Latest News • Damian Lewis on playing Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
sami   Mar 28, 2015   Billions, Wolf Hall

source:new york daily news

Four hundred and sixty-eight years after his death, Henry VIII remains hard to beat as the most famous British king ever.

That doesn’t mean, says Damian Lewis, that we really get him – despite the widespread and not inaccurate agreement that he ate a little too much saturated fat and he discarded wives the way teenage girls discard yesterday’s fashion styles.

Lewis plays Henry VIII in “Wolf Hall,” the six-hour BBC Two adaptation of the best-selling novel by Hilary Mantel and its companion work, “Bring Up the Bodies.”

“Wolf Hall” premieres April 5 on PBS in the States and runs Sundays through May 10.

“Henry VIII was a Renaissance rock star,” says Lewis. “But he was also a very accomplished, intelligent man. He loved history, archery, dancing. He was an architect. He spoke several different languages.

“I think we’ll show people a better-rounded Henry than they may think they know.”

Henry will also have a more filled-out colleague in Thomas Cromwell, who is the main character in the show and who functioned as the rough 16th century equivalent of Henry VIII’s chief of staff.

He was the fixer, the man who got things done — under the subtle but significant pressure of knowing he could be exiled or worse if he failed.

Played by Mark Rylance, Cromwell is a brilliant enigma, a lawyer who understands the intricate and ultrahigh-stakes game of chess that was palace politics.

“Cromwell was described as one who looks like a wall,” says Rylance. “People never knew what he was thinking. He was a man who folded his arms.”

Rylance plays him accordingly, with a less-is-more approach that reflects Cromwell’s technique for serving a decent, but impulsive and unforgiving ruler.

Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall

 

I think Cromwell wanted to do good,” says Rylance. “But he was surrounded by dangerous people, so the crucial issue was how he navigated that.

“To do good, he had make some compromises. It’s not for me to judge whether he was a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ man, but remember, he came from humble beginnings. He was a blacksmith’s son. So I think he was sympathetic with real people.”

Also critical was a warning passed to Cromwell by his predecessor and mentor, Cardinal Wolsey.

“What Wolsey told him,” says Lewis, “was ‘Be careful what you put in the king’s ear, because once it is there, he will fixate on it.’”

That was no small concern when dealing with matters like Henry’s obsession with having his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled so he could marry Anne Boleyn — who is played here by Claire Foy.

When the Pope wouldn’t go along, Henry declared himself head of the Church of England, enabling him to annul the marriage himself.

This was less a theological coup d’etat, says Lewis, than a practical strategy for getting what he wanted.

“He was struck by Anne,” says Lewis. “But he also just wanted a normal life. He didn’t want marriages arranged for political alliances. He wanted something romantic. He wanted a courtship, like most other people had.”

Nor was it only in love, suggests Lewis, that Henry secretly envied some of lower-born subjects.

He wanted some of the things that he saw ordinary people had,” says Lewis. “He wanted to be part of a group of like-minded people who shared hs interests and whom he could talk with.

When you’re the king, selected by God, that’s hard.”

Lewis, 44, is best known in the U.S. for playing Nicholas Brody on Showtime’s “Homeland.” He won an Emmy and a Golden Globe and yes, he says, that’s still the main reason he gets stopped on the streets here.

“People will shout, ‘Brody!’” he says. “Maybe it will never stop. That’s a nice thing. Although I know Alec Guinness complained that some people only knew him as Obi Wan Kenobi.”

After “Wolf Hall” airs, Lewis will be heading back to Showtime for a series called “Billions,” a contemporary drama in which he will play a high-powered New York hedge fund manager who squares off again Paul Giamatti’s U.S. attorney.Episode 101

 

article source:

http://m.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/damian-lewis-henry-viii-wolf-hall-pbs-article-1.2163339

sami   Mar 27, 2015   Wolf Hall

With the beginning of the end for AMC’s Mad Men, the debut of NBC’s Biblical A.D. andAmerican Odyssey plus the premiere of The Lizzie Borden Chronicles on Lifetime, Easter Sunday’s primetime is a very crowded place this year. Among the offerings, I recommend in the review that you check yourself into Wolf Hall on April 5. The six-part series onPBS’ Masterpiece provides some very compelling television.

Based on Hilary Mantel’s award-winning novels and executive-produced by former HBO Films boss Colin Call Callender.

With former Homeland star Damian Lewis in regal form as the much-married King and acclaimed theatre actor Mark Rylance excelling as conniving courtier Thomas Cromwell, this is an old story, literally and figuratively, made anew with wonderful results. As history tells us, Henry wanted a new wife to have a male heir and the lowborn but Reformation-inclined Cromwell did everything for the King and himself to fulfill that desire. The result: The Church of England and the king’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, played here by Claire Foy. We all know how this ends but the path revealed in this fictional account is a golden one.

