Anne Boleyn on film

Posted By on August 17, 2017

Obviously, the real Queen Anne Boleyn was never on film, but I thought that I’d have a look at some of the on-screen portrayals of Anne Boleyn.

I made a list of the Anne Boleyn actresses I could think of off the top of my head – I’m sure you can add to it! – and then had a look on YouTube to find some clips of them playing Anne. My personal favourites are Genevieve Bujold and Natalie Dormer, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, do comment with actresses I’ve missed and links to videos of them playing Anne.

And is there an actress you’d love to see play Anne Boleyn in a TV series or film? Do share!

Natalie Dormer:

Claire Foy:

Merle Oberon:

Genevieve Bujold:

Natalie Portman:

Helena Bonham Carter:

Jodhi May:

Dorothy Tutin:

Charlotte Rampling:

Emma Connell:

Playing Anne Boleyn:

Then we have Miranda Raison who played Anne Boleyn in Howard Brenton’s play “Anne Boleyn”, Vanessa Redgrave in the film “A Man for All Seasons, Elaine Stewart in “Young Bess”, Lydia Leonard in the play of Wolf Hall, and Maria Callas in the opera Anna Bolena:

51 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn on film”

  1. CB says:

    In some respects, Anne Boleyn is the trickiest of the wives to play as an actress. Why? Well, because virtually everything about her is open to question. We don’t know her date of birth, so it’s difficult to find an actress of the correct age. We don’t know what she looked like, so there’s an element of freedom in how the actress should look for the part. Her personality is open to question, as are her religious beliefs and as is her relationship with Henry. I find it telling that the majority of films and TV adaptations have interpreted their relationship as one based on power and control, one based on sexual blackmail, in which Anne ruthlessly dangles her sexuality in front of Henry to win a crown. The Other Boleyn Girl is guilty of this and so is The Tudors.

    On the other hand, Anne has also been better treated in the medium of film than some of the other wives, who have often been reduced to caricatures. I am especially thinking of Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr here. I often wonder whether, one day, a film or television adaptation will represent KP as she truly was: an accomplished author, a regent, a loving stepmother, a capable politician, a devout evangelical, a lover of fashion of the arts – rather than reducing her to a middle-aged, unattractive nursemaid.

    For me, one or two actresses stand out for their portrayals of Anne Boleyn. Natalie Dormer offered a captivating performance in The Tudors, but her Anne was too modern. Her relationship with Henry seemed to belong to the 21st century, not the 16th. I also don’t think she resembled the real Anne in her facial features and in her appearance. Generally, I enjoyed her performance and she was one of the stand out characters in The Tudors, but for the first season or so her version of Anne was mostly negative: a seductive, manipulative and ruthless temptress who invites Henry to find a ribbon hidden in a secret part of her body, who makes threats against Katherine of Aragon, who schemes with her family to win Henry’s love. In Season 1 Anne is little more than a brazen strumpet, and it’s easy to see why most of the court hold her in contempt. It’s true, though, that in Season 2 we get a more nuanced Anne who is interested in religious reform, who cares deeply for her daughter and supervises her upbringing, who is active in politics and plays an important diplomatic role in England’s relations with France.

    The two standout actresses, for me, are Genevieve Bujold and Dorothy Tutin. Genevieve’s performance was incredible, and with her French accent, wit, fiery temperament and courage in speaking her mind, she had something of the real Anne. I also thought that her relationship with Henry VIII (played by Richard Burton) conveyed all of the passion, moodswings and “storms” that the real couple are said to have had. Dorothy Tutin was not a conventional beauty, but her sparkling dark eyes, long brown hair and delicate figure all chime with what we know of Anne’s appearance. Anne is said to have captivated Henry not so much with her beauty, but with her wit, her intelligence, her outspokenness and her personality. Dorothy, for me, captured that perfectly. I also thought that the way Dorothy portrayed Anne’s terror and vulnerability while imprisoned in the Tower of London chimes with what we know of Anne’s behaviour when she was imprisoned. Finally, Dorothy’s courage, humility and dignity at the trial and execution are a testament to how the real Anne is said to have conducted herself.

    That is why, for me, Genevieve and Dorothy stand out.

