The Surprising Truth Behind The Cast Of The Tudors

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Annabelle Wallis As Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour is often considered to be the favorite wife of Henry VIII for two simple reasons. For starters, she was the only wife who was able to give him his long sought after son. Second is the simple fact that Jane Seymour was the only wife who died of natural causes while married to him, which only served to deepen his grief. Had she lived longer, it’s likely she would have fallen out of favor like her two predecessors.

Annabelle Wallis In Real Life

Annabelle Wallis may be known as an English actress, but in truth, she spent much of her life living in Portugal. Perhaps best known for her role as the short-lived queen in The Tudors, Wallis returned to the world of English television in 2013 when she was cast in Peaky Blinders, a role she played through 2016. These days, she may be spending her time with the A-list actor, Chris Pine, who is most frequently associated with his roles in Star Trek and Wonder Woman.

Sarah Bolger As Mary Tudor

A precursor to the ever popular Game of ThronesThe Tudors brought the real-life court drama of King Henry VIII to our screens in vivid detail. Mary Tudor, King Henry VIII’s first daughter, seemed to get the short end of the stick for most of her life, but she’d have the last laugh when she became queen.

Sarah Bolger In Real Life

Sarah Bolger, a native of Ireland, has been impressing audiences with her performances since she made her big-screen debut in 2002 alongside her real-life sister in In America. She returned to the life of a princess only a few years after wrapping The Tudors, when she joined the cast of Once Upon a Time as Princess Aurora. For the better part of the past year, Bolger has been spending time in Mexico where she was shooting the series Mayans M.C.

Tamzin Merchant As Catherine Howard

Catherine Howard may be the only wife of Henry’s who deserved the decapitation he ordered, given that she was caught having an affair with Henry’s attendant, Thomas Culpepper. Then again, considering Henry’s continuous infidelity, the outrage stemmed from the social mores of the era, which punished women for engaging in the same behavior as men. It wasn’t Catherine’s fault that by the time they married, Henry was too old to keep up with his younger wife.

Tamzin Merchant In Real Life

Tamzin Merchant may be known as being a blonde bombshell in her personal life, with professional credits that also include the TV series Salem and Supergirl, but it’s a little-known fact that she was the original actress cast to play Daenerys Targaryen in the hit fantasy drama, Game of Thrones. Despite filming the pilot in the role, Merchant was replaced with Emilia Clarke before the series began to air. However, Merchant will soon be seen as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Pádraic Delaney As George Boleyn

Anne Boleyn’s beloved brother, George, was an integral part in both the Queen consort’s rise to power as well as her demise. With Anne as their tool, George often engages in the game his father played to increase the family’s profile, which, of course, ends in tragedy. As Anne’s favor begins to fall in the eyes of the king, so did George’s. In the end, the two were executed together, as George was a pawn in Anne’s trial.

Pádraic Delaney In Real Life

Pádraic Delaney’s break out role came only a year before he landed the role of George Boleyn in The Tudors when he gave an outstanding performance in the Irish film, The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Despite his early success in film and television, Delaney has always stayed close to the stage, frequently performing in both London’s West End and on Broadway. In the past year, Delaney has gone back even further in time to play a medieval knight.

Joss Stone As Anne Of Cleves

Anne of Cleves was probably the luckiest of all of Henry’s six wives, as he found her too ugly to continue his marriage, and had their union annulled after only six months. Anne’s story might sound unfair, but the truth is, she was a political win for Henry, and she was lucky enough to escape his increasingly foul moods with the annulment of their marriage. Moreover, because she didn’t resist Henry’s efforts to rid himself of her, he gave her a castle.

Joss Stone In Real Life

Joss Stone isn’t frequently thought of as an actress, as her music career has always been her priority, but for a fleeting moment, she stepped in front of the camera to play Henry VIII’s fourth wife in The Tudors. After her television debut, Stone was more than happy to return to the stage with more of her award-winning soul music. Throughout her career, she has become the best-selling, British recording artist of her era.

Joely Richardson As Catherine Parr

Catherine Parr, Henry’s final wife, managed to outlast him partially by pragmatism, and partially by the fact that Henry died before he could tire of her. By the time they married, Henry was far from the dashing young king he’d once been, but nevertheless, Catherine did her best to please him. Ultimately, she became something more like his nurse, though both had deep respect for one another. Furthermore, Catherine was a competent step-mother to Henry’s estranged children.

