controversial new American drama series about the Tudors has re-invented the portly king as a "hyper-sexed" heart-throb whose "d**k changed the course of history".
The Tudors, which stars the British actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, portrays the monarch as a 16th-century equivalent of the television mobster Tony Soprano, and even gives him his own "brat pack" entourage.
The eight-hour drama, which was shot in Ireland and cost £15 million, contains copious amounts of nudity and sex despite there being no evidence to suggest that Henry was sexually promiscuous in his youth.
Ben Silverman, who has spent four years producing the series for America's giant Showtime cable network, admitted that his Henry would take viewers by surprise, but he insisted it was historically accurate. "I always think of Henry VIII as Tony Soprano in The Sopranos," he said. "He was one of the most primal characters in history but he has always been portrayed as a fat man with gout.
"If we had gone back and done the fat Henry VIII, people would have said, 'We have seen it a million times.' There would have been no reason to tell that story again.
"Henry was a man who could do anything and f*** anyone. The fact is, his d**k changed the course of history, literally."
The show is one of the most eagerly awaited events on US television this year. Talks are under way to sell the 10-part series to Britain. Both the BBC and Sky are believed to be interested.
The new version is unashamedly reliant on younger characters and adopts the fast pace and sharp editing techniques of shows such as Lost, The Sopranos and 24. A number of the episodes have been made by Charles McDougall, who has also directed Desperate Housewives.
Silverman, whose hits include Ugly Betty and the American version of The Office, said: "We are being truthful to the period while at the same time telling the story through a soapy, passionate, violent and contemporary filter. It's more like Baz Luhrmann's Romeo+Juliet than the kind of Masterpiece Theatre people are used to."It amuses me that the best British drama for 15 years is actually coming out of America."
The series, which co-stars Sam Neill as Cardinal Wolsey and Jeremy Northam as Sir Thomas More, concludes when Henry begins his relationship with Anne Boleyn, played by Natalie Dormer, who came to notice in Lasse Hallström's 2005 film Casanova. The 29-year-old Rhys Meyers is best known for his performances in Woody Allen's Match Point and last year's action-thriller M:i:III.
Showtime is considering a further eight series tracing the history of the Tudor dynasty and will devote at least one more series to Henry – and the rest of his wives.
There was a mixed response to the show last night from British historians, who felt the producers might have gone too far. While they welcomed the idea of portraying Henry VIII as a young and attractive man, there is less support for the notion of his being promiscuous.
Brett Dolman, a curator for royal palaces who is working on a major exhibition of Henry VIII to be unveiled in the summer, insisted that there was no evidence to suggest he was "trying to have as much sex as possible".
"There is evidence to say he was athletic and magnetic in his younger days," he said. "But there is no actual evidence that he had a great number of mistresses. For the first 10 years Henry was very close to his first wife Catherine [of Aragon]. They formed a very good partnership.
"It is important to remember he married very early and there is evidence of only one mistress. But one or more mistresses was fairly tame by the standards of the period."
Laura Stewart, a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow at Birkbeck College in London, said: "To portray him as someone whose sexual urges are driving the history of England is problematic. It suggests he has no other policies or political ambitions."
| Date: March 26, 2008|
Title: Rhys Meyers hits his stride
Author: Liz Smith
IT'S GOOD to be King!" said Mel Brooks in "The History of the World, Part I." It's good to be Jonathan Rhys Meyers, too. This young actor -- only 30, though acting since his teens -- has hit his stride. He plays a new kind of Henry VIII in Showtime's opulent and sexy "The Tudors," which begins its second season Sunday.
I met with Jonathan down in Manhattan's Soho, at the trendy 60 Thompson Street hotel. He looked, head to toe, like a page from men's Vogue. He is impossibly handsome. His features are startlingly lush; the eyes, the famous mouth. Like a matinee idol of years past -- Tyrone Power, perhaps -- even if Jonathan weren't a famous actor, he'd stop any room he entered. (The Dublin native began his career playing a glam-rocker in the cult classic "Velvet Goldmine" and he exudes a slightly decadent, ambiguous rock-star glamour.) The star is kinetic, and at first, almost disconcertingly intense.
He laughs, "Oh, I know it. People always say to me, you're so jittery, you can't sit still, you're nervous. But I'm not nervous. I'm just a very excitable guy. I'm enthusiastic. I can't help myself." He says that when he made "Mission: Impossible III" with Tom Cruise, he found somebody else with a similar powerful energy. "I had a great time on that, and when Tom and I were together it was like, whoosh!, all the air in the room evaporated. He was terrific to work with because he is so committed and professional. I mean, 17 hours a day. You have to respect that."
I REMIND Jonathan that we'd met briefly once before, at the premiere of his Woody Allen thriller, "Match Point." I hadn't been able to talk at length with him that night. But, when I passed him at the party, I said, "Great film, great performance, but what a sociopath your character is." Jonathan stepped back and barked, "He's not a sociopath, he's just a guy in a bad spot." I didn't pursue further niceties. So now I ask, was Henry VIII a sociopath or "just a guy in a bad spot?"
Jonathan says: "Neither. He's a megalomaniac, somebody with absolute power who has been corrupted by it, absolutely. He was a great King in many ways, and did great things. But he also did terrible things. Not just to his women, but to his people. In the matter of divorcing Catherine of Aragon and marrying Anne Boleyn, challenging the church, he gave his people no choice. Choose the Pope or the King, be excommunicated by the Pope or excommunicated by the King. And God help you if you choose the Pope! I'm trying to show how he became what he became, why he was so paranoid, why he was so ashamed. He was paranoid because everybody wanted to be King and the knives were everywhere, literally. He was ashamed because in the matter of Catherine and Anne, he knew he'd done wrong. He never doubted the legitimacy of his marriage to Catherine. He wanted Anne, period."
JONATHAN, slender, toned, not towering in height, is a very different Henry than we've seen before. "I had some trepidation, when offered the role. You know, when I played Elvis, I could look in the mirror, and sort of see Elvis in myself. But Henry the VIII? So, you know, I decided I'd play it more from here," touching the smooth plane of his semi-bare chest. "I do think we've sort of changed the game. When I saw photos of Eric Bana as Henry in "The Other Boleyn Girl" I thought, "Fuck! He doesn't look that dissimilar from me. I worried a little how I'd stack up. He's so tall; he's got that overpowering quality. And I've met him. He handed me my Golden Globe for 'Elvis." I remember just looking way up! But this is the 21st century. You have to have a hot Henry VIII! Nobody wants to see a 300 pound man making love to a beautiful woman. Maybe on some strange Internet site, but otherwise audiences demand eye-candy all around."
The network is already planning a third season, minus the unfortunate ladies, Anne and Catherine, who meet their respective ends this year. Jonathan says, "I hope season three focuses on the rebellion in Scotland, where you see Henry fight for a change." I wondered if the series would touch on the pathetic Katherine Howard, the second wife to lose her head? Jonathan couldn't say, but did remark that Mistress Howard "absolutely deserved to be beheaded. Anne Boleyn was executed because there was no other way to get out of that. She couldn't give him a son and that was the reason for the marriage. But Katherine Howard earned her beheading. She was a little nymphomaniac. She had over one hundred lovers in the palace!"