    One last thing: Natalie Portman is often criticised for her performance in The Other Boleyn Girl, but I just want to point out that, as an actress, she probably had little (if any) say about the script and the direction the film took. I actually thought Natalie was one of the stronger characters in that film, far more so than Mary (Scarlett Johansson). Yes, the film was extremely inaccurate (not least in the scaffold scene) but Natalie did her best with the script she had and I thought she offered a strong performance.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      I agree with most of what you say. Natalie Dormer had issues with the way Anne was portrayed in the Tudors as she is very interested in Anne as a person and was successful in changing the production team and director to show Anne as a less sexual and more positive and realistic character. In Season Two her reform interest and other influences were explored in a more historical manner. We almost never see Anne talking about the English Bible in her quarters or her difference of ideas about the way money from the monasteries should be used for over those of Cromwell and the King or her modest household in any other drama. Anne came across well in the second season, if a bit too modern at times. I dont really know which is my favourite Anne, all of the actresses contributed something, but Portman is my least favourite, not because her acting was poor, for on the contrary it was excellent, but because she played the misrepresentation from Philippa Gregory and unfortunately will always be known as the Mean Girl Anne. For my favourite, I think I need a bit longer to explore.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Now I have refreshed my memory I think I am still caught in two or three minds. I loved Charlotte Rampling and Dorothy Tutin in the Six Wives, especially the former, her gestures were captivating, but I still think that Genevieve Bujold just has the stage presence to bring Anne to life, her passion and fire are fabulous and she may be tiny but she stood up to Richard Burton as Henry with real conviction. As I said every actress has brought something to the role, but we have to remember an actress is limited by the vision and direction of the film makers. If they want a bossy Anne, she has to be bossy or lose her job, unless she can have an imput to how the role is portrayed. Dormer had to contend with demands that Anne run around the place seducing Henry and getting in his way. If anyone was doing the chasing, it was the other way around. However, I don’t see their relationship as one sided or of equals. Henry liked Anne for a lot more than her sex appeal and I am pleased to see that now and then her intelligence come out. We see Anne introducing Henry to Tyndale in a few of the films, but to be honest, while Anne may have had a link to Tyndale and sponsored those who brought his work to England, there is no evidence that Anne gave him the book Obedience of the Christian Man, which he decided was for him and all Kings, although circumstances say it was possibly Anne. It makes sense, but it could have been anyone close to the King who supported his reforms. It was a very daring thing to do because the book had heretical teachings in it, but somebody like Anne, going to be his wife could get away with this. Henry liked the passages so it was fine. It is a tragic irony that Tyndale did not support the divorce and Henry had his agents hunt him down after Anne’s fall and execution and had him killed.

        It is definitely a difficult thing to play Anne because the sources give such varying portraits of her, from the woman who lured the King from the righteous path to the woman who was charitable, heroic, an innocent victim of false allegations and a friend of reform. There is a lot in between. Anne had moments of being a bitch, of madness, of being disrespectful, even mistreatment of her step daughter, but she didn’t deserve any of the terrible things which happened to her. On the other hand we see a woman who is not the seductive creature her enemies claimed, a woman who was actually very modest and expected good behaviour in others, who wanted social and religious reforms, was very well educated and intelligent, prompting this for poorer people, was involved in numerous examples of helping ordinary people and she was blamed wrongly for deaths which Henry alone caused. Anne is difficult to pin down and it is more dramatic to show the Anne of legend as a shrew or blaming her for the death of Fisher and More, of being insanely jealous, of wanting to get rid of Mary or Katherine, then suddenly to paint her as a victim, but also Henry as the one we should feel sorry for, blaming her fall on Cromwell. Showing the passionate, intelligent reform minded Anne does not make good drama, at least not until more recently. The passionate love affair must not get lost in all of this, because this is the heart of Anne’s story. The relationship has to be explored tenderly, with evidence from a few letters, with the divorce as the cause of tension, in real terms and how it developed from a chase to the meeting of hearts, mind and soul. It is also a tragedy. Anne and Henry had times of sunshine and storms, for their marriage was not easy, the pressure was very difficult to process. Anne and Henry suffered loss, just as he did with Katherine. They partied, but not all the time and fell out over her role within the marriage. Their marriage was not accepted by many prominent people and threats came from abroad and at home. Anne had periods of anxiety and depression. She was not secure. She felt her rival wife, Katherine was still in the marriage and hoped she would die one day so as her problems would cease, although there is no proper evidence that Anne wanted or tried to kill Katherine. She was desperate for a son, but one didn’t come and then tragedy struck. Anne lost her baby boy. From then on her life was not at its best and Anne was vulnerable. The final terrible days in the Tower has been well done in many dramatic films and drama, are usually sympathetic and well recorded. It is very difficult to bring everything together, to put a good Anne in, because of all the contradictions, but also getting her age and build and face and hair right is impossible. Having said that I think most have come close, certainly within the remit they have been given.

