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Damian Lewis Says Henry VIII “As Big A Brand As Coca-Cola” – Jan 19, 2015

Damian Lewis Says Henry VIII “As Big A Brand As Coca-Cola,” While Plugging PBS’s ‘Wolf Hall’

Television Critics Association Press Tour, Winter Tour, Panel Discussion

by Lisa de Moraes – Deadline – January 19, 2015

Damian Lewis speaks 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. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

“Henry [VIII] as a brand, is right up there with Coca Cola,” Damian Lewis said, of the oft-portrayed Tudor king he plays in PBS’s six-part miniseries Wolf Hall.  “My vanity will always relish a challenge,” Lewis said, of trying to turn in a fresh performance of the historical figure. “In fact, that probably encourages me.”

Not so fresh, maybe, were his answers to question about his character, on stage this morning at Winter TV Press Tour 2015; his “syphilitic, philandering Elvis” line, in re how Henry VIII is most often perceived/portrayed, is getting a little worn out as Lewis make the press rounds to promote the project.

Lewis is maybe the hottest “get” when seeking someone to talk to about the project, though it actually stars internationally acclaimed actor Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, who became Henry’s closest adviser. Cromwell is the focus of Hilary Mantels novels, on which the miniseries was based, and the Masterpiece project debuting in the spring focuses a bright light on the relationship between Cromwell and Henry’s second wife Ann Boleyn, played by Claire Roy. “Spoiler alert – Ann Boleyn dies at the end,” director Peter Kosminsky joked.

Rylance said this morning Cromwell “reminded me at times of Robert Duvall in The Godfather films. “He was around very violent people, dangerous people,” and learned it was “best not to speak unless spoken to and to be careful what you say.”

Kosminsky called Cromwell’s political career “the beginning of modern government.” He was the first civil servant, the director explained  – a man who did not come from aristocracy or the church, and was instead “a blacksmith’s son who grew up to be the second most powerful man in the land, and Henry’s fixer…using Parliament in ways not used before.”

Read the rest of the original article at Deadline