Now, I begged to differ with Jonathan; she'd had a number of indiscreet affairs before and, alas, during her marriage to Henry, but a "nympho" a "hundred lovers?" The actor was adamant and I let it go -- you don't argue with Jonathan Rhys Meyers! He did soften slightly, "Well, she was very young and silly, the poor thing had no concept of 'wed and bed' -- she didn't see she was doing anything wrong, Henry being rather gross by then." Jonathan spoke glowingly of Maria Doyle Kennedy, who plays Catherine, and infuses her every moment with dignity and strength, "Isn't she magnificent?!" he exclaimed. And of the delectable Natalie Dormer, as Anne, he insists, "season two belongs to her. She owns it; she plays it like a harp and broke down walls with this performance."
On the bigscreen, Jonathan will soon be seen in "The Children of Hunag Shi," in which he plays a reporter covering the infamous Japanese occupation of China in 1937. And then comes "Mandrake," based on the comicbook character, Mandrake the Magician.
| Date: March 29, 2008 |
Source: ABC News
Title: 'Tudors': History Stripped Down, Sexed Up
Author: Sheila Marikar
Showtime Series May Not Be Historically Accurate, but It EntertainsIn a time when courting is conducted through text messages and marriages are annulled at the drop of a Vegas poker chip, it's refreshing to watch Jonathan Rhys Meyers whisper sweet nothings during naughty dalliances and and enlist the pope's aid to get with the woman of his dreams.
The only problem is, the story "The Tudors" tells isn't what actually went down in 16th century England. It's history stripped down and sexed up in stiletto heels and glitter. "It's cracking good drama, but as a historian, my hair's standing on end," said Alison Weir, author of "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" and the upcoming "Lady Elizabeth." "I think it's misplaced, to be honest. It's sloppy filmmaking. Historically, forget it, this is not what happened."
The Showtime series about the early reign of Henry VIII returns for a second season of bodice ripping and head chopping Sunday night. here's no doubt that Meyers, who plays the power-hungry king, and Natalie Dormer, who plays the porcelain-skinned Anne Boleyn, provide some pretty sweet eye candy. And with its regal costumes and opulent sets, "The Tudors" is one of the most visually arresting shows on TV.
But the show clearly favors flair over facts, according to some, to its detriment. "For a program to be made with integrity, it has to take account of the facts," Weir said. "Not one female costume in there is correct for the period. It's so off the mark it's laughable. They're like fairy-tale costumes."
"There's some damn good acting," she continued. "But Jonathan Rhys Meyers should've been made to look like Henry VIII -- he needed a wig, they should've aged him, he should've put on a bit of weight. It's such a missed opportunity. They have all the resources -- why get some things right and not others?"
Oh, come on -- this is TV, not Reformation England 101. You're supposed to watch and enjoy, not analyze and take notes. At least that's how Michael Hirst, creator, executive producer and writer of "The Tudors'" feels about it.
"It's a silly criticism. It's not supposed to be history. It's a drama, a soap opera that's based on historical material," he said. "As long as people aren't wearing jeans or caftans, to me, that's acceptable."
Hirst, who also wrote the screenplays for "Elizabeth" and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," said he initially laughed when Ben Silverman (now head of NBC entertainment) approached him years ago asking if he could "turn the Tudors into a TV soap opera." Besides the semi-absurd notion of morphing one of Europe's most menacing monarchs into a "Young and the Restless"-esque heartthrob, historical drama is a tough sell on the small screen.
Despite critical acclaim, HBO's "Rome" fell after two seasons due to low ratings and high production costs. But Hirst figured if David Chase could make Tony Soprano's mob seem like family to millions of people outside North Jersey, he might be able to do the same for Henry VIII's court.
"Americans have a pretty big resistance to watching men in tights. So one of the things I was commissioned to do was to make history relevant," he said.
"Instead of writing something where the characters seemed like people from another planet, I wanted to do something that resonated with contemporary audiences. I didn't want these people to seem remote in any way," he said. "The basis of the first season was a young guy who's married to an older woman, meets a younger woman and then wants a divorce. That's a universal story."
Viewers agreed. About 900,000 viewers -- more than three times Showtime's average primetime audience -- tuned in for the show's premiere last April.
Now that it has a fan base and is coming out with new episodes before the bulk of network dramas still catching up after the Hollywood writers strike, "The Tudors'" stands to score regal ratings again. Its insanely good-looking cast can't hurt.
"So many people on the show are attractive," said Lindsay Soll, Entertainment Weekly's self-proclaimed "Tudor" expert. "You look at the whole royal court -- they're basically models. And the costumes and the sets are gorgeous. It's so colorful and elegant and dripping with luxury. They make it so rich."
Disgusted by reality TV? Sick of shows about spoiled suburban housewives and self-important lawyers? So what if "The Tudors" doesn't tell it exactly like it was -- it remains far enough removed from modern life, and from anything else on television, that it's worth watching for those reasons alone, she said.
"You can't go, 'Oh my God, he wouldn't really leave his wife for her,'" Soll said. "You can't look at it the same way as 'The Hills.'"
| Date: March 29, 2008|
Source: The Washington Post
Title:'The Tudors' puts a little oomph into the telling of history
Author: Becky Krystal
The past is always more interesting than it seems. That's the premise Michael Hirst adheres to whenever he sits down to write "The Tudors."
The Showtime series (9 p.m. Sundays) traces the reign of the oft-married King Henry VIII of England, and as the second season begins Sunday, the monarch continues his quest to wed mistress Anne Boleyn and gain supremacy over the Roman Catholic Church in England.
"It may be dry in a history book, but if you think about it, it involves people's beliefs and passions and their whole way of life being destroyed and challenged," said Hirst, who previously wrote the Oscar-nominated 1998 film "Elizabeth" about Henry's daughter, Queen Elizabeth I.
As this season unfolds, the king realizes the extent of his power and uses it against two people close to him: his wife Anne (Natalie Dormer) and Sir Thomas More (Jeremy Northam).
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who plays Henry, said the history makes for good drama."People will die, and people will live," he said. "And people will become very wealthy and very powerful, and other people will be destroyed." Rhys Meyers said he can sympathize with Henry despite the monarch's reputation as a tyrant."Henry's only a king because he was anointed such. ... But you have go right through the crown, go right through the jewelry, go right through the clothes, go right through the doors of the apartment, go right through into the naked human. And you realize how vulnerable he actually is."
Hirst, also the show's creator and an executive producer, said the scope of a 10-episode season allows him to delve into the characters' nuances, including Henry's more admirable traits and some of the negative aspects of More, who was canonized in the 20th century.
In doing historical research, Hirst said he looks for "oddball moments" that people might not have seen before, such as in the first season when Henry wrestles the king of France -- shirtless.
In his shirt and the rest of his costume, Rhys Meyers said he feels transformed into Henry.
"You've got to learn to allow the clothes to wear you as well as you wearing the clothes. And you have to walk differently. You stand differently," he said. "It's quite extraordinary."
Date: March 28th, 2008
Source: TV Guide
Title:Regarding Henry: The Tudors Second-season Preview
Author: Victoria Young
In The Tudors (Sundays at 9 pm/ET, Showtime) steamy second season, Henry VIII becomes a royal pain for Anne Boleyn — and the pope.