  2. Laura says:

    Damn! That is about one of the best comments I have read in a long time. Very well said!

    1. CB says:

      Thank you.

  3. Christine says:

    I preferred Charlotte Rampling as Anne as she seemed to resemble her more with her wonderful high cheekbones and she had a French accent to, Charlotte having lived in France (and I believe she still does) she had the air of the exotic about her, that elusive quality which I feel the real Anne possessed and was graceful in the way she moved and elegant, Anne was all these things but sadly as Rampling only portrayed her in the series about Henry V111’s wives she was only given an hour, I’d liked to have seen her in a film like Genevieve Bujold had and Natalie Portman, I didn’t like Portmans portrayal of her but then she had to go by the the script of Gregory’s novel which was vastly inaccurate, I loved Bujolds performance she had like Rampling that sexy lilt being French Canadian, she was hot tempered and vivacious but I feel she was too pretty to be a realistic Anne, we have to remember Anne was not a delicate English Rose she was strong featured and very striking and it’s these features I look for in an actress who portrays her, so facially I think Claire Foy and Vanessa Redgrave having long thin faces portrays her the best, but Bujolds and Ramplings performance are my favourites, Natalie Dormer was a right cow in ‘The Tudors’ so credit to her but the stupid script let her down as in Natalie Portmans case, she was portrayed as an ambitious crown hungry woman who set out to trap the King when the reality was very different, and her father too was shown as some kind of pimp who told Anne to go after him yet again, in truth he was wary of his daughters involvement with Henry, I will mention Helena Bonham Carter and Ray Winstone, they were laughable as Henry V111 and Anne Boleyn, Helenas acting was so wooden it had no fire in it, the critics slammed her as a disgrace, she’s better of playing the queen of hearts in Alice in Wonderland, and Winstons Henry V111 was a joke, the first actor to give him a cockney accent, he comes from my home town of Enfield and owned a bar there, which I often frequented on a Saturday night, was really surprised when he took up acting and it was comical watching him play Henry, iv often said its a pity Merle Oberon wasn’t given more air time in that old classic opposite Charles Laughton, when I saw her brief appearance she looked very like the ladies of the 30’s, thin arched eyebrows and cupid bow mouth, she was an Art Deco Anne, anyway I’m sure in the years to come there will be plenty more actresses all too eager to play the enchanting Anne and il look forward to seeing them.

    1. Hayley says:

      I watched Charlotte Rampling in the 70’s film of Henry VIII and his six wives with Keith Michell but unlike in Genevieve Bujold’s iconic performance she had no detectable french accent? Genevieve Bujold had just the right degree of french accent however, probably helped by the fact that she is a French Canadian in real life.

      I do think it’s a pity that C.R. didn’t have better direction because although she looked the part and certainly exuded the essence, sex appeal and grace of AB, the way she delivered some of her lines was very poor indeed: one in particular which goes something like “and now you shall forget all these cares…”( to Henry) and it was just dreadful….like a child would say it in a school play, with emphasis in all the wrong places.

      I didn’t like Natalie Portman’s Anne at all but personally I find that Americans are bad choices for these roles. It’s hard to explain but for me they just have a street wise, modern, knowing sort of quality which somehow manages to bleed- through however well they have mastered an English accent. Facially they also look too bland and insipid but that may be the fault of the make-up department.

      1. Hayley says:

        P.S. re-reading your post, I just wonder if you may have mixed up Charlotte R. With someone else? I haven’t yet come across a TV series where C.R. plays Anne B? just the film. (Please enlighten me however if there is a TV series where she plays Anne).

        Dorothy Tutin played AB in the UK TV series of the early 70’s and Natalie Dormer played AB in the more recent TV series.

  4. Christine says:

    Forgot to mention who I’d like to see play Anne and that’s Angelina Jolie, she has a fiery nature to like Anne had and she looks absolutely stunning.

    1. Hayley says:

      Ooooh nooooo. Too ‘Hollywood Barbie’’ by far -(and lips that size would have probably been considered almost a deformity back in Henry’s day!) Film makers must realise that Hollywood’s sexualised womanly ideal would not have been shared by any European court of Henry VIII’s time.