Joely Richardson In Real Life

If Joely Richardson seems to have regal blood, it’s likely because she comes from acting royalty, given that her mother is the esteemed Vanessa Redgrave, and her sister was the late Natasha Richardson. Like the rest of her family, Joely is also an accomplished stage actress, though she hasn’t let that get in the way of an illustrious film career. Richardson has already appeared in two films this year, In Darkness and Red Sparrow, which starred Jennifer Lawrence.

Sam Neill As Cardinal Thomas Wolsey

At the start of the series, King Henry seems to be under the thumb of the conniving archbishop, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. As many others would find in the early years of Henry’s reign, Wolsey may have had the king’s ear for a brief moment, but that influence wouldn’t save him when he couldn’t manage to get Henry what he wanted. Wolsey was decidedly not devout for a man of the church. Rather than lose his head, Wolsey died before his trial.

Sam Neill In Real Life

Sam Neill might have acted as an integral cog in the grind of English history, but his real-life background is more Kiwi than English. In 2014, Neill took his talents to Birmingham when he appeared in the drama Peaky Blinders. More recently, he has taken part in one installment from the Marvel machine, when he portrayed Actor Odin in the 2017 film, Thor: Ragnarok. Since then Neill has been focusing more on big screen projects, rather than television.

Gabrielle Anwar As Princess Margaret

Princess Margaret might have been King Henry’s sister, but it seemed the siblings had little love for one another, especially after Henry marries Margaret off to the elderly King of Portugal. During the journey to her new home, she began an affair with the king’s best friend, Charles Brandon, whom she would later marry without Henry’s approval. In the TV show, Margaret dies not long after her second wedding, after a brief, but unhappy marriage.

Gabrielle Anwar In Real Life

Though Gabrielle Anwar’s arc on The Tudors was short-lived, it was in part due to the fact that she was offered a role in the series Burn Notice, which she would star in until 2013. After a brief hiatus when Burn Notice wrapped, Anwar was ready to return to a land of make-believe, when she took on the role of Lady Repunzal Tremaine on the fantasy series, Once Upon a Time between 2017 and 2018.

Maria Doyle Kennedy As Queen Catherine Of Aragon

At the start of the events depicted in The Tudors, Catherine of Aragon was already falling out of favor with her younger husband, who was desperate for a woman to give him a male heir. Catherine and Henry had a complicated start to their relationship, as Catherine had previously been married to Henry’s older brother. As she refused to simply let Henry put her aside in favor of a new queen, Catherine’s later years became very difficult.

Maria Doyle Kennedy In Real Life

Maria Doyle Kennedy may have portrayed a dark-haired, Spanish-born queen, but in truth, she was born and raised in Ireland, while Catherine of Aragon was said to have auburn hair. From 2011, Maria starred in the Irish series, Corp & Anam as Mairéad Mhic Iarnáin until 2014. She then moved over to Orphan Black where she played Siobhan Sadler through 2017. Most recently, Maria has been depicting George Cusack in the Irish legal drama called Striking Out.

Emma Hamilton As Anne Seymour

Though Anne Seymour was never quite a major player in the King’s affairs, she is still closely tied to him through her husband, Edward Seymour, who is eventually appointed to be one of the young King Edward’s advisors by the dying King. Anne is much like the other court personalities in that she is often unfaithful to her husband, which seems to be par for the course in the televised version of Henry’s court.

Emma Hamilton In Real Life

The Australian-born Emma Hamilton had no trouble stepping into the role of an English lady, one of her first major professional roles. Hamilton would later return to the court of an English king when she was cast as the queen in a televised production of Shakespeare’s Richard II. In 2016, Hamilton earned two extended arcs, first on Mr. Selfridge as Rosie Dolly, and then on Hyde & Seek, where she played Claire McKenzie. Her most recent role was in Fearless.

Jamie Thomas King As Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt may have been a teenager’s fantasy until of course, he had to stand up to the dream of marrying the king. The poet was a former flame of Anne Boleyn who she maintained in her confidence, even once their affair moved into a more platonic realm. Even so, her past with him would come back to bite her, though she was the one who had moved on, and he was the one who still loved her.