King Henry VIII is all grown up and has politics — and sex — on his mind. In the second season of Showtime's bodice ripper The Tudors, Jonathan Rhys Meyers relates to the monarch's new maturity. "I like growing older," he muses, sitting in his trailer at Dublin's Ardmore Studios, puffing on a Marlboro Light. "I just turned 30, and it does inform the way I play Henry, who is much more mature and less erratic. I've changed over the past year." Ask him how, and the angry young man reemerges: "It's none of your business." True, Rhys Meyers had a rough 12 months, including a drunken brush with authorities at the Dublin airport, days before the death of his mother. And The Tudors shot 10 episodes over 102 grueling 12-hour days during a summer of torrential rain. It's enough to try the patience of a king.
Henry faces his own set of new challenges. "In the last season, Henry was a young boy who falls in love for the first time and dabbles in politics. We left things on the edge of the abyss," creator Michael Hirst explains. "Season 2 jumps into it with the Reformation — the most important single decade in English history."
Spanning 1530 to 1536, Season 2 focuses on Henry's battle of wills with Pope Paul III (Peter O'Toole)."The pope established the fortunes of his Farnese family by stealing golden objects from St. Peter's and smelting them down," Hirst says. "He also thought it might be a good idea to 'remove' Anne Boleyn if she caused trouble."
Hirst describes Henry and Pope Paul III as "rivals, enemies and power brokers." Yet they never met. "It's war… but at a distance." Across town from the studio, O'Toole sits serenely on a bar stool in a church, having just delivered a scene entirely in Latin (for which he received a standing ovation from the cast and crew). "I have to be honest; I hadn't heard of The Tudors when I was sent the script," O'Toole says. "But I was amused by it, and so here I am. I'm very much enjoying playing the pope. Not least, I'm enjoying the fact that people bow, and kiss my ring."
If Henry finds the pope strong-willed, that's nothing compared to his new wife, Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer). The connection between Rhys Meyers and Dormer still sizzles. "When you shoot such a lengthy series, relationships become established, and there's genuine respect and tenderness between actors that is not dissimilar to a married couple," Dormer says. "There is a natural chemistry between Jonathan and me, and Jonathan is a true gentleman."
The same can't be said for King Henry, who starts to stray (with Anne's lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, for one, played by Anita Briem) almost as soon as he marries Anne. Dormer says Anne's troubles may earn viewers' sympathy: "She becomes a wife and a mother. And she goes from having been the other woman to finding herself at the other point of the triangle."
The season will follow Anne's story to its conclusion, which makes it darker than the first. "It's more about conspiracy and, ultimately, murder," Hirst says, adding that the day before, they filmed a man being boiled in hot oil. "There are not a whole lot of belly laughs in this series."
Even so, Rhys Meyers is in it for the long haul, provided the series continues. "I can't really evolve from The Tudors," he says. "It's very hard to better it." Long live the king!
| Date: March 2008 |
Source: Channel Guide Magazine
Title: The King of Hearts
Author: Elaine Bergstrom
"The Tudors" Returns For Another Steamy Season.The Tudors' new season, premiering March 30 on Showtime, covers Anne's thousand-day reign as queen. Even casual fans of history know the season will not end well. Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour (played by Icelandic actress Anita Briem) is already at court and has caught the king's eye.
We interviewed Michael Hirst, the producer, creator and director of this sultry series about the new season and where it will be taking us. Here are his comments on life at court now that Anne is queen.
How much will the clash of ideology between Pius III and Henry play into the new season?
Season 2 has as its dynamic center two different but connected issues: the marriage of Henry to Anne Boleyn and the Reformation -- the destruction of the Catholic Faith and its institutions in England. These issues are related in very many ways. Anne was herself a Reformer who encouraged Henry to become head of the English Church. In the process Henry isolated and finally killed his old friend Thomas More, as well as overturning a traditional way of life which had existed for centuries. In so doing, of course, Henry came directly into conflict with the new pope, Paul III. Unlike his prevaricating predecessor, Paul was a man of action, as ruthless as any Renaissance Prince.
Although he could not call upon an army to overthrow Henry when the king finally broke with Rome and denied his authority, the pope could still -- and did -- summon up other powers. He continued to threaten Henry with the extreme sanction of excommunication, which meant he would be denied the consolations of the church and not granted entry to heaven; and he sponsored assassination attempts by loyal Catholics on Anne, called a "heretic and a whore." So, yes, the clash of ideologies, as well as of personalities, is at the heart of the new season.
The early information on this series makes it clear that this season will be essentially the thousand-day reign of Anne Boleyn. Historically, Jane Seymour was already part of court when Anne fell out of favor. Some historians view her as the love of Henry's life, while Anne was the passion. Who will be playing Jane and will you follow this view of history?
Jane is played by an actress called Anita Briem. She is Icelandic, educated in the UK, living in Hollywood. She is an extreme contrast to Anne -- blond and careful, with some ice in her veins, against dark and passionate and sometimes wild Anne. But both young women are clever, beautiful and complex. And it's true that Jane became a Lady-in-Waiting to Anne, just as Anne had been a Lady-in-Waiting to Katherine when she was Queen, and so got noticed that way. After all, there were no other ladies in court!
And of course it is terrible for Anne, having to watch history repeat itself, having to observe the budding relationship between her husband and her maid. It almost drives her mad! But to say that Jane was the love of Henry's life, while Anne was his passion, doesn't do justice to either of them, nor the complexity of Henry's own (increasingly strange) psychology.
Henry didn't know Jane long enough (she died giving birth to their first child) to qualify as the love of his life. Of course, since she presented him with the thing he desired most in the world -- a living and legitimate son and heir -- he always had a special place for her in his heart. But he had desired and pursued Anne for six or seven years before he actually married her, and the violence of his hatred of her in the end does indicate just how much he'd loved her in the beginning. He ultimately felt that Anne had made a fool of him, and exploited his passion for her, which made him vulnerable. As a king, he felt strongly that nobody should ever make him feel vulnerable -- especially not a woman. And, in retrospect, this made him admire and love his first queen, Katherine, even more since she was always regal and didn't exercise over him "the black charms and witchcraft of women."
We can safely say that Henry was like many men: he didn't ever really understand women (after all he'd been brought up to enter the church); he lusted after them, even sometimes intellectually treated them as equals, was often chivalric, but in the end, considered them capricious and unfathomable.
Can you comment on Peter O'Toole's portrayal of the pope?
Peter O'Toole's colorful past, just as much as his charismatic presence, makes him an ideal Renaissance Pope. The real Pope Paul III, a scion of the Farnese family in Italy, was both brilliant and cunning. He established his family's fortune by stealing treasures from the Vatican and smelting them down. And yet he also commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. A larger-than-life character, immoral and spiritual at the same time, he finds perfect expression through O'Toole, who on screen is simultaneously magisterial and wry. O'Toole also brings in his wake a kind of grandeur which enhances the status of his papal role, and of course he remains one of the world's great actors. When he delivered a long public speech, purportedly from his balcony overlooking St Peter's Square, he did so in one take -- and the whole production crew stood up to applaud!
Right now The Tudors is the top download on iTunes, indicating that a younger hipper audience is attracted to the drama. This is something of a break with the demographic of the older audience that usually watches historical dramas. I know this was what the production aimed for, but did you anticipate the incredible success you had?
