By Adrian Lobb
Claire Foy plays Anne Boleyn in the BBC2 adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, alongside Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis and Mark Gatiss
Are you filming anything at the moment?
No, I’m not working. Just pottering around the house. We are attempting to sell our flat and there is crap everywhere. Oh, gosh, it is so boring. We have a baby imminently on the way as well. Perfect timing. We planned it all really well!
How much did you know of Anne Boleyn before you got the role?
I knew as much as everyone else knows, especially anyone who has been to primary school in England where you are taught the ‘divorced beheaded, died’ rhyme. She was always, obviously, the most interesting one. But we have all these ideas of what she is like, that she had six fingers, that she had loads of affairs, that she was a witch and a terrible, terrible wife. That is the impression I got as a seven year old. It is amazing that such crude propaganda lasts that long.
History is famously written by the winners, and I guess Anne didn’t win…
They destroyed so much of her legacy. They got rid of everything. I knew vaguely about her, from watching the Henry VIII with Ray Winstone and Helena Bonham Carter, who is the most amazing Anne Boleyn. And that was everything you imagine – she was sexy, crazy, dangerous. But then I read Wolf Hall and was surprised. She wasn’t at all how she was written by history. She was mean, not very attractive – I thought she was meant to be this massive sexpot! Cromwell finds her attractive in his own way, but he sees her more as a political player than a woman. She was not a woman by his standards, she has very dark hair, she is quite a dark person – not blonde and buxom and shiny like her sister. That is why I loved the books so much, it was so exciting to meet these new people, it was like reading someone’s diary, you were discovering them.
Do you see Wolf Hall, the novel and now the series, as rewriting history or correcting it?
It is Hilary Mantel’s interpretation of what might have happened. She is not taking liberties and changing stories, she is going with the facts and events of the time. You are genuinely looking at what might have happened, and what their psychologies might have been. I was taught as an actor that you start from what you know as factual. What makes her work so amazing is that you feel like it happened. I’m playing the Anne Boleyn that Hilary wrote. Continue reading Claire Foy interview: “Anne Boleyn is the underdog, but she has massive balls…”