Jamie Thomas King In Real Life

King’s portrayal of the sensual poet seems to be a character that isn’t entirely unfamiliar to the real King, given that he is not only an actor but also a skilled painter. Since exiting from The Tudors, King had the luck to continue earning roles on American TV shows, including a guest spot on the highly acclaimed Mad Men. In 2011, King earned a role in the miniseries Marchlands, where he played Paul Bowen. He was most recently in The Originals.

Rebekah Wainwright As Catherine Brandon

Following Margaret Tudor’s death, Charles Brandon decides to marry his teenage ward, Catherine. The two embark on a sometimes rocky marriage, though Catherine is often seen forgiving Charles for his infidelities. As the years pass by, however, Charles’ unwillingness to defy Henry’s often unjust orders causes their marriage even more strain, as Charles participates in a series of violent actions. This eventually leads to Catherine keeping her distance from her husband by the last season of the series.

Rebekah Wainwright In Real Life

Rebekah Wainwright seemed to have beginner’s luck when she was cast in her first television role as the recurring character of Catherine Brandon. The Tudors gave Wainright a good head start, helping her to earn roles in the 2008 miniseries, The Roaring Twenties. After The Tudors, Rebekah moved on to several film roles, including Opus K and How To Be Happy. In 2016, she enjoyed an extended arc in the TV series Guilt. These days, she can be seen in Royally Ever After.

Anthony Brophy As Ambassador Eustace Chapuys

The Ambassador Bishop Eustace Chapuys had a tough role cut out for him, especially given the unpredictable path Henry VIII would take. As the ambassador to England for the Holy Roman Empire, Chapuys would soon find his work at odds with the desires of the king, who would eventually move away from Catholicism. This pit Chapuys against Anne Boleyn, as he was a clear supporter of the Catholic queen, who furthered his monarch’s goals.

Anthony Brophy In Real Life

Anthony Brophy may have been playing a character from the continent, but in his real life, the actor could hardly be more British. He was a well-established presence on TV when he came to The Tudors. Following the show’s conclusion, he began finding small roles in a smattering of other TV shows, before ultimately being cast in Red Rock, where he played Liam Reid for two years. Beginning in 2018, Brophy made his debut in the series Vikings.

Perdita Weeks As Mary Boleyn

Mary Boleyn may have been the older sister, but it was quickly clear that the court beauty had none of the wiles of her younger sister. When Anne is first introduced to King Henry, it is through her sister Mary, who was his current paramour. After being discarded in favor of Anne, Mary manages to save her neck by fading into obscurity after making an embarrassing marriage with William Stafford, who was of a lower social rank than the Boleyns.

Perdita Weeks In Real Life

In a show filled with acting newcomers, Perdita Weeks was one of the youngest to have had an established career long before joining the cast of The Tudors. When she completed her run as Mary Boleyn, she immediately moved to the miniseries, Lost in Austen. Weeks has found herself working consistently over the past several years, but most recently made a feature film breakthrough with her role in Ready Player One, which debuted on the big screen earlier this year.

Nick Dunning As Thomas Boleyn

The mastermind behind the rise of his family, Thomas Boleyn let his aspirations for power ultimately harm his family. All three of his children became intimately involved in the affairs of court, but for the younger Anne and George, that influence would also ultimately spell their end. Thomas’ ambitions paralleled his daughter’s, which helped him gain a place in the governing of the country, at least for a short period of time. Though he also fell out of favor, his punishment was only banishment.

Nick Dunning In Real Life

An actor with plenty of distinguished gravitas, Nick Dunning has been a presence on the screen since the early 1980s. To follow up his role in The Tudors, Dunning took back to back film roles in Fifty Dead Men Walking and Triage. Though Dunning has spent plenty of time exploring England’s history on screen, he has also taken roles in historical American settings. From 2013 to 2015, he appeared in Da Vinci’s Demons. Since 2017, he’s been working on Striking Out.

Max Brown As Edward Seymour

If Thomas Boleyn was the driving force behind his family’s rise to power, Edward Seymour was the ambition driving the rise of the Seymours. He found his position significantly elevated in the aftermath of the Boleyn affair, especially when Henry chose his sister Jane to be his next wife. Much of Edward’s conniving on the show is depicted as being purely for the benefit of the family, whether or not it was beneficial to the individuals themselves, like Jane.