We were very much hoping that the show would attract younger viewers. It's unlike, after all, most if not all previous "historical dramas," or dramas based upon historical material. This was deliberate. I have long been frustrated by the tendency of the makers of such shows to be both deferential to their subjects and treat them like dummies in a museum. We knew from the start we wanted living drama; we wanted human beings dealing with real issues who bled when cut, conspired against each other, and often ended up in bed together. History is not a foreign country. We wanted a young Henry because Henry was young once, he was very attractive, and lots of violent and sexy and important things happened in England before he grew fat, grotesque and "historical." We wanted to get away from cliche. We wanted people to think and have fun watching the show. And yet the show doesn't just appeal to young people. As far as I can tell -- especially among women -- it is across the board, and across the world. Why? For the reasons above -- and because it works as a soap opera, as engaging drama: because you care about the people inside it, and want to know if they live or die.
Since the series that has been so much about Henry and Anne and such a hit for Showtime, it certainly could continue on. But Jane was no Anne. If you have a season 3, how will you keep the passion alive?
The Tudors is all about passion. Sexual passion, certainly. But also religious passion -- for which Fisher and More and others are executed. Political passion, too -- which in those days meant an intense, often murderous ambition for personal or family advancement. The passion of parents for children, and the passion of love. So it's not true that the only driving force of the first two seasons is Henry's sexual desire for Anne. True, Natalie Dormer comes of age and is triumphant as the doomed Queen -- but by then Henry hates her and has a passion for her destruction. At the same time, his passion for Jane is idealistic, projecting onto her all the uncorrupted, innocent virtues he feels Anne has besmirched. And, after her, there will be other queens, other women, other passions, betrayals and deaths. Henry's reign, quite frankly, is the reign of a passionate man, whose passions finally turn him into a monster. But -- don't forget -- the series is called "The Tudors," not "Henry." Think about that!
| Date: March 27, 2008|
Source: USA Today
Title:Showtime's 'Tudors' king builds power for Season 2
Author: Gary Levin
He makes the rules: Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) leaves his wife to marry Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer), despite the church's disapproval.
NEW YORK — King Henry VIII is in a royal funk when Showtime's The Tudors returns for a second season Sunday (9 p.m. ET/PT).Last season, says Tudors creator Michael Hirst, "Henry was a young, virile man who was having a lot of fun, but he didn't really seem that serious." This year, Cardinal Wolsey — a mentor to Henry — is dead. Henry insists on dumping his wife, Katherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy), and marrying Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer) against the wishes of the Catholic Church and the newly installed Pope Paul III (Peter O'Toole). He ruthlessly dispatches disloyal foes and seizes power over the church.
"When you see Henry in Season 2, he's a little less foolish," says star Jonathan Rhys Meyers, clad in a gray cardigan and jeans during an interview at a SoHo hotel last week. "The mistakes he makes are harder, and they have more consequences, but he's more powerful. He's starting to realize his own strength; he doesn't have to answer to anybody, including God. He realizes it's all his."
The new batch of 10 episodes, which traces the six-year span from 1530-36, is "darker, and it's more serious," Hirst says. When Henry executes Sir Thomas More (Jeremy Northam), "he loses his conscience, and it marks the beginning of a slide into tyranny, into the monster he becomes."
Says Rhys Meyers: "What Henry did, and it's very evident in Season 2, is he didn't give anybody a (real) choice. You have to choose him or the pope. If you choose the pope, God help you; if you choose him, you face excommunication from your religion."
Hirst is working on scripts and making plans to begin filming a third season of The Tudors in Ireland in early June, which will cover 1536-40, the death of Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour, and the Pilgrimage of Grace. Showtime is expected to issue the formal go-ahead next month.
Meanwhile, Rhys Meyers will shoot Shelter, a thriller with Julianne Moore, and is talking up The Children of Huang Shi, due May 23, the true story of a British journalist who saves 65 orphans in China after the 1937 Japanese invasion. The intense, Dublin-born actor, known for earlier roles in Bend It Like Beckham, Woody Allen's thriller Match Point and CBS' Elvis miniseries, says he won't consider comic roles. "I'd be a terrible comedian. I can't be funny on cue, and I don't think I could do take 10 of a joke."
But Rhys Meyers has a ready response to suggestions from historical purists that, like Eric Bana's portrayal in The Other Boleyn Girl, released last month, Rhys Meyers doesn't look the part. That's because few younger actors have played the king. (Rhys Meyers, 30, is Henry at 39 as this season starts.)
"Everybody expects the king to be older," he says. But "nobody wants to watch a 300-pound red-haired guy running around screaming. It's just not attractive. After five or six episodes, people are going to turn it off. Would you like to see Henry, as is, having sex? Probably not. It's poetic license."
Yet that very license made the role more challenging, he says. "When I played Elvis, I could look in the mirror in the morning and see Elvis. It was very easy to do that (with hair and makeup). It's difficult for me to look in the mirror and see Henry. I've got to be 6-foot-5 in here," he says, pointing to his lanky frame. "So that's very challenging. But why else would I do it?"
Date: March 26th, 2008
Source: Baltimore Sun [Tribune News Services]
Title: Catching up with Jonathan Rhys Meyers as he starts new season of 'Tudors'
It's good to be Jonathan Rhys Meyers. This young actor - only 30, though acting since his teens - has hit his stride. He plays a new kind of Henry VIII in Showtime's opulent and sexy The Tudors.
I met with Jonathan down in Manhattan's Soho, at the trendy 60 Thompson Street hotel. It was a chilly, rainy day, but Jonathan appeared wearing a tight, white T-shirt, cut to a deep clavicle-baring vee, a snug sweater over it - one button fastened to emphasize his small waist - and well-fitted jeans. He looked, head to toe, like a page from men's Vogue. He is impossibly handsome. His features are startlingly lush, the eyes, the famous mouth. Even if Jonathan weren't a famous actor, he'd stop any room he entered.
The star is kinetic, and at first, almost disconcertingly intense. He laughs, "Oh, I know it. People always say to me, you're so jittery, you can't sit still, you're nervous. But I'm not nervous. I'm just a very excitable guy. I'm enthusiastic. I can't help myself."
He says that when he made Mission Impossible III with Tom Cruise, he found somebody else with a similar powerful energy. "I had a great time on that, and when Tom and I were together it was like, whoosh, all the air in the room evaporated. "
I remind Jonathan that we'd met briefly once before, at the premiere of his Woody Allen thriller, Match Point. I hadn't been able to talk at length with him that night. But, when I passed him at the party, I said, "Great film, great performance, but what a sociopath your character is." Jonathan stepped back and barked, "He's not a sociopath; he's just a guy in a bad spot."
So now I ask, was Henry VIII a sociopath or "just a guy in a bad spot?" Jonathan says: "Neither. He's a megalomaniac, somebody with absolute power who has been corrupted by it, absolutely.
"He was a great king in many ways, and did great things. But he also did terrible things. Not just to his women, but to his people. In the matter of divorcing Catherine of Aragon and marrying Anne Boleyn, challenging the church, he gave his people no choice. Choose the pope or the king, be excommunicated by the pope or excommunicated by the king. And God help you if you choose the pope!"
"I'm trying to show how he became what he became, why he was so paranoid, why he was so ashamed. He was paranoid because everybody wanted to be king and the knives were everywhere, literally. He was ashamed because in the matter of Catherine and Anne, he knew he'd done wrong. He never doubted the legitimacy of his marriage to Catherine. He wanted Anne, period."
