What movie or TV series do you believe most accurately portrays Elizabeth I and Anne Boleyn ?

Oooh, tough one. For Elizabeth, I loved "Elizabeth I" starring Helen Mirren and also "The Virgin Queen" starring Anne-Marie Duff as I thought they were so much closer to Elizabeth's story and Elizabeth's character than the movies starring Cate Blanchett.
Anne Boleyn is harder...I thought Genevieve Bujold was great in "Anne of the Thousand Days" and I thought that "The Tudors" did a great job with Natalie Dormer playing Anne. I know that "The Tudors" has loads of inaccuracies but it also has many accuracies that have been missed in other films and programmes, like that wonderful scene where Anne is begging Henry to listen to her while she has Elizabeth in her arms. I also thought that Anne's execution speech and execution were brilliantly done. I know that Anne is still presented as someone who contemplated murder etc. but I loved the way that Natalie Dormer showed Anne's feistiness, intelligence and ambition, all mixed with her vulnerability. Eric Ives describes Anne and Henry's relationship as "storm followed sunshine, sunshine followed storm" and I think that this was showed perfectly in "The Tudors".

What do you think?

What do you think?


51 thoughts on “What movie or TV series do you believe most accurately portrays Elizabeth I and Anne Boleyn ?”

  1. Mary Ann cade says:

    Personally, I believe that Keith Michell is the definitive Henry VIII and Glenda Jackson is the definitive Elizabeth I in The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth R PBS miniseries.

    I also think that Genevieve Bujold was a great Anne Boleyn in Anne of a 1000 Days! I enjoy the others and love watching anything about Henry and his family, but I think these are the standard that others should set their performances by.

    I thought both Natalie Dormner and Maria Doyle Kennedy did a fine job in the Tudors.

  2. Collie says:

    I have to say Natalie Dormer embodied what I have read and what I believe to be Anne Boleyn. Just an amazing performance. Elizabeth, I love Cate as far as personality and demeanor but Helen …WOW….
    It kills me to think the Tudors are done… I would have loved to see, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth

    1. Carolyn says:

      And don’t foget Lady Jane Grey.

      1. Emily says:

        Or Henry VII.

  3. Jessica D J says:

    I think Natalie Dormer did a WONDERFUL job as Anne.

    I too would love to see The Tudors add a TV Movie/Mini Series on Mary, Edward & Elizabeth. I am so sad it ends so soon, they have done such a great job.

  4. Tina Bennett says:

    My favorite Elizabeths? Oooo…tough. I’ll go with Cate Blanchett; Glenda Jackson; Helen Mirren and (going WAY back) Flora Robson (who played an older Elizabeth in both ‘Fire Over England’ with Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh, and ‘The Sea Hawk’ with Errol Flynn. I like Robson’s Elizabeth even better than her contemporary’s portrayal, that being Bette Davis).

    Favorite Anne? Much easier: Genevieve Bujold of ‘Anne of the Thousand Days’, ‘The Tudors’ Natalie Dormer and Dorothy Tutin of The Six Wives of Henry VIII fame.

    While I’m at it, my LEAST favorite Anne Is Henny Porten who played her in Ernst Lubitsch’s 1920 GERMAN production ‘Anna Boleyn’ aka ‘Deception’. I didn’t care for it at all, and it’s missing everything that made Lubitsch such a great comedic director (known for the “Lubitsch touch.”). I LOVE silent movies but was totally bored by Deception. Porten is on the homely side and spends most of the movie literally running from a bombastic Henry, played WAY over the top by the usually great German actor Emil Jannings. The wedding of Henry and Anne shows an Anne who looks like she’s heading for the chopping block she’s so completely miserable. The IMDB listing is http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0010962/; not sure the video is online, but you can see pics of Henny’s Anne at http://image.evene.fr/img/fiche/g/8266.jpg AND http://www.ebert-gedenkstaette.de/Bilder/Ebert/ebert_leben1919/49%20-%20Boleyn.jpg.

