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Wolf Hall, Entirely Beloved – TV review: Like Game of Thrones, but without the dragons or White Walkers

Episode 2: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?

Neela Debnath

If last week was the start of this delicate and dangerous game of chess, the players merely assembled and ready, then tonight they begin to make their first moves. Just one step wrong and that could be the end – much like Cardinal Wolsey (Jonathan Pryce) who ends up dead leaving Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance) to find a new master in Henry VIII (Damien Lewis).

Game of Thrones fans tuning in to watch Wolf Hall might notice similarities between the politicking in King’s Landing and Henry VIII’s court – and they wouldn’t be wrong.

George RR Martin was partly inspired by the reign of the English monarch while writing his A Song of Ice and Fire novels, and it’s not hard to see why: this is no boring history lesson, it’s compelling stuff. You really do win or you die at Henry’s court.

The power play keeps us hooked: Cromwell’s “interpretation” of Henry’s dream illustrates perfectly how the lawyer is manipulating the situation to help secure the King’s divorce from his first wife Katherine of Aragon (Joanne Whalley) to clear the way for Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy). Continue reading Wolf Hall, Entirely Beloved – TV review: Like Game of Thrones, but without the dragons or White Walkers

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Wolf Hall: Bring up the bodices … how Tudor costumes of Damian Lewis, Claire Foy and Mark Rylance measure up

Corsets, codpieces and going commando — dressing as a Tudor is quite the costume drama. We pile on the velvet and pull up our tights for a big Wolf ball

Susannah Butter
Guy Pewsey
Joshi Herrmann

There is no requirement to read the book first. Political intrigue combined with the triumvirate of Damian Lewis, Mark Rylance and Claire Foy in a study of a court ruled by ambition and desire make the television adaptation of Wolf Hall an instant Wednesday night watch. But what really grabs us is the costumes. In last night’s episode we saw Mary Boleyn stroking Thomas Cromwell’s Italian grey velvet jacket admiringly. This sumptuous fabric was enough — apparently — to make her forget Cromwell is old enough to be her father.

Meanwhile codpieces and corsets trended on Twitter and Pinterest is humming with mood boards about 16th-century apparel. Even Valentino gave a nod to the era in his Paris couture show yesterday. Everyone wants a Wolf Ball. The prize venue is Hampton Court Palace — which celebrates its 500th anniversary this year with the reopening of the wine fountain and roaring fires designed to roast an entire cow.

With all that in mind, we visited the National Theatre Costume Hire Department, where they are dusting off the bustles in anticipation of a Wolf Hall inspired renaissance for 16th-century themed parties (Downton and Gatsby saw similar boosts in Edwardian and flapper garb).

Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall’s author, says our fascination with the Tudors comes from our ability to recognise ourselves in them. That includes the appeal of getting trussed up in velvet hats and corsets. Jessica Proudman, who dressed us, says no one is immune. “We get corporate clients interested in dressing up — people from Glencore [the commodities giant], investment bankers, people in oil — more often than not it is the men who are dragged in against their will but end up staying here for ages trying on different hats. Some go for the codpieces, although many are scared.” Prices start at £120 for a consultation and rental.

Henry VIII was a powerful man — the look is not to be taken lightly. Wolf Hall costume designer Joanna Eatwell describes the outfits as walking furniture, and Proudman says costumes are made from upholstery fabric. No central heating meant velvet layers were essential and the corridors of power were wide enough for three-dimensional outfits. Whether or not you follow the example of the Tudors and dispense with underwear is up to you. Proudman says knickers were not necessary until the 1920s — when shorter hemlines came in. Continue reading Wolf Hall: Bring up the bodices … how Tudor costumes of Damian Lewis, Claire Foy and Mark Rylance measure up

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Wolf Hall, episode 2, review: ‘magnificent’

The second episode of the BBC’s Wolf Hall was a dizzying spectacle, says Jasper Rees

5 stars

We’re now two hours in and, with a mass of plot to get through, Wolf Hall (BBC Two) is still in no hurry. Though adapted from a wordy source, it has a world of time for silence, for the pregnant spaces between speeches, in which everything and nothing is said.