      1. Hayley says:

        Now here is a link to a photo of Oliva Hussey whom I always thought was Anne Boleyn personified ( if you are going by the famous portraits anyway).

        I must think like the film producers of the 70’s did, because I later learned that she had indeed been in line to play Anne of the Thousand Days but that the role went to Genevieve Bujold due to Olivia’s prior contractual obligations I’m assuming.

        Here is the ebay link to Olivia’s photo

  5. Caroline says:

    I did like Dorothy Tutin! I thought everyone in that series was a little too old for the roles they were playing, but they didn’t commit the sin of being too modern like a lot of more recent portrayals. I have little interest in watching the new versions…

    1. CB says:

      You’re quite right Caroline. The actress playing Katherine Howard in the 1970 BBC series – Angela Pleasance – was aged 29 at the time. That’s potentially double the age of the real woman.

  6. Kate Rodgers says:

    I love Natalie Dormer as Anne. Although we know The Tudors had many inaccuracies, I like to think it had something of the zeitgeist about it. The lavish and exciting life at court, the intreague and plotting…

    I think Natalie started off playing a certain version of Anne – the sexy temptress. But I know from reading interviews she was desperate for the character to show depth and range and Natalie challenged the writers to make the part more rounded. I think she succeeded as we definitely see her haughtiness, fear, vulnerability and more as the storyline develops.

    I think Natalie will always be my Anne 🙂

  7. Roland H. says:

    I loved Vanessa Redgrave as Anne Boleyn.

    Without saying anything, she conveyed Anne’s sexiness and allure in the little screen time that she had.

    As well, Vanessa looked like the famous ‘B’ necklace pictures of Anne come alive.

  8. Diane Wilshere says:

    Dorothy Tutin was my first Anne when I watched Six Wives at age 10. I am a fan of Genevieve Bujold and wish Meryl Oberon had more screen time. Lydia Leonard was amazing in the 5 1/2 hours of the stage Wolf Hall. Saw it both at Dtratford and on. Roadway

    1. Laura says:

      Lydia Leonard in my opinion looks very much like I imagine Anne as well as Natalie Dormer. I think Lydia Leonard is very undermentioned as an actress.

  9. Margaret Watts says:

    CB I totally agree.. Genevieve Bujold was the actress that enchanted me and “held me” at the tender age of 9. As I grew older and realized Anne lived at the French Court she was the perfect Anne. I am not sure Anne was as attractive but she captured her character no doubt.

  10. Caro says:

    Natalie Dormer and Genevieve Bujold are my favourites and Emma Connell was good in the Suzannah Lipscomb programme.
    I read a good few years ago that someone wanted Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett to play Henry and Anne (obviously it didn’t happen)

  11. Bonnie says:

    Most actresses have been too pretty-as we know Anne’s attractiveness lay in her personality and “foreign ways” -as she spent most of her formative years in France surely she must have a French accent if albeit slight and would have seemed exotic to the English court .In recent years Claire Foy would be my favourite physical depiction as (with no offence) she is not “pretty pretty”. I agree Henry’s other wives haven’t faired very well either-particularly Katherine of Aragon who is always portrayed as a plump middle aged woman at the end of their marriage(her depiction is usually part of ABs story) but there was so much more to her than just the last few years and as we know as a young woman she was very pretty and adored by Henry -but this is rarely shown and so most people think of her as her old woman who Henry was desperate to rid himself of. Each one of his wives have a story to tell and yet so often overshadowed by Anne

    1. Christine says:

      That’s true Bonnie, Katherine is always portrayed as a middle aged frump but she was as a young woman very beguiling, everyone who met her said she was very attractive and her hair was her crowning glory being a light golden auburn, she was slim and loved to dance and was fond of fine gowns and jewels, and it’s true I do agree that Henry other wives have often been overshadowed by Anne but then her story is unique amongst women, she is the only woman ever to have toppled a queen from her position and the first queen to have died such a tragic violent death, her very fascination lies in her strong character and bloody death, it is no wonder she has been called the most enigmatic of Henry V111s wives.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Katherine in the Six Wives was lovely and had fair hair. I can’t think of the actress but she looked most like Katherine. However, in the Tudors although she didn’t look like Katherine, Mary Doyle Kennedy was brilliant and Irene Papas was marvellous in Anne of 1000 Days, perhaps the best I have seen. I actually don’t get that hung up on fair, redhead, black haired Katherine, just as long as the actress is good, which is more important. Annette Crosbie that’s it, and Claire Bloom. It is rare to see a fair Katherine, but Anne always has dark hair and we are not even certain she had dark hair. Didn’t Natalie have to dye her hair for the part? Jodie May had lighter hair and some people believe Anne had very red hair. Dark can mean anything from brown to black to dark red, auburn, dark brown and so on. It is controversial but dark hair was equated to being a witch, so reports that Anne was dark may not refer to black hair or even dark brown. We just don’t know.