  5. karena says:

    Hi I have just visited your site for the first time and I think it is the most informative detailed site about Anne and her times that I have found. I am currently reading katherine the queen by Linda porter, a book about Katherine Parr and was wondering if anyone else had read this and what they thought

  6. Eliza says:

    I haven’t watched a lot of movies about Elizabeth, only the ones with Cate Blanchett, so I can’t give my opinion.

    About Anne, I loved the Tudors, the way Natalie Dormer portrayed Anne, she was exactly the way I imagined her. I love all the little things they put in the script, for example her motto “Ainsi sera..” or a lot of her quotes.

  7. David says:

    I agree with Mary Ann in that Keith Mitchell was, “Henry VIII” I could even place Keith’s voice with the King. Glenda Jackson played Elizabeth I to a tee and her character portrayal of the Queen satisfied my minds thought of Elizabeth….Natalie Dormer’s voice I can easily apply to my minds picture of what Annes’ voice could have sounded like. Elizabeth I was a strong woman, at moments in her life she came across as maybe a bit manly, where as Anne was all woman in all ways I believe anyway and Natalie’s portrayal of her is my best choice to date.
    Good job Natalie……!!

  8. Kate says:

    I believe that ‘The other Boleyn Girl’ portrayed Anne best. Yes, it was inaccurate in many areas but of course none of us truly knows what did go down in that time. But Natalie Portman was amazing at her part.
    Every time I think of what Anne might of looked like or acted like I always picture her. Her reactions in the film were stunningly perfect! and her execution scene sent chills down my spine!

  9. Karena says:

    I think Richard burton was the best Henry and that genevieve buljold was the best Anne .As for the best Elizabeth I can’t decide between Glendale Jackson and Cate blanchett

  10. Sam says:

    Best Anne Boleyn has to be Vanessa Redgrave. She was fantastic, it was such a shame she had little screen time at all.

    1. Walter Bowen says:

      Sam, thank you for giving Redgrave a well-deserved honorable mention. Of course, her few minutes on-screen leave her out of the running for “best” Anne Boleyn. But you’re right, she portrayed a lot in just a few seconds — without a word!

  11. Shoshana says:

    Natalie Dormer’s portrayal of Anne was magnificent; especially the execution scene. Natalie showed such emotion in it; a woman about to die but trying to be brave and not break down. The moment she almost loses her battle and starts to cry but is able to stop is more than acting – to me it is reliving the moment. Anne must have felt like that on the scaffold. Close to breaking down but having the strength to refrain and die bravely and with dignity.

    To bad we don’t have time travel; wouldn’t it be wonderful to send a video camera back to record important events so we could finally know what really happened. But then, it is also fun to let our minds wander and “feel” what we believe Anne and others would have felt as they lived their lives. I can’t imagine standing on a scaffold knowing I would never walk off it on my own, that in moments I would die a violent death and there was absolutely nothing I do to stop it, and the heartbreak of knowing I would never see my child again and she would be left surrounded by my enemies. Anne’s emotions must have been swirling in her mind and that she was able to stand and speak with dignity; and then kneel for the blow without breaking down is a testimony to her spirit.

  12. Lisby says:

    To me there is no Elizabeth but Glenda Jackson and no Anne but the remarkable and remarkably missed Dame Dorothy Tutin.

  13. Zoe says:

    Favorite Anne: Genevieve Bujold
    Favorite Elizabeth: Glenda Jackson.