I personally couldn’t get enough of Jonathan Pryce as the ultimately doomed, vain and fawning Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Already set for the upcoming season of HBO’s blockbuster Game Of Thrones, which debuts on April 12, Pryce’s Wolsey is a delight as a man who thinks he has a gilded spoon for his political soup only to discover he’s holding a lead fork.

A huge hit for the BBC when it aired earlier this year.

Wolf Hall was adapted for the small screen by Peter Straughan and directed by Peter Kosminsky. Callender is EP for his Playground, John Yorke for Company Pictures, Polly Hill for BBC Two, Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece, Martin Rakusen for BBC Worldwide, and Tim Smith for Prescience and Altus Productions.

souce: deadline.com

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mokulen   Mar 26, 2015   Interviews

When Damian Lewis was summoned to Buckingham Palace to receive his OBE — awarded for services to acting — he decided to treat himself to a new morning suit.

He hadn’t worn one since his school days at Eton, where it is the uniform, but as he would be receiving his honour from Prince William, himself an Old Etonian, he thought it would be an appropriate reminder. ‘I had it made by a Jermyn Street tailor called Favourbrook, but as I’d spent five years at Eton wearing a black morning suit, I had my new one made up in blue material,’ he says.

‘And when I met the Duke of Cambridge at the Palace, I told him: ‘I hope you don’t mind that this is navy blue, Your Royal Highness — I didn’t want you to think I was just showing up in my old school uniform.’ And, quick as a flash, he said (ever the actor, Damian tightens his jaw and drops into a perfect imitation of the clipped royal tones): ‘Well, I should think that would be a bit tight for you by now, wouldn’t it!’

‘And then he stuck the medal on my chest and said, ‘Nice to see you, Damian, we’re great fans, Catherine and I.’ And off I trotted home.
‘Now I’ve been given a gong, I feel like I have been made a school prefect, so I can’t misbehave.’

Not that the impeccably mannered and well-brought-up Lewis is likely to stray off the straight and narrow. If he has a problem, he says, it is his children realising that their father and mother, actress Helen McCrory, are, well, a bit different to other parents due to their day jobs. ‘The street posters don’t make things easy. There was one huge hoarding of me to advertise my TV thriller series Homeland near our home in London.

‘We drive the children to school and it’s only a ten-minute journey, but there’s always a jam at the same traffic light every morning — you know, that achingly frustrating 15 minutes when you’re stuck in traffic trying to travel 100 yards to get your kids to school.

‘Of course, the jam would have to be opposite this 40ft-wide poster of me that was there for about six months.

‘I kept distracting the children from it by changing the radio and talking about anything I could think of, and for three months it worked. Then one morning, my son Gulliver looked up and said: ‘Dad! There’s a huge picture of you on the wall!’ ‘

It was, he admits, the conversation he and Helen had been trying with all their might to avoid.

He says: ‘The children know what Helen and I do for a living, because they come on film sets and meet the crew. They don’t really understand what acting is, because what on earth does acting mean to a child — or to anyone, quite frankly?

‘We tell them we are storytellers because that’s something they understand, that we get paid to tell stories and that makes us very lucky. But very occasionally, one of them will look at me and say, ‘You’re famous, aren’t you Dad?’ And that’s a conversation we try to move on from, it isn’t healthy for anyone.’

It is a subject that will only become more difficult to avoid as far as Damian’s children, Manon, nine, and Gulliver, eight, are concerned.

In the past decade and a half, between being cast as the upright Richard Winters in Band Of Brothers, the grasping Soames in The Forsyte Saga, the conflicted Nicholas Brody in Homeland and, most recently, Henry VIII in Wolf Hall — ‘looking like a beautiful big bumble bee,’ he notes, affectionately — Damian has been a part of some of television’s most visible and successful series.

Now he’s about to hit the small screen again in Billions, a drama series set in the world of New York high finance, in which he will play ruthless hedge fund dealer Bobby ‘Axe’ Axelrod, who clashes with U.S. attorney Chuck Rhoades (played by Paul Giamatti) in a 12-episode battle of wits that reputedly will make Homeland look like a vicar’s tea party.

It is likely to be screened in the UK early next year.

mokulen   Mar 26, 2015   The Silent Storm, Video

 

If you haven’t seen them yet, check out these 2 preview clips from the film:
 

 

mokulen   Mar 26, 2015   Gallery

Damian Lewis at the BBC Films' 25th Anniversary Reception

Gallery Link:

2015/03/25 BBC Film’ 25 Anniversary Reception