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Hit Play above to watch the cast of Becoming Elizabeth talk playing real-life characters, Tudor costumes and epic sets
From The Tudors to Wolf Hall, Tudor history has long been a rich source of material for TV shows and movies, but a new historical drama is set to shine the spotlight on an untold story from the infamous time period of English history.
Becoming Elizabeth explores the origin story of one of our most iconic monarchs, Elizabeth Tudor - Henry VIII’s second child - before she became Queen Elizabeth I.
The eight-part series, which premieres on STARZPLAY in the UK, was filmed on location throughout the UK, with the epic sets and lavish costumes transporting you back in time.
In an exclusive series of video interviews, we spoke to the show’s cast members Jessica Raine (Catherine Parr), Tom Cullen (Thomas Seymour) and Jamie Blackley (Robert Dudley) to discover the behind-the-scenes secrets from filming Becoming Elizabeth.
The show's cast had the challenge of portraying real-life character from history, but unlike the stars of period dramas like The Crown - who have mountains of photos, videos and interviews to dissect - there’s less material on Tudor royalty to help with their research. So, the actors had to think creatively about how they could discover more about their characters, other than what the show's creator Anya Reiss had written in the script.
English actress Jessica Raine - who you may recognise from roles in Line of Duty and Call The Midwife - she turned to the written material surrounding her character Catherine Parr, who was the last of King Henry VIII’s six wives (the one who ‘survived’ in the famous rhyme).
In the show, Catherine Parr is shown being left on the sidelines after her husband Henry VIII dies and his young son King Edward VI ascends to the throne.
Raine tells us exclusively: “I read her biography because she has two marriages behind her before she marries Henry VIII - three loveless, sexless, awful marriages. I was just like ‘Ugh, you poor woman’. There were little snippets in the text, like she could be prone to foul language when she gets angry, and I was like ‘I can definitely relate to that!’”
Raine also compiled a playlist of songs to listen to to get into character. You might think she selected famous English folk songs like Greensleeves to get her into the mindset of Catherine Parr, but she explains otherwise: “I put together a playlist which was some great female rappers, just as far away from the Tudors as you can get! I’d be feeling the swagger of Catherine Parr and how ready she was to take on the world as Queen.”
Welsh actor Tom Cullen isn't new to period dramas, having starred in Downton Abbey (as Lady Mary Crawley's love interest, Lord Gillingham) and in the historical drama series, Knightfall. He tells us that he stuck to the script as his main source of inspiration for his character Thomas Seymour, who was the brother of King Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour (she 'died' in the rhyme).
Tom's character Thomas Seymour was also uncle to Henry VIII's young son, King Edward VI, and becoming Elizabeth portrays Thomas Seymour's quest for power ahead of his nephew.
Cullen reveals: “The main thing I used was the script, because the story itself, yes it’s about the Tudors, but if you zoom in on it on a macro level, it’s actually just about a family. So a lot of my research is just trying to figure out the interpersonal dynamics between the characters and also, what drives my character.”
If I Stay actor Jamie Blackley - who plays Robert Dudley, a suitor for Elizabeth's affections - concurs that the script was his main point of research. Explaining that he stayed away from other portrayals of Robert Dudley in movies and TV shows, he says: “It’s just the script which felt like a very freeing place to be in because I didn’t want to get stuck in what I thought was the right thing to do. I just wanted to read, then throw it all out the window, then you just live by the script and what story we’re trying to tell.”
Hit Play below to watch the cast of Becoming Elizabeth talk Anya Reiss' modern script and filming intimate scenes
Watch Becoming Elizabeth if you liked…
The Tudors, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Victoria, The White Queen, The Other Boleyn Girl, Mary, Queen of Scots, The Crown, Outlander, Bridgerton.
Becoming Elizabeth premieres Sunday 12 June on STARZPLAY.
STARZPLAY is available as an add-on channel to Prime Video.