The second season of The Tudors debuts on Showtime Sunday. And the network is already planning a third season, minus the unfortunate ladies, Anne and Catherine, who meet their respective ends this year. Jonathan says, "I hope Season 3 focuses on the rebellion in Scotland, where you see Henry fight for a change."
On the big screen, Jonathan will soon be seen in The Children of Huang Shi, in which he plays a reporter covering the infamous Japanese occupation of China in 1937.
But Henry VIII fascinates Jonathan - it is a performance in progress. "I base a lot of what I do with Henry on Sir Thomas More's remark, "We must never let the lion know his own strength. God help us if we do!"
| Date: March 22, 2008 |
Source:AOL - TV squad
Title: The Tudors Season 2 - an early look
Author: Kristin Sample
If you are excited for season 2 of The Tudors on Showtime but can't wait until it airs on Sunday March 30th, check this out. Showtime is making the season premiere available to fans online now. Just click here and enter the password: Royal.
For an early look at the show, read on past the jump...
Last season left us standing on the precipice of great change in England. The Roman Catholic church was losing influence in Britain as followers of Luther were rising in the shadows. The king wanted to annul his marriage to Queen Katherine. The Howards (Anne's uncle) and the Boleyns were positioning themselves closer and closer to the monarch, using Anne as their pawn. Anne, in love with the king and pressed forth by her own ambition, had persuaded Henry to give up the queen and marry her. She told Henry she would not have sex with him until they are properly married. She promised him a son, an heir he desires above all to keep the Tudor family in power. Indeed, it's power and how its used that will push the plot forward in season 2.
From the season premiere, I can tell that we will see a new Henry this season. Yes, he's still the same insatiable, gluttonous, passionate king he was in season one but now, he only obeys his own desires (and those of Anne who has bewitched him). Last season, Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas More provided counsel for the frivolous king. And this season, with Wolsey (Sam Neill) dead and More (Jeremy Northam) less influential, Henry has unlimited power. When asked if this season was more difficult than the last, Jonathan Rhys Meyers said, "It brings some very real and new challenges. I had to find a way of reinventing Henry that made him seem older, more cynical and controlled. His temper gets much worse this season and he gets more vicious. He's going down that long and dangerous road to loneliness and paranoia." I'm sure, like last season, Rhys Meyers' performance will be nothing short of excellent.
We'll also see the decline of Anne's and Henry's turbulent love this season. You can detect this decline in the very first episode. He'll tire of Anne. She'll get desperate to keep her place in his favor. And, well, I think we all know what happens from there.
Speaking of Anne Boleyn, I love Natalie Dormer in the role. In fact, I find her sexier than Natalie Portman in The Other Boleyn Girl. Of course, Portman is a stunning beauty and definitely beared the burden of that film. But, Dormer has a different appeal as Anne. Her chemistry with Rhys Meyers great too.
There is one thing I would like to see more of in The Tudors. I think George Boleyn (Nick Dunning) and especially Uncle Howard (Henry Czerny) should play more of a role in Anne's ascendance. I know they work behind the scenes but I would like to see some scenes where they push Anne to continue her role with the king, maybe even ask her intimate questions about their relations.
Finally, Peter O'Toole joins the cast as Pope Paul III, successor to Pope Clement who procrastinated in giving Henry his annulment. From what I saw in the first few episodes, I don't think Showtime will regret casting O'Toole as the pope. He looks truly amused with the character, like he has fun acting the role. O'Toole commented about the appeal of The Tudors, "It's one of the great drama of all time. The blood alone is amazing. I think Henry was responsible for the deaths of over 70,000 people. Imagine!...He went from this golden figure--which he was as a young man--to an utterly decadent and corrupted human being."
Well, I say, let the decadence, the corruption, the blood, and especially the sex BEGIN! Don't forget to watch the episode early at Showtime's site.
| Date: March 21, 2008|
Source:New York Times News Service
Title:Darkness, tyranny will reign in 'The Tudors'
Season two sees our royal bloods tumble into madness and surrender to fiercer tendencies
DUBLIN–For a guy playing Henry VIII, Jonathan Rhys Meyers was looking very skinny in his jeans, relaxing in a trailer on the Irish set of Showtime's steamy period drama "The Tudors.'' The series, which critics could take or leave but many viewers are eating up (the costumes! the sets! the sex scenes!), returns for its second season on Sunday, March 30.
"I have got absolutely no physical attributes in common with Henry VIII," Rhys Meyers acknowledged as he made tea. "So everything has to be more about his energy, more about power, more about confidence.''
He had just filmed a scene set shortly before Henry and Anne Boleyn's wedding, which history tells us took place when the king was in his early 40s. Rhys Meyers is 30. "Henry is 30," too, this season, he said with a playful gleam in his eye. "He's going to stay 30 for a while.''
He will also stay slim, although Rhys Meyers has been eating voraciously to put on a few royal pounds. "You don't want to see a skinny guy in a big fat suit," he said. "Unless it's Eddie Murphy.''
The king's physical appearance may be a minor point, really, when you consider the historical facts that "The Tudors" have played fast and loose with. And Michael Hirst, the show's creator and writer, will defend every single decision.
"Showtime commissioned me to write an entertainment, a soap opera, and not history," said Hirst, taking a break in an office at Ardmore Studios, near Dublin. "And we wanted people to watch it.''
It seems there have been practical moviemaking reasons for the misrepresentations. Take Henry's sisters. In Season 1, Gabrielle Anwar played one, Princess Margaret, who marries an older man, the king of Spain, against her will. As any number of Internet history buffs will tell you, it was Henry's other sister, Mary, who did that, and the older man was the king of France. So didn't the writer do his research?
As it turns out, Hirst was well aware of both facts. But the list of characters already included a Princess Mary, Catherine of Aragon's little daughter. "I didn't want two Princess Marys on the call sheet," he said, because it might have confused the crew. " `Which one do you mean, Michael? Who do we dress?' ''
As for Margaret/Mary's husband, "The Tudors" had shown a French king in a different context in Season 1. Hirst feared that viewers might be confused, so he just chose another European country.
Liberties were also taken with the death of Thomas Wolsey, archbishop of York and the king's right-hand man. According to historians Wolsey fell ill and died in Leicester in 1530 on his way back to London to face charges of treason. In Season 1, Wolsey committed suicide there, despite religious strictures against it.
Hirst defends his decision, contending that this might have been the way things really happened, and that Henry would have covered it up. Wolsey certainly had motive.
"He was going to come back to a show trial," Hirst said. "And the best that he could get would have been a public beheading in front of all his enemies and a jubilant crowd.''
Hirst also wanted to give an acclaimed actor, Sam Neill, a powerful scene: "I didn't want him to go out with a whimper. I wanted him to go out with a bang.''
History will continue to be altered in Season 2, beginning with Pope Paul III, played by Peter O'Toole. The pope who refused to let Henry divorce his first wife and excommunicated him was Paul's predecessor, Clement VII. But last season Clement, played by Ian McElhinney, had a few short scenes.
Hirst worried that viewers might remember and react negatively to the casting change, so he just set up a papal succession. But in reality by the time Paul III was elected, in October 1534, Catherine was long gone, and Henry and Anne had been married roughly a year and a half.