        1. Christine says:

          Hi Bq, yes Dormer is blonde and in fact when she was talking to the producers/ directors of The Tudors they wanted her to portray Anne as blonde, but she persuaded them to stick to the realistic version, they wanted a modern Anne but I cannot see Anne as anything other than dark and had she stayed blonde for the series I don’t think I would have liked it very much, since very fair iv always had this idea in my mind that Anne was typical witch like, long dark hair and very elegant, this is how she is described but yes, dark can mean anything, she could have had dark auburn hair, black hair is rare in Britain anyway, British people can have very dark brown hair which can look black but it isn’t, only our continental cousins have true black hair, however her hair was said to be her crowning glory, I didn’t like Jodie Mays Anne, there was nothing special about her at all, to me the actress who plays Anne has to have that extra something.

        2. Christine says:

          Frances Cukor played Katherine Bq.

        3. Roland H. says:

          Frances Cuka (in the movie ‘Henry VIII and His 6 Wives’) looked like the historical Katherine I think.

        4. Laura says:

          Wasn’t it red hair that was meant to indicate being a witch? I think it was just an excuse. Anne has so and so features and characteristics so she is a witch. I think Anne was meant to be unconventional looking. Elizabeth of York had fair hair so Henry was used to that growing up.

  12. Nan says:

    I thought Emma Connell did a magnificent job. She balanced Anne’s complexities: her confidence and boldness with her piety and even hints, at times, of shyness. As this was a documentary, she only appears in clips, and often without speaking, so her expressiveness was particularly important to conveying a sense of Anne as a person. (I also think that Emma is a great physical representation of descriptions of Anne, not to mention a good combination of the NPG and Hever portraits–hers is perhaps the closest appearance to the Hever portrait that I’ve ever seen.)

  13. Daniela says:

    My personal favourite was Geneieve Bujold in Anne of a thousand days. She had the dark look that often describes Anne. Her eyes in particular could convey a variety of emotions and that’s what I liked so much about this portrayal. I did think Natalie Dormer did an amazing job too but thought she was very pretty to play Anne. We don’t really know what Anne looked like but I just wondered whether Anne was as beautiful as portrayed by Dormer. I suppose no one really knows, finding an actress to play this intriguing Queen must be a real test for directors, having said that I suppose it’s also based on how they want Anne to come across to their audience. It may not always be the intention of the director to portray accuracy but rather allure, sexiness, the woman who took want she wanted. In conclusion I think many of the actresses that have played her have done a remarkable job but as I said before my personal favourite remains Bujold.

  14. Dawn 1st says:

    The problem with script writers, directors, researchers and all the others involved with the development of the characters of these ladies, Henry too, is that they are heavily influenced by the ‘myths’ that have built up about them over the centuries, these are more interesting, entertaining and widely known than the truth…. K of A was a stubborn, over religious frump, Anne a home wrecking scheming, loose moral shrew, Jane a simpering doormat, who gave her life doing her duty in the heir department. A of C repulsive in every way imaginable, C Howard a rampant sex mad uneducated slut, and finally K Parr a little harder to define, and not very interesting at all, except she actually brought the family feel to Henry’s final years. The myth will always override the truth as it generates more money, viewers and acclaim. And with the lack of real fact on them as people makes them very versatile to the those that hold the pen.
    For me the best Anne is Genevieve Buljold. Her looks were compatible with descriptions and portraits there are of Anne, even though these are not contemporary of her time. But what really helped her performance was that she is French-Canadian. The lilt to her voice seemed to add the ‘Anne Factor’ and bring that influencing French side that Anne had adapted with her time in the French Court.
    Let’s hope the new film being made about Mary Queen of Scots can stay a little bit closer to the truth, rather than becoming the Sexed Up, Glittering Romantic notions of the movie world… won’t hold my breath though 🙂

    1. Banditqueen says:

      I agree Dawn and the French connection with Bujold meant she could have a French accent which Anne probably did have when she first went to court as people remarked that she sounded as a French woman born. This would have faded with time, but everything about Genevieve says Anne Boleyn. She had grace and charm and a stage presence which just lite everything up. She was my first Anne Boleyn as I didn’t see the Six Wives till many years later, but for me she was Anne Boleyn. I completely agree, the myths are stuck in the minds of film makers, but then, myths are often sexier for the audience.