It goes without saying that Mark Rylance is a master at withholding. In this second episode, both Boleyn girls – poor, pleading Mary (Charity Wakefield) and fearsome, frustrated Anne (Claire Foy) – looked into Thomas Cromwell’s green eyes and waited for the flicker of a response. Only the king got answers, and even he was told what Cromwell wanted him to hear. When the king’s dead brother Arthur visited him in a dream, Cromwell was summoned in the night to put a positive spin on the vision.

The relationship between Cromwell and Henry VIII has grown intimate. As Rylance hovered in the tall shadow of Damian Lewis, not presuming to look him in the eye, was anyone else reminded of The Fast Show’s vertical bromance between Charlie Higson’s diffident country gent and Paul Whitehouse’s wary yokel? Except that here Rylance is performing the seduction, and we’re caught in his web.

The only one with any sway over Cromwell is his sister-in-law Johane (Saskia Reeves). In their understated scenes he sits exposed. “There’s a conversation I shouldn’t have had,” he berated himself after inquiring about her marriage. Soon they were kissing, putting Cromwell in a good enough mood to share anecdotes from his years in Italy. No wonder his boisterous young entourage crowded around.

So far director Peter Kosminsky and scriptwriter Peter Straughan have arranged the narrative as, more or less, a series of conversational jousts. It’s like watching a chess grandmaster go around a room playing 20 challengers at once. The spectacle is dizzying, and the acting magnificent. By the end, as Cromwell was sworn into the Privy Council, the prospect loomed of taking God’s vengeance for Wolsey’s humiliation.

“There’s no need to trouble God,” he muttered. “I’ll take it in hand.” Be warned. In one beautiful tableau Johane snuffed out a roomful of candles. Next week, it won’t be her doing the snuffing.

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Claire Foy admits she was left ’emotional’ over Anne Boleyn death scene in Wolf Hall

ACTORS may be known for masking their emotions well.

By Stephanie Takyi

However Wolf Hall star Claire Foy has revealed she found it hard not to get emotional while filming her character’s death scene.

The 30-year-old TV star plays the second wife of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, in the hit BBC2 drama alongside Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and Damian Lewis as Henry VIII.

During an interview with Radio Times the pregnant actress admitted that the execution scene, in front of 200 extras, was a difficult experience.

“I had to have a bit of a word with myself, because I was feeling very emotional about the whole thing whereas Anne, by all accounts, really kept it all together,” she said. Continue reading Claire Foy admits she was left ’emotional’ over Anne Boleyn death scene in Wolf Hall

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Wolf Hall becomes BBC2’s biggest drama in a decade after attracting 3.9 million

Wolf Hall becomes BBC2’s biggest drama in a decade after attracting 3.9 million

Wolf Hall won’t make its way to PBS’ Masterpiece until April 5, but it did kick off last night on BBC Two in the UK. The six-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning historical fiction novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, bowed to strong ratings and five-star reviews (see trailer below). The series charts the rise of Thomas Cromwell, played by Mark Rylance, from lowly blacksmith’s son to the closest adviser of Tudor king Henry VIII, who is embodied by Damian Lewis. Continue reading Wolf Hall becomes BBC2’s biggest drama in a decade after attracting 3.9 million

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Interview with Damian Lewis, Claire Foy and Mark Rylance, stars of Wolf Hall

By Herts & Essex Observer

From sword-fighting lessons to wince-inducing corsets, every effort was made to ensure BBC Two’s upcoming Tudor epic Wolf Hall was as authentic as possible.

But actor Mark Rylance had one issue on the set of the six-part drama, adapted from Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies.

“The codpieces are too small,” says the star, 54, who plays Henry VIII’s closest advisor Thomas Cromwell. “I think it was a directive from our American producers, PBS – they like small codpieces which always seemed to be tucked away.”

The Kent-born actor clarifies that he “wasn’t personally disappointed” by the accessory, worn in Tudor times at the front of men’s breeches and seen as a symbol of virility. Continue reading Interview with Damian Lewis, Claire Foy and Mark Rylance, stars of Wolf Hall

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Hot TV (Scans) – Mark Rylance stars as Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall

Right-Hand Man — Mark Rylance stars as Thomas Cromwell in an epic new drama.

Looking for something to get your teeth into this month? Well, you’re in luck, because a major adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novels arrives on BBC2 this week and it’s a real animal.