    Other great Anne and Elizabeth’s: Natalie Dormer and Anne-marie Duff

  14. Onelikethelioness says:

    For me, Keith Michell will always be the quintessential Henry. As Henry aged, his character changed and he became a tyrant. Brilliantly played. Glenda Jackson was a wonderful Elizabeth but Helen Mirren was outstanding. Strangely, my favourite Mary 1 was Kathy Burke. I found her portrayal poignant and touching. I saw Anne of the Thousand Days as a young child and believe that my fascination with Tudor history started then. Genevieve Bujold will always be the embodiment of Anne as far as I am concerned. Natalie Dormer played a very good part but I am very pedantic and her pale coloured eyes spoiled the portrayal for me. Pathetic, I know, but Anne’s dark eyes were mentioned so many times in reference to her physical appearance I feel it was a detailed which should not have been overlooked.

    1. Royal E James says:

      You talk about Natalie Dormer’s light eyes. When you consider the availability of ‘colored’ contact lenses, I wonder why they didn’t make use of them. As you say, it is a well-documented historical fact that Anne had dark eyes. But at least she was true to the character in most other ways. Which can certainly NOT be said about Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry. I’ve never seen a portrait of Henry where he is slender and dark-haired.

  15. Nancy says:

    I am so grateful for the mini series “Tudors” . Every time I read anything about the Tudors, I see the faces portrayed by them on that show. Do you think Henry was suffering from a brain damage or a tumor from the jousting accident? It is amazing that the greatest monarch in English history came from Anne and Henry. It is a shame to think what Henry may have been able to accomplish had he not been “mad”. I am sure the diabetes he had took its toll on him as well. the most interesting family in history.

  16. TudorsRose says:

    vCate Blanchette is my favorite young Elizabeth I.
    Helen Mirin is my favorite older portrayal. At first, I didn’t like that N Dormer had such light eyes. As someone else mentioned, her dark eyes are very well documented. However, in all other aspects, her portrayal was just how I’ve always pictured her so I got over it! Now, She’s who I picture when I picture Anne!
    I didn’t like Nat Portmans portrayal one bit. Espescially, the execution scene. To me, her lack of research on the character she playing, showed through! Just horrible!

  17. Anna says:

    I personally thought that Natalie Dormer was perfectly casted as Anne. She portrayed everything I expected Anne to be. Whereas Natalie Portman in the movie The Other Boleyn Girl was nothing like the Anne I’ve read about, I really did not like her in that particular role. But just the way Natalie Dormer acted, strong, smart, seducing men with her eyes, very good acting!!!!!

  18. ACE says:

    The mention of Vanessa Redgrave’s silent potrayal in A man For All Season is intriguing. She certainly conveyed the allure that Anne must have possessed. I also think that Robert Shaws potrayal of Hebry was very convincing, he captured the arrogance and self indulgence of Henry and also the look , he managed to convey his size somwhat that most of the other potrayls gloss over. The Henry of “The Tudors” I found completly mis cast. I think most of the opinions of the potrayal of Anne are based on the personal experience of the viewer and tend to think that most who prefer Nathalie Dormer have probably not seen Genvieve Bujold in Anen of A Thousand Days, who gets my vote. As for Elizabeth, I founb Cate’s portrayal the most sympathetic.

  19. Bibiana says:

    My favorite Elizabeth so far is Anne Marie Duff, who played her in ‘The Virgin Queen. ‘ I loved her combination of imperiousness and vulnerability. Glenda Jackson was also a great. Elizabeth, but I felt her portrayal was less balanced and less sympathetic. She seemed too posed. As for Anne, even though’ The Tudors ‘ was not all that historically accurate, I felt that Natalie Dormer truly captured Anne’s spirit.

  20. Dawn Kiernan says:

    I have to admit Genevieve Bujold in Anne of 1000 Days was my favourite Anne Boleyn. She embodied the very image that I had of Anne Boleyn but Natalie Dormer also had Anne’s temper and resistance towards Henry even though she wasn’t the carbon copy of Anne Boleyn because Anne Boleyn is notorious for her brown eyes which Elizabeth inherited and in my opinion Cate Blanchett and Dame Helen Mirren were the best Elizabeth’s that I have seen to date but Cate’s eyes were wrong apart from that SPOT ON!

