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Afternoon Tea At The British Consulate Celebrating ‘Wolf Hall’

Damian Lewis, Mark Rylance, and director Peter Kosminsky

Damian Lewis attended an afternoon tea at The British Consulate celebrating “Wolf Hall” in Los Angeles on Sunday. Damian will be at the PBS TCA Winter Press Tour presentation being held on Monday. Click below for pictures from Sunday’s event. We’ll have pictures from PBS’s TCA panel on Monday.

Wolf Hall premieres in the US on PBS Sunday, April 5th. Click here for the PBS’s Wolf Hall page.

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2015/01/18 Afternoon Tea At The British Consulate Celebrating “Wolf Hall” Airing On PBS

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Wolf Hall Q&A Interview Panel

Wolf Hall Q&A

Sunday Express TV Editor David Stephenson has uploaded the audio of the Q&A interview panel that was done after a screening of Wolf Hall episode 1 back on December 10th. Damian Lewis, Mark Rylance, Claire Foy, director Peter Kosminsky, writer Peter Straughan, and executive producer Colin Callender were there for the interview. Damian comes in at the 19.08 mark.

Here are a couple write-ups from that Q&A:
The Telegraph – Wolf Hall TV show uses ‘too small’ Tudor codpieces
Deadline – ‘Wolf Hall’ Creatives & Cast On Codpieces, Tudor Politics And Killing Anne Boleyn – Wolf Hall comes to BBC Two
Radio Times – Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky urges the nation not to “p**s away” the BBC

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Damian Lewis: the man who would be king, The Telegraph, January 18, 2015

Damian Lewis: the man who would be king

It’s been a toff life, all right, so who better to play Henry VIII in the keenly awaited ‘Wolf Hall’

Damian Lewis arrives at the Sun Military Awards in Greenwich

Damian Lewis arrives at the Sun Military Awards in Greenwich  Photo: Rex Features
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Wolf Hall’s Damian Lewis: ‘We try to give a more varied portrait of Henry VIII’

Damian Lewis with director Peter Kominsky
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

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.

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.”

History records Cromwell as a low-born runaway who rose through the ranks with cunning and breathtaking ruthlessness, and whose life was tinged with sorrow. “Personal tragedy in his life gives him a certain kind of recklessness, or nihilism, about his own fate,” says Mark, 54. “He’s not particularly attached to anything or anyone. He knows everything can be lost at any moment.”

Mark sides with Hilary Mantel’s revised version of Cromwell in claiming that he did not relish sending many to their deaths, most famously Thomas More, and Anne Boleyn, both on trumped-up charges. “But like a hired protector, he knows that if he doesn’t do it, someone else will,” explains Mark.

Damian Lewis plays Cromwell’s master, the weak, much-married king usually depicted as a bloated womaniser. In the period covered by the drama, the 1530s, however, Henry was still a svelte man with a more humane side to him, explains Homeland star Damian, 43. “What we’re trying to concentrate on a bit is just to give a more varied portrait of Henry,” he explains. “When we see him there’s great variety in his character and his personality. You might see him composing something on the lute, or in a very boyish way dreaming about Jane Seymour.”

But Henry the heartless megalomaniac is about to emerge. “His ability to love and then to simply discard is sociopathic,” says Damian. “That is very damaging to one’s personality over a period of time, which is why I think he became increasingly paranoid, self-indulgent, grandiose and cruel in the last 10 years of his life.”

Anne Boleyn paid the price of Henry’s cruelty by failing to provide him with a male heir – their only child was Elizabeth, later Elizabeth I. Actress Claire Foy struggled to research Anne. “It was difficult because there is no hard evidence or first-hand account of what she was like,” explains Claire, 30.

Moreover, in Wolf Hall, Anne is only seen through Cromwell’s eyes – as imperious, wilful and cunning. “So it was my job to figure out the other side of Anne that you don’t see,” continues Claire. “Like when she is in a scene having a hissy fit, understanding why that might be, as opposed to thinking she is this mad woman.

“I feel incredible compassion towards her because she missed out on people really being able to know her,” says Claire. “It would be amazing to read her letters, or her diaries, and there’s only one letter available to see that she wrote to Henry.”

What helped Claire flesh out the character was donning her costumes, since what is known is that Anne was something of a Tudor fashionista. “Anne was incredibly interested in fashion,” explains Claire. “She really paid attention to detail about her outfit that would make her stand out.”

But acting in Tudor garb wasn’t all that easy for a modern woman, admits Claire. “In the first few weeks it was magical and amazing, 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!”

Filming was carried out at six National Trust properties in the southwest that lend great authenticity to the drama, which is bound to fuel interest in a story that continues to grip us 500 years on.

“The whole idea of divine kings, or of these rulers who lead us, is gripping,” muses Mark. “When we find out what was going on with Kennedy or Clinton, or eventually find out what was going on in Obama’s mind, it’s riveting. We’re fascinated, aren’t we?”