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2015 Winter TCA Tour – Day 13

2015 Winter TCA Tour - Day 13

(L-R) Executive producer Rebecca Eaton, actors Damian Lewis, Mark Rylance, director Peter Kosminsky and executive producer Colin Callender with actress Claire Foy (via satellite) speak onstage during the ‘MASTERPIECE “Wolf Hall”’ panel discussion at the PBS Network portion of the Television Critics Association press tour at Langham Hotel on January 19, 2015 in Pasadena, California.

2015-01-19-pbstcawintertour-wolfhallsession

“If ever there was a masterpiece on ‘Masterpiece,’ this is it,” Rebecca Eaton, exec producer of PBS’ “Masterpiece,” said at Monday’s Television Critics Assn. panel for “Wolf Hall.” The six-part miniseries, based on Hilary Mantel’s book and its sequel “Bring Up the Bodies,” stars “Homeland’s” Damian Lewis, Mark Rylance and Claire Foy.

Lewis, whose character, Nicholas Brody, was killed off in Showtime’s hit, for which he won an Emmy, said King Henry VIII is a part he’s excited to tackle.

“My vanity will always relish a challenge,” Lewis said. “In fact, that probably encourages me.”

Assuring the room of reporters he’s not afraid to take on such a weighty role, Lewis said, “There’s a real opportunity to look differently at a period of history that is loved and well known.” He’s also excited to bring new light to the “syphilitic, philandering Elvis people think [King Henry VIII] is.”

“Henry, as a brand, is right up there with Coca Cola,” Lewis said. “In terms of brand recognition, you have to go look at other things, and I think we have.”

“Wolf Hall,” exec produced by Colin Callender and directed by Peter Kosminsky, debuts on PBS April 5. The drama runs through May 10.

Source: Variety

More from the PBS TCA Winter Press Tour:
Deadline – Damian Lewis Says Henry VIII As Big A Brand As Coca Cola

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Claire Foy on playing Anne Boleyn and getting her head chopped off

Drama Queen – Claire Foy on the trials and tribulations of becoming Anne Boleyn for the television adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

Thanks Chuckie for the exclusive scans.

Please credit or place a link back to our site if you decide to use them and don’t remove our tags. Thanks in advance.

Wolf Hall” starts on BBC Two on Wednesday 21 January at 9pm.

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Wolf Hall’s Damian Lewis: ‘We try to give a more varied portrait of Henry VIII’

THE Homeland star plays King Henry VIII in Wolf Hall, a gripping new BBC drama that reassesses the role of one of history’s arch-villains, Thomas Cromwell

By Vicki Power

Packed with intrigue, sex, scandal, royals and seismic change, the tumultuous tale of how King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church in order to marry his second wife, Anne Boleyn, is one of the most thrilling in our history.

It’s no surprise that the story has been rendered on film and television dozens of times and its cast of characters are as well known to us as the Mitchells on EastEnders.

But this week we’ll hear a different spin on the tale. BBC1’s lavish new drama Wolf Hall tells this chunk of English history solely from the viewpoint of Henry’s ruthless right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell.

It’s based on Hilary Mantel’s 2009 Booker Prize-winning historical novel of the same name, in which she controversially recast Cromwell not as the arch-villain of history but as a sympathetic, suave and brilliant fixer to the king whose actions are understandable even when they are incredibly brutal.

“I like stories where people change. And this character changes a lot.” – Mark Rylance

Acclaimed theatre star Mark Rylance tackles the role of Cromwell, with Damian Lewis as the capricious Henry VIII and Little Dorrit’s Claire Foy as ambitious queen-to-be Anne Boleyn.

In the first episode we meet Cromwell as a happily married father of three before he goes to work for Henry VIII. As legal secretary to Cardinal Wolsey (Jonathan Pryce), the former Lord Chancellor, Cromwell is trying to get his beleaguered master restored to the King’s good favour. Wolsey has been cast out after failing to get the Pope to agree to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

Henry wants to marry Anne and produce a male heir – Henry and Catherine’s only surviving child is Mary, later Queen (or Bloody) Mary. Also, tragedy strikes the Cromwell household as a fatal epidemic claims the lives of his wife, Elizabeth, and two young daughters.