  21. Ann Marie Duff as the young Elizabeth, without a doubt. Her consummate skill as an actress simply shines through the script. Glenda Jackson’s Queen Bess was mesmerizing and a
    master-class in acting but tragically she simply did not look the part. Robert Shaw’s rumbustious ‘Henry V111 was brilliant and propelled by Robert Bolt’s screen-play that focussed on the sanitised and idealised Thomas Moore. Orson Well’s was brilliant as Wolsey. Cate Blanchett was hamstrung by a schoolboy script and Elgar’s Nimrod as b.g. music. That’s the way of film-making..

    1. Claire says:

      I liked Anne Marie Duff too and for an older Elizabeth I really liked Helen Mirren.

  22. Ashley says:

    My favorite Anne was in “The Other Boleyn Girl” 2008 version, played by Natalie Portman. I seen that movie three times in the theaters and several times at home. I think Natalie Portman physically looks closer to what the true Anne had looked like. Her execution was, in my opinion…the very best. It made me “feel” for her, cry for her. My second favorite, would be Natalie Dormer in “The Tudors”, but more so that she brought a side of Anne that made her seem complete – seeing her in different situations. My least favorite Anne was in “The Other Boleyn Girl” the 2001 version. In my opinion, it was just awful. Genevieve Bujold did a beautiful job playing Anne, when she told off Henry when she was in the tower…it gave me goosebumps! What a great performance. Overall though, I think Genevieve’s interpretation of her was much too innocent – not enough feisty 🙂

  23. Tess says:

    I think that Ray Winstone made the best Henry (Keith Mitchell looked the role but thought he over acted)…..and I think that Helena Bonham Carter was the best Anne.

  24. Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn and cats Blanchett as Elizabeth.

    1. Cate not cats. Lol

  25. Tess says:

    I think that Ray Winstone is the best King Henry because of the masculinity and power behind him……and I think that Helena Bonham Carter was the best Anne – not beautiful but big dark eyes, swarthy complexion, strong, smart, and sexy…..like Anne was supposed to be.

    1. Mary Baker says:

      Replying 5 years later but in what world is Helena Bonham Carter “swarthy”?

  26. Leo says:

    definitely, hands down, my Anne Boleyn is Genevieve Bujold. She is brilliant as Anne, nobody else. And as Eluzabeth?, the Magnificent Cate Blanchett

  27. Mary says:

    “Looking, My Lord…Still looking…Ah! There, found one” Natalie Portman of course. Though, personally I think the movie was a little bland, I’d go with the black swan. Can’t blame me. and Elizabeth? Cate Blanchett, no doubt. Just watched it a couple of hours ago (bland too) but I adore Cate so, yeah. We got our own preferences and these ladies are in my favour. 😉

  28. peakay says:

    Best Anne ive seen so far is Natalie Portman, I havent watched the Tudors series. Best Elizabeth is of course Cate Blanchett, she slayed that role on both movies

  29. Silvia says:

    The only movies/ series I have seen were The Tudors and The Other Boleyn Girl. I have to admit that though Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Anne was good, I prefered Natalie Dormer more in her role of Anne Boleyn in The Tudors. You could feel the passion and sorrow she intended to express and truly gave life and fire to the character she was playing. The scene of Anne’s execution in The Tudors was heart wretching, even though there was no tear Natalie shed during her performance of the dying Anne, you could totally feel the pain. I didn’t like Portman’s portrayal of Anne, and not necessarelly because of her acting, but the script she was supposed to play. I always pictured Anne as a strong and ambitious woman who faced challanges with dignity (most of this impression is thanks to Natalie Dormer; i always imagine her when I think about Anne Boleyn). Portman portraited her as an evil, selfish and power seeking woman, who faced her death in a shamefully manner, unlike the real Anne was reported to have done. Though her performance was great, and she posseses great acting skills, Dormer’s performation was closer to reality and really showed us who the real Anne Boleyn was thought to be

    1. Tidus says:

      Anne Boleyn: Natalie Dormer.
      As far as Natalie Portman, I blame that on the writing and the directing.