Wolf Hall, wednesday, 9pm, BBC2

Source: Sunday Express

See Also:

Sunday Express – Wolf hall star Damian Lewis: ‘Eton taught me to be king’

Categories Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall, first look review: ‘masterful’

Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance

This lavish BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novels, which starts on Wednesday, brings a fascinating, dangerous world to the screen, says Serena Davies

The landscape of great TV drama has transformed in the past decade. Once the highest quality was considered almost the preserve of British literary adaptations – I, Claudius, Brideshead Revisited, Andrew Davies’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice. But the ascendancy of the American multi-season epics such as The Wire and Mad Men has seen the focus of plaudits shift to the other side of the Atlantic.

Wolf Hall, although filmed with a lavishness that required both UK and US funding, represents a brief but sweet return to what Britain does best. It’s an adaptation of a literary phenomenon, a double header of Booker-prize winning books, Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, that meant their author Hilary Mantel became the first woman to win the award twice. It focuses on a moment in history – Henry VIII’s break from Rome – pivotal to our island story. And it stars Mark Rylance, probably Britain’s greatest living actor, as Mantel’s mysterious protagonist and advisor to the king, Thomas Cromwell. The Tudors it is not.

The first episode proceeds at a stately pace as it introduces us to Cromwell, his family and his close relationship with his patron Cardinal Wolsey (Jonathan Pryce). Director Peter Kosminksy uses close-ups, hand-held cameras, and a constant visual intimacy with Cromwell to bring viewers right into the shadowy halls and corridors he inhabits. We don’t even see the king until the final minutes of the hour.

Kosminsky is working with a masterful script from Peter Straughan. It takes no prisoners intellectually; it is lucid but it is intricate. “Wolsey burns Bibles,” says a character at one point; “[Thomas] More will burn men,” warns Cromwell in response – at a stroke we are told the religious stances of these two huge figures; but at the same time are asked to grapple with the complex nature of Catholic resistance to the Reformation.

Straughan’s words are brought to life by Rylance, steely yet vulnerable, and mesmerically still; a marvellously humane Pryce; and a mercurial and charismatic Damian Lewis as Henry VIII.

Interestingly both this television adaptation and the recent acclaimed RSC stage version take around six hours to tell Mantel’s two stories, yet the plays seemed in a rush, mining their fast-shifting historical tableaux for jokes, rendering Wolsey a buffoon. Faith appeared put on, something exploited for political leverage or personal gain.

In contrast, the TV version is subtle, and takes belief more seriously. One scene near the end of the first episode highlights this. Cromwell has suffered a terrible bereavement. He tells Wolsey the news in a single bald sentence. Wolsey stops short and addresses him for the only time by his Christian name, “Oh Tom,” he says, his restless eyes stilled by sadness. And then, “whom the Lord loveth”. He quotes half a proverb. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” is the longer version – God sends trials to those he loves. He wouldn’t have needed to complete the proverb for Cromwell, nor does Straughan for us. But what does seem complete is Wolsey’s faith in his God. A wrenching scene conveyed in the shortest of exchanges.

This drama won’t have enormous audience figures. Kosminsky and Straughan ask that viewers absorb themselves in detail; have a grasp of history. But it fully communicates the nerve-jangling sense of bodily threat with which Mantel’s novels are freighted – life is cheap in a disease-ridden Tudor England ruled by an absolute monarch – and it offers us the chance to bring that fascinating, dangerous world into our living rooms. Pay attention: this is TV worth watching.

Wolf Hall begins on Wednesday 21st January on BBC Two at 9.00pm

Source: The Telegraph

See Also:
BBC Radio 4 – Saturday Review (Wolf Hall review starts at 18:15)

Categories Merchandise Wolf Hall

‘Wolf Hall’ Now Available for Pre-order on DVD/ Blu-ray

Wolf Hall is now available for pre-order on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK. According to, it will be released on March 2nd. Also note, the soundtrack is set for release on March 9th. For a sample of composer Debbie Wiseman’s score, check out this clip from the Woman’s Hour program on BBC Radio 4.

Wolf Hall Blu-ray preview 'Wolf Hall' Soundtrack

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Why the BBC’s Unmissable Wolf Hall Could Be the Greatest Period Drama Ever Made – Jan 15, 2015

Why the BBC’s Unmissable Wolf Hall Could Be the Greatest Period Drama Ever Made

by Christopher Stevens – The Daily Mail – 15 January 2015


Should you have plans for Wednesday night, cancel them now. With its brilliant cast, sumptuous settings and jaw-dropping attention to detail, Wolf Hall — the BBC2 adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning Tudor novels — is the TV event of the year and must not be missed.

Of course, Henry VIII has been no stranger to our screens. The most notorious monarch in British history is also its an enduring TV star: the story of his six marriages as he strived for a male heir has gripped audiences again and again.

But Wolf Hall, a breathtaking series that uncovers the ferocious political battles at the heart of his court, may be his most magnificent portrayal yet.

Anne Boleyn schemes to be queen, the king dismantles the all-powerful monasteries and England’s enemies circle, waiting to destroy the nation.

To tell the story on such an epic scale requires a stellar cast . . . and Wolf Hall has it, headed by Homeland’s Damian Lewis as the king.

Continue reading Why the BBC’s Unmissable Wolf Hall Could Be the Greatest Period Drama Ever Made – Jan 15, 2015