Rylance, best known for his 1995-2005 stint as artistic director of London’s Globe Theatre, says he was drawn to the part after his wife, musical director and composer Claire van Kampen, praised the books to him. “I like stories where people change,” he says. “And this character changes a lot.” Continue reading Wolf Hall’s Damian Lewis: ‘We try to give a more varied portrait of Henry VIII’

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Actress Claire Foy talks about her character Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall

By Czarina Nicole O. Ong

Actress Claire Foy has been given the role of Anne Boleyn in the BBC 10-episode series Wolf Hall, and she talks about the challenges she encountered portraying the infamous love of King Henry VIII of England.

“The more auditions I did, the more I didn’t know who she was,” Foy told The Independent. But she did try her best in understanding the workings of her mind in order to give a better, more honest portrayal of the queen who lost her head.

“Anne didn’t see any limitations in what she could achieve. She saw that she was very bright and could charm people, even if they hated her. Her real downfall was that she couldn’t leave well enough alone: she was supposed to be silent and graceful and admired, but wouldn’t be that ethereal figure. She wanted to be in the thick of it.”

But understanding Boleyn wasn’t even half of her challenge. Her pregnancy, of course, made it difficult for the actress to get into character because of all the hormones acting up.

“I’m normally very focused, especially if it’s an emotional scene,” Foy said. “But I was sitting going: there’s nothing happening here, I’m completely dead inside. I thought I’d lost the ability to act. When I did realize I was pregnant and that my hormones were going slightly mad, I couldn’t tell anyone. The costumes were hot and tight, but I couldn’t complain so I was just angry with everyone all the time.”

Despite her emotions, what Foy wanted, of course, was for the audience to be completely enamored by the show, the same way she was with Pride and Prejudice.

“As a teenager I watched Pride and Prejudice with my cousins every weekend under the duvet, and made no connection to literature or anything,” she recalled. “I was just completely involved. I’d love it if people responded to this in the same way.”

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Claire Foy on Wolf Hall – Time for a little history.

By Teddy Jamieson

The actress Claire Foy plays Anne Boleyn in the new BBC historical drama series Wolf Hall. But how’s her own knowledge of the Tudor era? Let’s test her. Complete this sentence, Claire. “Henry the Eighth was a …”

“A bit of a tyrant, I think,” Foy says, smiling, as we sit in an office in central London. “He was like the perfect king. He was tall. He was strong. He had red hair.”

Red hair? Maybe that’s why the BBC chose Damien Lewis to play him in this new adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novel.

“He was the most English, virile bloke,” Foy continues. “He was amazing at all sports. But he really did do some incredibly dubious, sly, untoward things. He was a kid really. He couldn’t deal with the consequences of any of his decisions. He got other people to do everything for him. And how could you sentence your wife to death and meanwhile be in the country romancing another girl and never think about her? It shows how tyrannical he could be.”

So, we’re agreed then Claire. Henry the Eighth was a sociopath. “Yes, I think that’s definitely the word. But then saying that, he was incredibly charming and gregarious.”

Do we know that though? Who would have dared tell the King he was being rude? Yeah, Foy agrees. “He could just have been horrible and flatulent. But Damien was very charming.”

So what can have we learned? Perhaps that Damien Lewis does not fart on set. Good to know. We’ve also learned that Claire Foy has done her research about the Tudors. She was a big fan of Mantel’s novel even before she was approached to appear in Peter Kosminsky’s new drama. The star of TV dramas Little Dorrit and Promises was worried that she wouldn’t be able to play Anne because, having read the book, she didn’t actually like her very much.

Even now, she admits, it’s difficult to understand Boleyn’s actions. “A lot of the stuff she did I just couldn’t get my head around. She’s really religious but she is incredibly cruel to people and if something’s wrong she deliberately takes it out on other people straight away. She just instantly lashes out. Continue reading Claire Foy on Wolf Hall – Time for a little history.

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Claire Foy talks about playing Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall

Claire Foy has admitted that dressing up in period costume for new drama Wolf Hall isn’t as glamorous as it might seem.

The Upstairs Downstairs actress plays Anne Boleyn, eventual wife of Henry VIII (Damian Lewis), in the new BBC Two drama.

“In the first few weeks, the dresses were magical and amazing,” the 30-year-old said.

“But then it gets to July and you’re in a stately home, not able to drink water, sit down, not really able to breathe, and you’re regretting asking for the corset to be so tight in the fitting,” she said of filming the Tudor epic.