      Elizabeth: I liked both Anne Marie Duff and Cate Blanchett.

  30. Philip Boleyn says:

    In film, there can be only one Anne Boleyn: Genevieve Bujold in Anne of the the Thousand Days (Oscar nomination; Golden Globe win). That sums it up. Vanessa Redgrave had all of two minutes on screen…can’t count that one, really. That goes for Dawn Adams, too. A big NO to Natalie Portman. Henny Porten just didn’t do it for me.
    Dame Dorothy Tutin for tv work as Anne.
    For Elizabeth, I must say that Cate Blanchet in Elizabeth (for film) and a real tie between Glenda Jackson and Helen Mirren in television work. As mentioned previously, writing has something to do with excellence, but acting has its part as well. Many of these roles are based on plays or a piece of fiction, not real history.

  31. robert says:

    Genevieve Bukild and Natalie Portman
    I know that Portman’s movie is not the more accurate historical movie, but Portman captured Anne’s mannerism and her physical appearance.

    Wow, i’m surprised that some guys liked Dormer portrayal so much, because i can’t see her as Anne Boleyn. She’s a fantastical actress, but she was very stereotypical and among all the actresses who played the queen, she’s the one who looks the least like Anne Boleyn. Tudors is a great show with amazing script, but the cast choice to represent the historical characters were not the best.

    Being a recent and four seasons serie, Dormer had more time on screen to show facets of the character, that’s why she’s in the imaginary and some got attached to her ,but that’s it.

  32. Jessa says:

    Elizabeth R with Glenda Jackson is definitely the most accurate and nothing has come as close. My second runner up would be Ann Marie Duff as The Virgin Queen. However, I sooooo enjoyed Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, primarily when she told the Ambassador of Spain, Don Guerau De Spes, those amazing lines. Para-phrasing here: “You can tell Philip that I fear neither him nor his armies” and “I, too, can command the wind, sir. I have a hurrincane in me that can strip Spain bare if you dare to try me!” I also enjoyed that scene between The Queen and Dr. John Dee: “The forces that shape our world are greater than all of us, Majesty. How can I promise that they’ll conspire in your favor even though you are the Queen? But this much I know. When the storm breaks, each man acts in accordance with his own nature. Some are dumb with terror. Some flee. Some hide. And some spread their wings like eagles and soar on the wind.”

  33. Jessa says:

    I enjoyed the line by Don Guerau De Spes [Actor William Houston], too, and when he bowed and gave that “I”m looking you up and down” look after saying the line [paraphrasing]: “There is a wind coming that will strip away your pride.” Philip II of Spain was great as a deceiver, just the facial expressions alone [Actor Jordi Molla].

  34. Adelaide says:

    The best Elizabeths are Glenda Jackson and Anne-Marie Duff.

  35. Ada says:

    Genevieve Bujold was simply outstanding as Anne Boleyn.Natalie Dormer-amazing too.And for Elizabeth.Helen Mirren was a perfect older version of Elizabeth.That’s exactly how I thought Bess was and she also resembles her a bit
    I hate that all those movies (Anne of The Thousand Days,The Tudors,the two movies with Cate) have a lot of historical inaccuriacies.
    For example,AotTD:I love Anne’s monologue(My blood have been well spent) but it’s very innacurate beacuse Henry didn’t visit her in The Tower.Or In The Tudors,there are so many I can’t even count them.Same for Elizabeth(1998) and The Golden Age(2007).But I know Natalie Dormer tried so hard to do justice to Anne’s character and I appreciate it.

