Categories Behind the Scenes Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Hilary Mantel Adaptation with Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance – Jan 10, 2015

Wolf Hall: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Hilary Mantel Adaptation with Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance

The BBC’s star-studded new tale of Tudor intrigue, Wolf Hall, is set to be one of the television events of the year. Ahead of the series, Gaby Wood joined the cast on set.

by Gabby Wood – The Telegraph – 10 January 2015

Stand by for a take, please. And we’re turning. Quiet, please. And action.’ Live trumpets sound at the entrance to Bristol Cathedral, before the heavy doors open to reveal Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn, silhouetted against the sunlight. Guards in red capes and gold sculpted breastplates frame her as she begins her slow approach down the blue-carpeted aisle towards the altar, her stiff silk train carried by ladies-in-waiting, the bulging belly that will one day be Elizabeth I played by a neat rounded cushion. She proceeds towards the bottom right-hand corner of the shot until she is out of focus. ‘Cut there!’

Damian Lewis, who plays the lesser character of Henry VIII in the adaptation. ‘He comes on occasionally, dazzles, and going away again,’ he says. PHOTO: Ed Miller

On the monitor, a clapperboard marks the take, and a flurry of activity ensues: a blur of taffeta dresses, the back of the director Peter Kosminsky’s head. The shot is replayed, silently. The long blue carpet is moved fractionally to the left. They start again. ‘Stand by for a take, please.’

It is July 3 2014 and Bristol Cathedral is doubling for Westminster Abbey in the BBC’s six-part drama Wolf Hall. Based on both of Hilary Mantel’s novels about the life of Thomas Cromwell – Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies – Kosminsky’s evocative and dazzlingly precise adaptation stars some of Britain’s very best actors and features many of its finest buildings, and is destined to be one of the most talked-about series on television this year.

The event depicted today – the coronation of Anne Boleyn – took place on June 1, 481 years before these cameras started rolling, and the filmmakers’ attempts to mirror the occasion have stretched not only to authentically made clothes and historically accurate settings but also – as a visiting Tudor expert notes with approval – to the use of tallow candles rather than wax. It is a mark of their attention to detail that the production’s candle budget runs to tens of thousands of pounds.

Kosminsky is spinning plates; the coronation scene shoot is, as he will later recall, ‘a particularly challenging day’. All his principal actors are here – Claire Foy, Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis – and they are under attack from paparazzi. Kosminsky feels it is his job to protect them. ‘If they are anxious I am anxious,’ he explains. He is also filming with two cameras rather than one, so there is a larger crew. It is a big crowd day – 138 extras who have to be ferried from a car park dressed in heavy costumes (velvet hats, fur gilets, French hoods) and who will later be replicated using CGI to seem like 1,000. He knows that his regular team – the costume designer Joanna Eatwell and production designer Pat Campbell – are under enormous pressure.

Read the rest of the original article at The Telegraph