      1. Dawn 1st says:

        I actually think Burton was a very good Henry too, though he apparently said that he detested the film. It won an Oscar for Best Costume Design, which was well deserved, they were beautiful, and contemporary.
        I have an original film brochure, and the novel by Edward Fenton, which is practically word for word of the film. It must have been wonderful to see this on stage which it was originally written for by Maxwell Anderson in 1948, which was not acceptable for film in those days because of the admittance of premarital sex!! How times have changed B.Q.

        1. Banditqueen says:

          I loved Richard Burton as an actor and his Henry was brilliant, especially when he wanted to tear the world into two pieces and throw both halves into the void in order to marry Anne. Yes, indeed times really have changed.

        2. Roland H. says:

          Not only premarital sex – but incest too!

  15. Sarah says:

    Henry 8th Helena boroham carter played Ann Boleyn tooo she wills quite good ray winston played Henry which he was very much like him
    I think he was the only henry 8th actor to actually look and resemble Him
    And he played him perfectly

  16. Sarah says:

    Sorry I know it’s about Ann but I wanted to say that was a very good film and I loved ann of a thousand days brillant film

  17. Christine says:

    Richard Burton was a brilliant actor and he portrayed Henry 11 superbly too, both were fiery intelligent kings, however I never liked his missus much Liz Taylor.

    1. Gail Marie says:

      You know Liz was in Anne of the Thousand Days, in an uncredited part as a courtier, wearing a mask.Supposedly she wanted to keep an eye on Burton and Bujold and asked the director for a part so she could be on the set!

      1. Christine says:

        Really I never knew that.

        1. Dawn 1st says:

          Burton and Buljold did have a bit of a fling, though it was kept quiet for a long while…so Liz’s intuition was right!

      2. She wore the perigrina pearl for her cameo part, which must be the ultimate act of costume one upmanship

  18. Gail Marie says:

    I saw Lydia Leonard in the stage plays Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and she was excellent. I would have loved to see her in the TV version of Wolf Hall, as I didn’t love Claire Foy as Anne (although she is marvelous in The Crown).

  19. Michel says:

    Genevieve Bujold (Anne of the Thousand Days) is the definite Anne for me. I also like Dorothy Tutin (The Six Wives of Henry VIII) and Charlotte Rampling (Henry VIII and his Six Wives).

  20. Charlene says:

    I have never been fond of Genevieve Bujold’s performance, but that may be because Richard Burton turns my stomach in the same inexplicable way that John Wayne and Sean Connery do. I certainly don’t mean to insult anyone who likes her performance, but I literally cannot watch Burton.

  21. Cheri Thompson says:

    I will always absolutely adore Natalie Dormer’s portrayal of Anne. She is talented to begin with and I felt she really brought the character to life.

  22. Adam Pennington says:

    Controversially I really didn’t like Natalie Dormers Anne. She’s a fine actress, as her work in Game of Thrones has proven, but for me she just was not the right choice for Anne. She didn’t look the part, it was all just too modern, which to be fair to her was beyond her control. I think Helena Bonham Carter did an amazing job, I adore her as an actress, but again not quite the right look, im a bit of a stickler for preferring Anne’s who confirm to how we at least think she looked, and Helena’s very square jaw just didn’t suit.

    Really, there can only ever be one Anne. The original and the best, Genevieve Bujold. The ONLY actress to ever get an Oscar nomination from playing Anne, and it’s clear why. She was sublime, electric beyond words. That she managed to dwarf the absolute titan of cinema that was Burton tells you everything you need to know. Her French accent added that extra layer of difference that we don’t often see in other portrayals.

    Again rather controversially my second favourite is Claire Foy. I think she did an amazing job and unlike all other Anne’s really managed to convey just how much of a slippery slope Anne was clearly always on. She looked right, and I think she sounded right. Yes, Mantels Anne is not the nicest, but I think Foy did a great job of humanising her.