Claire found her character, in the adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, more sympathetic than the “cliched Anne Boleyn version” she learnt about in school.

“She is this amazingly strong woman living in this man’s world, and she has [traditionally] got to be seen as hormonal and a bit mad,” she said.

“I felt a lot of compassion for this woman. She was an incredible character with such spirit and an amazing person to be around, but she was too much of a powerful opponent for Cromwell, so she had to go.”

Wolf Hall begins on BBC Two on Wednesday, January 21.

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Radio Times (Scans) – Wolf Hall: Damian Lewis & Hilary Mantel on 2015’s biggest drama

He’s one of history’s great villains. So how did the author of Wolf Hall turn Thomas Cromwell into Henry VIII’s hero?

[…]

“The fall of Anne Boleyn is the subject of Bring Up the Bodies, my second Cromwell novel. The novel, and the TV retelling, ends with her execution. Why revisit some of the best-known events in English history? It seemed to me that at the core of the story there was something missing. There was a moving area of darkness where Cromwell ought to be. Much studied by academic historians, he appears in popular history as an all-purpose, pre-packaged villain. In fiction and drama he’s just off the page or in the wings, doing something nefarious: but what? I wanted to put the spotlight on him; more than that, I wanted to get behind his eyes, the eyes of a man obscurely born, and watch as his country shapes itself about him, a dazzle of possibility.” — Hilary Mantel

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The Tudor godfather: Henry VIII’s court was as brutal as any Mafia clan

By Daphne Lockyer

A pale and dignified Anne Boleyn picks her way across the rough terrain in elegant little shoes, en route to her own execution.

Above her the sky is growing darker and more ominous by the moment. The blustery wind ripples through her ermine cape and buffets the skirts of her damask gown – its deep grey colour chosen to neutralise the bright red blood that’s about to flow.

The scaffold itself is a gruesome sight. There’s the executioner, ordered from Calais, and the glint of the 4ft-long sword that will dispatch her.

Before the end, of course, we must hear the famous, final speech – delivered by Anne while kneeling at the block – the one in which this former Queen of England, now dumped, divorced, divested of her title and about to be decapitated on the say-so of her husband Henry VIII, talks of his goodness.

‘I pray God save the King… For a gentler nor a more merciful prince there never was. Oh Lord, have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul,’ she adds, before the blade falls – at which precise moment of filming, the heavens decide to open and the rain begins to fall.

This is one of the pivotal scenes in the BBC’s brilliant six-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s duo of Booker Prize-winning historical novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, starring theatre veteran Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and Damian Lewis as Henry VIII.

Claire Foy, the actress who plays the doomed Boleyn, is still reeling from the execution scene, days later. ‘Everything on that day – including the weather – was just so heightened,’ she explains. Continue reading The Tudor godfather: Henry VIII’s court was as brutal as any Mafia clan

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TV & Satellite Week – 17 January 2015 (Scans) – Damian Lewis and Claire Foy reveal what makes Wolf Hall’s Tudor England different and darker

Power, corruption and lies — Damian Lewis and Claire Foy reveal what makes Wolf Hall‘s Tudor England different and darker.

“I’m not playing Henry as the womanising, syphilitic, genocidal, bloated Elvis character that people probably expect.” — Damian Lewis

[…]

“For example, I’d read stuff about Anne Boleyn having warts and six fingers,” laughs Foy. “Fortunately I wasn’t asked to play her that way”.

As well as that, she was also said to be promiscuous. “Her critics, and there were lots of them, called her ‘The Great Whore’, and claimed she had special tricks in the bedroom that she’d learned in the French court, which was why Henry fell in love with her. But, actually, it’s far more likely that she was a virgin, who kept Henry waiting for five long years.

“She was smart and knew exactly how to play him, although in the end, of course, it didn’t stop him from having her executed,” continues Foy.

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Telegraph Magazine Scans: Games of Throne

Authenticity is everything in the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel’s take of Tudor intrigue, right down to the very last pin on an extra’s costume.

Thanks Chuckie for the exclusive scans.

Please credit or place a link back to our site if you decide to use them and don’t remove our tags. Thanks in advance.

Wolf Hall” starts on BBC Two on Wednesday 21 January at 9pm.