Max Brown In Real Life

It seems Max Brown has had a hard time leaving behind the life of a courtier, as he has subsequently appeared in other shows with a similar theme. From 2012 until 2016, Brown made a number of appearances as Dr. Evan Marks in the series Beauty and the Beast. Before even making his final appearance on the show, Brown went back to court with the beginning of his role on The Royals, where he has played the fictional King Robert through today.

Henry Cavill As Charles Brandon

Charles Brandon was introduced to The Tudors from the very start as one of King Henry’s closest friends. The two seemed to have similar habits with regards to women, as they both often found their eyes wandering to whoever was new and beautiful. On the show, Brandon fell out of favor with the king after marrying his sister Margaret without permission, but the two would eventually come to reconcile after Margaret’s death from tuberculosis.

Henry Cavill In Real Life

Prior to being cast in The Tudors, the dashing Henry Cavill was slowly building up credits in other historical and fantastical films. It was his role as Charles Brandon throughout the duration of the Showtime series that brought him attention, however, which led to him being cast as Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel. Cavill has reprised his superhero role several times, which eventually came into conflict with his latest role in the new Mission Impossible installment.

James Frain As Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell may have risen to power from near obscurity, having come from humble roots in the working class. Even so, he managed to win outsized influence in the court of Henry VIII, at least during the tumultuous years when Henry was in the midst of trying to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Cromwell was an outspoken Protestant, who helped to convince Henry to embrace the Reformation, but in the end, even Cromwell lost his head.

James Frain In Real Life

James Frain is no stranger to period pieces, having shifted nearly effortlessly from the Tudor court to the preceding century when he was cast in the mini-series, The White Queen as Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who may be better known as The Kingmaker. Frain, of course, has not limited himself to playing Renaissance era schemers, as he also appeared in True Detective and Orphan Black in recent years. These days, you can catch Frain in Star Trek: Discovery.

Natalie Dormer As Anne Boleyn

Perhaps the most integral of all of Henry’s wives, it was Anne Boleyn who drastically altered the course of English history. Portrayed as a charming, but willful young adult, Boleyn is the first of Henry’s lovers to convince him to marry her, rather than simply make her his mistress. It was that demand that led Henry to reject the authority of the Catholic church, though Anne’s strong personality and frequent temper would eventually lead to her decapitation.

Natalie Dormer In Real Life

Natalie Dormer was another actress who made her mark with her role on The Tudors. Several years later, she would return to the world of court scheming when she was cast as Margery Tyrell on the ever-popular fantasy drama, Game of Thrones. Margery may have had a similar modus operandi to Anne, but Dormer’s skill on screen really shone in the way she differentiated the two. These days, you can catch her in the mini-series, Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Jeremy Northam As Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas More was another of Henry’s most influential advisors, especially when it came to Henry’s studies. He more often took the dovish approach to Henry’s desire for international conflict, though he managed to stay in Henry’s good graces for longer than most advisors. More’s downfall would eventually stem from his religion, as he refused to give up Catholicism even as the English Reformation became further reaching. Eventually, More chooses martyrdom rather than compliance.

Jeremy Northam In Real Life

Jeremy Northam would quickly switch gears after ending his run on The Tudors when he accepted a guest arc on the series, Miami Medical. It wouldn’t be long before he returned to the royal life, however, as he appeared as King Charles II in four episodes of 2014’s New Worlds. With three movie roles between 2015 and 2016, it seemed Northam might have made the switch to film until he returned to English court life in The Crown.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers As King Henry VIII

Playing the role of once loved tyrant king is never an easy task, but it’s a role that Rhys Meyers took on with enthusiasm. King Henry VIII is best known for his tumultuous love affairs, for which he destroyed the hold of the Catholic church over England, while nearly destroying the country as well. Known for being athletic and particularly handsome, Henry found that both assets would fade after suffering a severe jousting accident.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers In Real Life

Similar to his on-screen persona, Jonathan Rhys Meyers has often been known as a bad boy, with many rollercoaster relationships and public feuds. Despite his many public outbursts, one of which resulted in detainment by airport police in recent days, Rhys Meyers is publically working on his journey to sobriety and managing his anger. It sounds like Henry VIII’s life story was one all too familiar to the Irish-born actor, which made his depiction even more convincing.

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