Wolf Hall TV cast to include Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance
Henry VIII and his courtiers to be played by some of Britain’s starriest actors in adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novel
Mark Gatiss, Mark Rylance and Jonathan Pryce are among the starry cast who will don period costume for the TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s historical novels.
Filming has already begun on the six-part drama based on Mantel’s award winning Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up The Bodies, about the relationships at the heart of Henry VIII’s court.
According to the Daily Mail, Homeland star Damian Lewis will play the King, with Rylance taking the role of his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. Saskia Reeves has been cast as Cromwell’s sister-in-law Johane.
Charity Wakefield, who has appeared in the BBC’s Sense and Sensibility, has been cast as Mary Boleyn, the royal mistress and sister to Henry VIII’s second wife Anne, who will be played by Claire Foy. Joanne Whalley will play Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The final female cast member to be named is Florence Bell, who will play courtmember Helen Barre.
The powerful, but ill-fated, Cardinal Wolsey will be played by Jonathan Pryce. Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss will be appearing infront of the camera as another civil servant, Stephen Gardiner and Anton Lesser, most recently seen in Game of Thrones, will play Thomas More. Lesser’s co-star, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, will play Cromwell’s ward Rafe.
Wolf Hall is a British television series that will first broadcast on BBC Two in 2015. It is a six-part adaptation of two of Hilary Mantel’s novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.
Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell
Damian Lewis as Henry VIII of England
Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn
David Bradley as Norfolk
Mark Gatiss as Stephen Gardiner
Charity Wakefield as Mary Boleyn
Joanne Whalley as Catherine of Aragon
Jonathan Pryce as Thomas Wolsey
Anton Lesser as Thomas More
Joss Porter as Richard Cromwell
Thomas Sangster as Rafe
Ed Speleers as Edward Seymour
Florence Bell as Helen Barre
Saskia Reeves as Johane
On 23 August 2012, BBC Two announced several new commissions, one of which was Wolf Hall. According to The Guardian seven million pounds will be spent on the adaptation. BBC Two controller Janice Hadlow said it was “very fortunate to have the rights” to the two novels and called Wolf Hall “a great contemporary novel”.
Peter Kosminsky, the director of the series, said:
This is a first for me. But it is an intensely political piece. It is about the politics of despotism, and how you function around an absolute ruler. I have a sense that Hilary Mantel wanted that immediacy. … When I saw Peter Straughan’s script, only a first draft, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was the best draft I had ever seen. He had managed to distil 1,000 pages of the novels into six hours, using prose so sensitively. He’s a theatre writer by trade.
The drama series will feature 102 characters and it was revealed that Kosminsky began casting the other parts in October 2013. Most of the filming took place in the United Kingdom, in April 2014. It was originally set to film in Bruges. The series will consist of six episodes and is expected to be broadcast in 2015. PBS will also broadcast the series, made in association with Masterpiece Entertainment and Playground Entertainment.
Straughan and Kosminsky working on the same series suggests a harder take on British history is what the BBC wants, rather than series like The Tudors or The White Queen. Mantel called the scripts written by Straughan a “miracle of elegant compression and I believe with such a strong team the original material can only be enhanced.”