Hirst decided that any confusion created by the changes is outweighed by the interest the series may inspire in the period and its figures. To that end, he wants to emphasize the similarity to the current era.
"I mean, who is Henry but a man who's married to an older woman who falls in love with a younger one and wants to marry her?" Hirst asked. "We've seen that.''
Natalie Dormer, who plays Anne, found it easy to see her as a contemporary. She said there were strong likenesses between her character and a more recent British royal beauty: Diana, Princess of Wales.
"They were both incredibly image conscious," said Dormer, 26, who was sitting in a dressing room, wearing a 16th-century-style ivory dress. "Anne Boleyn shook up the court in an aesthetic way.''
Just like Diana, who used glamour to court the news media, Dormer said, Anne made it clear that she was bringing "a certain je ne sais quoi, a sophistication" to the court. So far, the historical Anne and the Showtime Anne have not noticeably diverged. (She really did contract and survive what was known as the sweating sickness.) But anything can happen.
Anne will do historically accurate things, like marrying Henry, giving birth to a daughter (the future Elizabeth I), losing her husband to Jane Seymour and losing her head to the executioner. The season will also bring Thomas More's fall from grace, which really occurred.
Just the other day Hirst swore that there would be no further historical adjustments this season, at least nothing significant that he could think of. Oh, except the plot to kill Anne Boleyn. He invented that to illustrate how much the English people hated her.
| Date: March 25, 2008 |
Source: OK Magazine
Title:Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Girlfriend Balance Each Other
Author : Unknown
(Pic: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images Entertainment)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers and girlfriend heiress Reena Hammer can’t get enough of the reality show America’s Next Top Model. They tune in every Wednesday, and never miss an episode.
But why do they love each other?
“She’s very smart, she’s very beautiful and very responsible,” he tells me. “I am different.”
According to his August Rush director Kirsten Sheridan, Jonathan would make a great dad.
“He had such an emotional response to the idea of playing a father,” she tells me.
Is the 30-year-old Irishman ready for kids?
“I’m not so sure about that,” he admits. “Maybe.”
Catch Jonathan as King Henry VIII in The Tudors, which returns to Showtime for its second season on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Date: March 20, 2008
Source: People Magazine
Title:Jonathan Rhys Meyers Explains Mystery Ring Author:Jeffrey Slonim
Jonathan Rhys Myers and Reena Hammer Photo by: Pacific Coast News; Landov (inset)
Henry VIII may have married six times, but Jonathan Rhys Meyers – who plays the infamous king on The Tudors – isn't playing catch-up just yet.Although he's been wearing a mysterious band on his left ring finder, the Showtime star said he's not married. "It's from my girlfriend [Reena Hammer]," he told PEOPLE at the Sheraton New York Wednesday for the premiere of the show's second season. "It's an eternity ring. It's got a little message to me, a secret message." When pressed on the significance of the band, the 30-year-old actor would only say, "It's just something that two people in a relationship give to each other." Besides, Rhys Meyers added, "Everybody keeps asking me if I'm married ... It's nice to keep them guessing!"
| Date: March 17th, 2008|
Title: The Boxer : Rhys Meyers
Source: Newsweek - the British Invasion
Author: Ramin Setoodeh
Jonathan Rhys Meyers returns this month in "The Tudors."
He spoke to Ramin Setoodeh:
What ' s the best thing about being Henry VIII?
I suppose ultimate power. You get to do whatever you want, whenever you want, with whoever you want. It's the 16th-century equivalent of having a black AmEx card and no limit.
I thought you ' d say the women.
The AmEx card buys you that. When you've got wealth and power, you don't have to charm women.
Do you have a favorite wife?
The best wife was Catherine of Aragon. They were sexually attracted to each other, they liked each other's company, but Catherine got old and she couldn't produce a child. Otherwise, I think Henry would've stayed with her.
Does Henry wear boxers or briefs?
He wears boxers that have a crucifix like the 16th-century version of the Nike swish.
Where exactly is this crucifix?
It's right on the crest where you'd have the Calvin Klein or Hugo Boss sign. They're little metal crucifixes. When the show is over, I'll take all my pairs with me.
Of course for real.
Isn't underwear with metal crucifixes uncomfortable?
It's not high-grade steel or anything like that. They're quite comfortable, but they're quite funny to look at. Every so often I have to walk around on set just in my underwear.
Do you live in London now?
Yeah. We bought a house in St. John's Wood, which is a very posh part of London.
Who's the we?
Myself and my girlfriend. At the moment, I'm occupied with moving house.
Don't you have movers?
We're packing up the stuff ourselves. Believe me, if I was living in Los Angeles, I'd have movers. You could ring up somebody, and they'll be, like, "I'll be there in 10 minutes." It's not as efficient in Europe.
Do you ride the tube?
Of course. Nowadays, everyone has a cell phone, and on the cell phone there's a camera. People don't want an autograph anymore. Everyone wants a photograph.
Do you get recognized?
On a daily basis. I'd never thought I'd be the actor that said that.
| Date: March 2008 |
Source: Yahoo News
Title:'Tudors' turns bloodier in second season
Natalie Dormer felt "hysterical" as she prepared to portray Anne Boleyn's final moments for Showtime's "The Tudors." The scene was filmed at dawn in the courtyard of Dublin's famed Kilmainham Gaol, a stand-in location for the Tower of London, where the Tudor queen was beheaded on May 19, 1536. Dormer was overwhelmed by thoughts of the queen's fate and by the potent atmosphere of the notorious prison, now a tourist attraction but once the site of many executions.
She describes her "demented" weeping and wailing at the thought of "Anne going to die, and this horrible place, and everything that is dark about the human spirit and what man can do to one another." And to make things even more horrible, Dormer says they shot everything that is dark about the human spirit out of sequence, "so it was almost as though I needed to go through the whole upset process before I could stoically find my composure to walk up on to the scaffold," Dormer laughs. But when the camera rolled, the 26-year-old actress pulled herself together, delivering the scene with the composure Anne had displayed as she waited for the executioner's sword to swing. Unlike the real queen, Dormer says she earned a standing ovation from the crew of onlookers when it was over.
It's no plot secret that Anne lost her head at the command of her ruthless husband, King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), but this denouement won't occur until the last of the 10 episodes of the medieval drama series' second season, which premieres 9 p.m. EDT March 30. "The second series is darker. It's more serious. ... There are big issues, and, of course, the big issue is the Reformation," says show creator, writer and executive producer Michael Hirst. "Some of the things in the first series that people might have found too skittish — a band of young bloods having lots of sex and going hunting; having a rather carefree life while (Cardinal) Wolsey ran the state — that's gone," Hirst explains.
The new episodes reveal Henry taking charge of both church and state and beginning to display many of the tyrannical tendencies that ultimately dominated his personality. Both Hirst and Dormer are staunch supporters of the casting of Rhys Meyers as Henry, which had earned some criticism because he is physically dark and slight, unlike the robust, redheaded king. "He's not ginger, he's not tall and rotund, but the kind of alpha male that Henry was at his root, that he has — a charismatic young man, who had the eye of lots of ladies," says Dormer, who as Anne gets to feel the broad range of Henry's emotions, from love to hate to indifference. "Henry was someone who never recognized boundaries. Nobody could tell him he couldn't do something," Hirst says, noting that Rhys Meyers also possesses a quality "you wouldn't want to mess with," which works perfectly for portraying the tempestuous king.