  36. Kedem Berger says:

    Great site! I’m fascinated by both Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I, and in love with Anne of Cleves, possibly the most sympathetic of them all.
    Anne Boleyn was played in the theatre by Vivien Leigh, who was born to BE Anne Boleyn and in all repects perfectly embodies what I imagine Anne would have been, except for the dark eyes of course. You can see her in costume here:


    Alas, no screen portrayal, so I’ll stick with the first Boleyn I’ve seen as a kid, Genevieve Bujold, magnificent in every way, and she had the neck. Dorothy Tutin and Natalie Dormer do a fantastic job, but they don’t embody the part as did Bujold, for me at least. Keith Mitchell as Henry is above all others, with perhaps Richard Burton as a possible alternative. I would have loved to see Anna Bolena played by Maria Callas back in 1957. Jodhi May was interesting, and both Helena Bonham Carter and Natalie Portman were godawful.

    The ultra-magnificent Glenda Jackson is THE Elizabeth for me, both in the series and the film. Helen Mirren (and Bette Davis) offer complementary portraits, with Cate Blanchett interesting at least.

  37. SHIRLEY says:

    Natalie Dormer was amazing and the Tudors was my favorite show. The Other Boleyn Girl was horrible, the facts so off and the acting not comparable to Natalie Dormer and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. We will never know exactly what happened but Henry did what he wanted and was a very spoiled man. Jane Seymour was not his love but just the woman who had his son and died before he tired of her. Anne was cast as the woman they broke up a marriage but that marriage was doomed. Anne was innocent and victim to a heartless man.

    1. Tidus says:

      Great Post. I agree.

  38. Tess says:

    Young Elizabeth = Cate Blanchett
    Older Elizabeth = Helen Mirren
    Henry=Ray Winstone
    Anne = Helena Bonham Carter

  39. Jamie says:

    Don’t forget Glenda Jackson’s portrayal of Elizabeth in Mary Queen of Scott’s.

    As far as Anne’s I will always favor Genevieve Bujold in Anne of a Thousand days.

  40. Royal E James says:

    I must concur, Genevieve Bujold will always be my favorite Ann Boleyn. But I must confess I couldn’t get beyond the first episode of The Tudors, it was so untrue to the period. And Jonathan Rhys Meyers, while good to look at, is totally miscast as stocky, red-headed Henry.

    I loved Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth except, once again, it was not true to the period. The Glenda Jackson production was much truer to period and Jackson is an excellent actress.

  41. Meghan says:

    Adding to a years long discussion but why not…rewatching the Ray Winstone Henry VIII and thinking of all of this.

    Fave Annes: Now that we have Claire Foy, I’d add her to the list in WOLF HALL. But I think my favorite will always be Natalie Dormer. She just got all of Anne’s oddness…she is so physically unique, unique voice, unique mannerisms…so much of what drew people to her. And her fire, her intensity, her coyness, her transformation from cunning and shrewd to desperate and terrified. Least favorite Anne: Helena Bonham Carter. She just didn’t capture the fire for me. Also she was visibly pregnant during the movie and added to it by touching her stomach!

    Favorite Henry: A tough call-Ray Winstone was wrong in so many ways and right in so many others. But Richard Burton really got all of Henry for me.

    Favorite Elizabeth: Helen Mirren all day every day!

  42. Nicola C says:

    Elizabeth I definitely Glenda Jackson. She really had it going on, the voice, the presence and the looks. You could really believe she was Elizabeth all the way through the whole series as she grew older. She gave a stunning performance. I think Cate Blanchett’s Elizabeth owed a lot to Glenda’s example but again, Cate made it believable and, like Glenda, she has a good voice for it.
    Now to Mama Boleyn, Genevieve Bujold was a class act as Anne, I loved Natalie Dormer’s portrayal too, both came across as seductive but also showing the fiery personality and intelligence that Anne is famous for. Natalie Portman on the other hand, physically she was the perfect Anne, looked just right for the part but for some reason she just didn’t make as strong an impression as Bujold and Dormer managed to put across. Also, Natalie Dormer did her last scenes so brilliantly it left a strong impression for ages. Very poignant!

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