  23. booboo1st says:

    I was in the theatre at age 12 I think to see Anne of a thousand days, still have somewhere a very dog eared copy of the book.This portrayal of Anne sent me on a lifelong hunt for all things Anne. The portrayal by Genevieve Bujold will always to me represent the Anne I would like her to have been. I have seen most of the other portrayals mentioned above and do agree Dorothy Tutin’s Anne was very much different but excellent. I read The Other Boleyn Girl before ever seeing it and was disappointed because to me an entire new generation may well carry that Anne around as historically accurate, whereas it deviated far and wide from almost everything I have ever read about her, except in magnifying anything bad ever written about her. Natalie Portman not to blame here. I have studied the portraits of her and still can find no clue as to what she really looked like. I used to think perhaps the artists of the day were unable to really do portraits well, but have seen some from the same periods of time that resemble real people, so am always left wondering is it remotely possible that Henry was attracted to a woman who’s face could stop a clock? I think not, there seem to be no reports from her time that are complimentary, but a King, a poet and before that a Norfolk apparently fell in love with her, so she certainly had that something, it draws some close and causes hateful jealousy in others.

  24. Lorna Wanstall says:

    My favourite actresses who played Anne are 1. Genevieve Bujold, in my mind she is the closest to the real Anne I think. 2. Charlotte Rampling 3. Helena Bonham Carter.
    Natalie Dormer was very good, but I always felt as if she lacked something to me at least she seemed to have trouble finding her feet. That said she had some wonderful scenes and played them very well, I loved her heartbreaking cry as her brother and her friends died she really managed to portray the pain that the real Anne must have felt when her brother was executed. I also loved the scene in the last episode of the Tudors, when she confronted Henry. (I wonder if the real Henry faced the ghosts of his wives he had destroyed when he was dying)
    Dorothy Tutin was passable but again as in the case of Natalie Dormer, she lacked the spark that I feel the real Anne had.
    Natalie Portman did her best but again is just passable, although inher case I feel the squipt was the real problem there. But it was based from a book by SWMNBN and we all know how OTT SWMNBN is with her historical fiction. (and many of er books have been made use of in other ways in this house)
    Claire Foy was just horrible, her interpretation was nothing more than like fish wife in a market square throwing a tantrum. I’m sure if the real Anne was anything like Henry would have got fed up with her within months.
    The worst interetation IMO was Jodhi May she was all wrong from the word go, she was just awful.

    1. I liked Johdi May visually, she seems to me to look virtually identical to Anne physically, as Anne wasnt considered a great beauty,i ,but she lacks vicacity and grace,i think its a shame Vanessa Redgrave never got a proper chance to play Anne.I didnt much like the Tudors version of Anne but I did like Natalie Dormers Anne

  25. Ellen says:

    I like Natalie Dormer’s Anne the most. While watching The Tudors I wasn’t much interested in watching it after season 2 because she was the most interesting part of the show and Natalie gave one of the best performances. Maybe I like her so much because she fits the idea of who I think Anne was, as both victim and an instrument in her own downfall. I didn’t see her as all that modern, more as someone who had a lot of self respect and wasn’t willing to compromise that.

    I didn’t like Claire Foy’s Anne, but I don’t think that was the actress’s fault. Anne in Wolf Hall is, to be blunt, an unpleasant harpy. It’s hard to understand why Henry was willing to do all that he did to marry her with Wolf Hall Anne. Anne should be charming and witty. There needs to be something inviting and alluring about her as well as being possessed of Anne’s temper and smugness.

  26. Hayley says:

    I always thought that Oliva Hussey was born to play Anne Boleyn. Apparently she had indeed been in line to star in Anne of the Thousand Days but lost out to Genevieve Bujold due to prior contractual obligations I imagine. ( I loved Genevieve Bujold too)

    If you follow the link to an ebay photo below you can see just how well Olivia resembles the AB portraits and descriptions we have of Anne. What a pity she is now too old.

  27. Hayley says:

    I really didn’t like Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn at all. That ‘startled rabbit’ look she wore much of the time in theTV series of ‘Wolf Hall’ became supremely irritating.

    Somebody mentioned that Meryl Streep would have been a great Anne. At first I thought “No wayeeee”, but on reflection I think she is probably the only US actress who could have done the part justice. Although sadly now too old, she certainly has the long oval face we associate with Anne’s portraits and could have been made to look like Anne relatively easily with the assistance of a skilled make-up artist and a long dark wig. Meryl’s superb acting would have been the clincher of course.

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