If the series continues into further seasons, he's hoping the 30-year-old actor will accept the challenge "to do a `Citizen Kane' and get big, bald, ferocious, ugly, monstrous." But for now, Rhys Meyers' Henry remains glamorous. Glamorous, too, is Dormer's Anne, despite all she endures.
"Natalie said, `Just throw everything at me,' and I did. I put her through the wringer," says Hirst. His script depicts Anne's fierce determination to stay involved in pushing through the Reformation, even as she struggles to hold on to Henry's affection and give him a son. Then there's "a kind of madness" when she's arrested and fears she may be burned at the stake. "I was incredibly nervous about the psychological depths that she went to, the hysteria, the falling foul of herself, just the mess," says Dormer, adding she feared her Anne was "coming across as weak, and that's the last thing that Anne was." But she says Hirst reassured her that "you need to have that low in order to see it rise toward the end — to go to her death with dignity."
| Date: March 5th, 2008|
Title: Star Back in Class
Author: Fiona Gray
Natalie with headteacher Paul Leonard
| Date: February 7, 2008 |
Source: Moviesonline.ca - Movie news
Title: Sarah Bolger Interview (excerpted)
Author: Sheila Roberts
MoviesOnline sat down this weekend with Sarah Bolger at the Los Angeles press day for her new movie, “The Spiderwick Chronicles.” ....
Q: ‘The Tudors’ is a different kind of project.
Sarah: Absolutely, ‘The Tudors’ is completely different from, I think, anything really that I’ve done before. Princess Mary is a dark character who has been suppressed her whole life and she’s so devoted to the Catholic religion and feels that that’s her only escape. It’s the only thing that’s looking after her because she’s forbidden from seeing her mother and her dad doesn’t want to see her because he’s gone off with Anne Boleyn and I think it’s such a different role from this like feisty, bubbly Mallory. Actually, the sword fight would probably come in handy with Mary. I’m so sure she’s going to kill someone at some stage.
Q: Well, she is Bloody Mary.
Sarah: She is indeed. She killed so many Protestants.
Q: The first season made a huge impact. Do you think people are going to be satisfied with Season Two?
Sarah: I really hope so. I think the script is very strong and, like ‘Spiderwick,’ we have the books to go off and in this, we have history to work off of. I do so much research. You’ve no idea. I like history anyway. I just think it’s appropriate to do that. It’s so funny. It’s like with school work, if I put a lot of effort in, I feel so much better when I get the end result. It’s like acting; if I put a lot of work in and do the research and I do the work that’s necessary… like for ‘Spiderwick’ it was fencing and the accent work. I think it pays off in the end.
Check out Sarah Bolger's profile on the Tudors Wiki by clicking here
| Date: January 24, 2008|
Source: Broadway.com - Broadway Buzz
Title: Fresh Face - James Frain (excerpted)
Author: Joe Tropia
Hometown: Leeds, West Yorkshire, England Currently: Making his Broadway debut as Teddy, a philosophy professor whose surprise family visit sets off darkly comic consequences in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming.
Master Class: The eldest of eight children of a stockbroker and a teacher, Frain began thinking about acting as a kid but didn't get serious until he entered the University of East Anglia. "No one in my world had ever done such a thing, so it was kind of a fantasy," he says now. After graduation, he moved on to London's Central School of Speech and Drama, explaining, "Drama school in England functions as kind of the first round in American Idol; if you go, you're going to get seen by agents and casting directors." His very first film audition resulted in a role as one of Anthony Hopkins' students in Sir Richard Attenborough's Shadowlands. Frain recalls being in a state of "blank terror" after arriving on set. "I spent all my time watching Anthony Hopkins and seeing if I could copy what he was doing," he wryly laughs. "You just sort of keep quiet and flit your eyes around a lot. Then you cross your fingers and hope for the best."
Tudor City: Showtime fans recognize Frain as Thomas Cromwell, the scheming chief minister and divorce guru to King Henry VIII (portrayed by a frequently shirtless Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in The Tudors. "My knowledge of history was pretty thin," Frain admits, "but as far as [show creator] Michael Hirst was concerned, my character was the Lenin of the Reformation. He wanted to annihilate the Catholic Church and basically did within five years." The key to The Tudors' success? "[Hirst] put a lot of sex in it and made it look young and fresh and edgy," Frain says, "but once people get drawn into the story, they're good to go because the story is fantastic." Working on The Tudors' excellent scripts helped pave the way for his return the stage: "It really got me in the mode of thinking like a stage actor, where you have to absolutely respect the language."
Check out James Frain's profile on the Tudors Wiki by clicking here
| Date: January 27, 2008|
Source: The Daily Telegraph (Sydney)
Title: Will Jonny Be Good?
Author: Susan Chenery
JONATHAN Rhys Meyers may be a pretty boy of film, but the deep shadows in his seductive gaze reflect a childhood punctuated by adversity.Will Jonny make good on his sober promise to be a great actor?
The leaves are falling fast on a late autumn day in Rome, the afternoon tinged with cold.
In the distance, the venerable domes and statues of the Eternal City are silhouetted against a setting sun as Jonathan Rhys Meyers saunters along the red carpet for the premiere of his film August Rush.He’s seemingly intoxicated by all the shrill attention – and his own charisma.
In the flashing lights of hundreds of powerful cameras, his angular male beauty is accentuated and defined; the fine cheekbones, the famously full mouth, the eerie eyes.The crowds are watching him and he is watching himself, too, reflected back in the transient admiration.In photographs, he looks spoilt, arrogant and indolent, not unlike an F Scott Fitzgerald Great Gatsby golden boy to whom everything comes easily.And this is a persona deployed to vigorous effect as a sexed-up Henry VIII in the television series The Tudors, which made him a household name in Europe and the US, and which will premiere in Australia next month.
But later, in a small utilitarian room under the theatre, a very different and far more human story will unfold.
A story, not of the smooth, privileged passage that’s so often conferred upon the beautiful and talented, but one of pain and personal struggle.There’s no question no one enjoys his looks more than Rhys Meyers – known as Jonny – or that he may be his own biggest fan. “Would I be a narcissistic person?""Absolutely,” admits the 30-year-old Irishman. “To get up in front of a camera, of course you have to have vanity. All acting is narcissism in some way. I’ve always been seen as a pretty boy.
"Any actor who tells you they’re not vain is bullsh*tting,” he continues. "Any actor who believes that their physicality is not an intrinsic part of why they land a role is fooling themselves.”
While he’s making this frank admission, his bitten-down fingernails are thrumming the table and his legs are jiggling.
In fact, his whole long, lean body is vibrating with nervous energy. His light green eyes are bloodshot and there are shadows under them – there’s something slightly dissolute about him.Rhys Meyers brings an edgy intensity to all his roles and to this interview, and one can soon see that the exquisite facade is a mask for the unquiet, uneasy person beneath it, struggling with demons, albeit with an eloquent Irish accent.
In April 2007, Meyers briefly checked into what his publicist called an “alcohol treatment program”. Then, in November, he not only fell off the wagon, but fell off a chair at Dublin Airport and passed out on the floor.He was charged with public disorder for drunk and offensive behaviour (the charges were later dropped). Two days later, his mother, Geri Meyers-O’Keeffe, 50, died in a Dublin hospital after a sudden illness. The next day, Rhys Meyers was pictured drinking a can of extra-strong cider at 10am on a London street.But during our interview – which happened before the Dublin Airport incident – he speaks at length about sobriety and being a “role model, so you can’t go out and drink two bottles of vodka and get behind the wheel of a Porsche, because you don’t want other people to do that”. And while admitting he has a “compulsive, addictive personality”, Rhys Meyers says he gave up drinking because he wanted to be a “really successful actor”.
He says acting is his salvation. “I’m usually on location somewhere, so that keeps me safe. Working keeps you entertained and off the streets." Toni Collette, who had a year-long relationship with him after they both starred in 1998’s Velvet Goldmine, describes him as “probably dangerous”. She’s not wrong. In January 2005, he and his on-off girlfriend, the 21-year-old cosmetics heir Reena Hammer, were arrested and cautioned for common assault after a fight in their North London apartment, each blaming the other. (It’s been reported they have since split up, although Hammer accompanied Rhys Meyers to his mother’s funeral.)
Collette has admitted she had panic attacks for eight months after they broke up, and in 2006, she told the UK’s Daily Mail, “It was just one of those relationships you have to have. He’s a very interesting, charming, soulful person.”
For his part, Rhys Meyers admits, “I was only 19 and not mature enough. I’m a selfish boyfriend. I had a lot of rejection in my childhood. And when you’re rejected, you can’t accept love and certainly can’t give it.”Indeed, running in tandem with the ego and huge ambition is a palpable and undermining insecurity – a dangerous combination of qualities.
“I think all actors suffer from insecurity,” he says when I ask about this. “You’re in a job where people you don’t know will judge your work publicly. That creates insecurity. I don’t think there’s an actor out there who’s not insecure in some way. And if they tell you they’re not, they’re lying.” But this is a glib answer to what is known to be a chronic problem. He’s a man trying to build a palace on shaky foundations, with a past that constantly reaches out to pull him back.
When Rhys Meyers was two, his father left the family, taking the two youngest of four sons (Rhys Meyers being the eldest).
His late mother moved to a tiny council flat in a rough part of Ireland’s Cork. She, too, had an alcohol affliction, often drinking her dole money away, obliging the young Jonny to steal food to survive. (“I was an exquisite thief,” he once boasted.)
By 14, he was a delinquent, expelled from his Christian Brothers school. “I don’t think I’m rebellious; I think I just didn’t suit school,” he says. Virtually living on the streets, he was a fixture at the local pool hall. It was there that he met a local farmer, Christopher Crofts, who took him in with his own four sons. “I could see he had terrible insecurities,” Crofts has said.
"He needed structure and stability – and a phone.” Last year, Crofts was jailed for drugging and abusing a homeless 15-year-old boy in Morocco and, although Rhys Meyers emphatically denies there was ever any impropriety between himself and the man he considers an adoptive father, it does show how vulnerable he was.
He has given colourful accounts of his youth in the past, but now is more circumspect.“Yes, life was difficult. I didn’t have both parents, we didn’t have money and my mother was not a very responsible woman, but that’s not uncommon in this world. I did not grow up in an orphanage, as people have written but, yes, I was discovered in a pool hall.” His first job was in a Knorr TV commercial. “I was 16, and I made £500 (AU$1000) for two hours’ work. What boy is not going to say, ‘I’ll do this’? I wanted to act because it was soft money. "But then I went on the set of Michael Collins – which was the second film I shot – and it wasn’t even the acting, it was just the whole atmosphere, the whole buzz about it, the big cameras and, suddenly, it was kind of like, this is a pretty f*cking cool job.”
Still, success didn’t come easily. There was a lot of rejection, a lot of bit parts, a lot of failed auditions.“For every film I’ve landed, I’ve been turned down for hundreds of others. I’ve been told by every director in the world that I would never make it. People don’t know how hard it was.”But, slowly and determinedly, he’s built up a diverse body of work; credits such as Gormenghast, The Magnificent Ambersons, Bend it Like Beckham, Alexander, Vanity Fair, Mission: Impossible III and an Elvis TV biopic, for which he won a Golden Globe.
A big breakthrough was the Woody Allen movie Match Point, in which he starred opposite Scarlett Johansson. “Suddenly, I’m in the best Woody Allen movie in 10 years – in a big role. But it was difficult because I was playing somebody who is weak.”
And now, of course, there’s his spectacular portrayal of Henry VIII in The Tudors, a high-quality compulsive romp, in which we see a great deal of his admittedly magnificent torso, honed at the gym, as Henry makes his lascivious way through the ladies at his court.
Rhys Meyers is fantastically good as the spoilt and petulant boy king with an appetite for war and sex, who would go on to become a psychopath and have two of his six wives killed. “It’s a lot of fun being king – that’s where the party is.”
He’s been criticised for being too pretty, even though Henry, more commonly known as an overweight redhead, was said to have been beautiful as a young man (although possibly by people who would have been beheaded if they hadn’t said so).
"People have said Henry VIII didn’t look like me. Fair enough. But no critic can tell me that how I play Henry isn’t right, because I play him a hell of a lot closer to history than people admit. He was an egotistical, spoilt brat, born with the arrogance that everything he had in this world was his by right.”
August Rush is a very different proposition. It’s the story of a singer in an Irish rock band (Rhys Meyers) and a sheltered cellist (Keri Russell), who have a magical one-night stand.Their love-child (Freddie Highmore), a musical prodigy who is raised in an orphanage in secret, is determined to reunite them in New York. It’s a gentle, mystical film about the ability of music to connect.
“I get to be a musician and it’s a big commercial film that shows a lighter side to me."I learnt the guitar and sang all the songs myself, and I was able to play somebody who was compassionate and who was looking for that first rush."There’s always that girl or that guy you didn’t spend enough time with. "Maybe you’re sitting in a cafe and you see this beautiful girl or this beautiful guy, and you never see them again, but they stay with you. I completely believe in love at first sight.”
Rhys Meyers says he leads a simple life in LA, where he now lives. “I have a house in the hills, I go to the gym, I go to restaurants.My life hasn’t changed. It’s a job some people deem as glamorous and, I admit, there are certain amounts of glamour in that life, but there’s an awful lot of an actor’s life that isn’t glamorous. I get up at 5.30am and spend most of my time in caravans in obscure locations, shooting 12 hours a day. It’s much harder than people realise. I don’t see myself as a big moviestar at all.”
Given that he has been talking about percentages, audience share, and his career strategies, this last comment is a bit disingenuous and doesn’t tally with his frequent star turns in the tabloids.But he has worked so hard and overcome so much to get where he is, he isn’t going to complain. You have to take that as part and parcel, so when you’ve done good things in your life, they’re going to promote it and when you’ve done bad, your life is going to (come) under fire. "There are certain things you can get away with when you’re anonymous that you can’t get away with when you are not. You have to be more cautious.”
Given that the Dublin Airport episode was soon to be flashed around the world, he might have thought about taking his own advice.
But then, he is a complex, contradictory fellow – not your average bland, politically correct moviestar.
You can’t help wondering if his hunger for his work is a way of avoiding pain. Yet, underneath it all, Rhys Meyers is clever, honest, engaging and vulnerable, and you hope his recent success will go some way towards making it all better.
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