Enjoy Showtime’s The Tudors Season 4 Episode One tonight all you lucky, lucky people in the US and spare a thought for the rest of us drowning our sorrows. However, there are various clips and goodies over on the Showtime website, although you can’t watch the full episodes on their site if you’re outside the US – grrr!

There are also various “behind the scenes” videos and interviews.

Season 4

So, what exactly have we got to look forward to in Season 4 of The Tudors? In the online press pack, Michael Hirst says of Season 4:-

“We’re coming to the end of Henry’s life but things don’t slacken up. Far from going out quietly, Henry VIII goes out with an extraordinary bang. He is older, but only in his late 40s. He is ill—he has an extremely serious ulcerated leg—and more paranoid, but then he marries an extremely young woman, who didn’t have the right background to be a Queen. At the same time, he goes to war. Then he marries again, for the final time, to a woman who is very capable but whom everyone thinks is a heretic and some want to execute. So there’s lots of action right to the very end!”

The series has been criticised by some for its unrealistic “physical” portrayal of Henry VIII. Although we have seen his yucky leg, Jonathan Rhys Meyers was still looking rather “fit” and gorgeous in Season 3 don’t you think? But, this will change a bit in the final Season. Executive Producer Morgan O’Sullivan says: “It’s hard to make Jonathan Rhys Meyers look bad, but in the costumes we are putting a little weight on him, graying him a little and doing some prosthetic work so that by the end of the season viewers will notice a marked difference in his appearance. Henry is at the point where he has gone out of control. Jonathan lives this part to such a degree and knows the character of this man so well that it’s extraordinary to watch him now after four seasons—how instinctually he plays the role.”

Is “instinctually” even a word?!

Henry VIII

I always find it interesting to hear what the actors and actresses think of the historical figures they are playing. Here is what Jonathan Rhys Meyers had to say of the Henry VIII we encounter in Season4 and his marriage to the young Catherine Howard:-

“She is the mid-life crisis girl, the Tudor equivalent of going out and buying the red Ferrari when you are 50 and divorced. Obviously she is ridiculously young; the marriage could never work. But Henry kind of uses her—and I always thought of her as a kind of a leech. I don’t mean leeching off Henry, but there’s a naiveté about her sexual behavior, which I think Henry recognizes and he uses her as a leech to draw out the bad blood. There is nothing to test your friends more than if you leave them alone with something that they really want.”

The real Kitty Howard

Katherine Howard

Of course, we all know that little Kitty Howard comes to a very sticky end but I am looking forward to how the series portray her as Queen, how Jane Rochford will be involved in Katherine’s downfall and whether they do actually have her committing adultery with Thomas Culpeper, something that some historians do question.

When asked about why Henry VIII chose Katherine as his bride, Tamzin Merchant, the actress who plays Katherine said:-

“I think Henry sees a young, bright, vivacious, lively girl and an opportunity to have another child. Her purity and naiveté also contrasts greatly with the other people that he has in his life at the time. He’s increasingly paranoid and increasingly untrusting of people. But Katherine Howard seems to be the antidote to the Court and all of its intrigues.”

and on Katherine:-

“I think Katherine sees the chance to be loved and the opportunity for a really good time – essentially, a lot of Jimmy Choos and Vivian Westwood-style dresses and good times!”  but “Katherine really doesn’t anticipate or understand
the responsibilities that go along with being the Queen. Katherine doesn’t even really understand the concept of politics or what the King represents… and that’s her downfall.”

Poor Katherine!

Thomas Culpeper

But what about Thomas Culpeper, the man who history has tarred as a rapist and murderer too (or was that his brother Thomas?!), how will Season 4 treat this new character?

Torrance Combs, the actor who plays Thomas Culpeper, spoke of Culpeper’s relationship with Katherine Howard:-

“It starts out very much as a lustful fantasy. He fancies Katherine above all else, and that’s the motivation behind some of the crazy things he does. She encourages him, so although it starts out as a fantasy, it gradually becomes more of a reality. What is amazing to me is that historically there is a man who had the audacity to think he could get away with this—his lust or love or whatever is so strong that he just doesn’t care. They can’t help themselves, but there is no way it can end well for either of them.”

Indeed, we all know it does not end well for either of them, or for poor Sir Francis Dereham, but we’ll have to wait and see whether The Tudors sticks to the story.

The real Catherine Parr

Catherine Parr

I do hope though that they don’t make Catherine Parr into Henry’s nursemaid and actually portray her as the dynamic, intelligent woman that she was. She was definitely more than the wife who survived!

Jonathan Rhys Meyers says of Henry’s marriage to Catherine Parr “I don’t think he marries her because of love and it’s not because of sex; it’s basically they are equal and he can talk to her on that level. He is not looking for love now; he is looking for a partnership.”

Joely Richardson, the actress who plays Catherine Parr says: “I think all her life has been duty. When we meet Catherine Parr she’s fallen in love with Thomas Seymour – perhaps the first love of her life. She’s totally lost her heart to him when Henry takes an interest in her and she gets married because she doesn’t have a choice. Initially she definitely doesn’t want to be with him. And when she starts to receive presents from him and his attention, it’s the worst thing that could happen to her. But then she becomes fascinated by him, she sees something lost in him. She’s still frightened of him of course. And I think she gets fascinated by Court life and because she is an incredibly intelligent woman, I think she starts to ask how she can influence it in terms of her religion, in terms of helping Henry run Court life better. So she gets interested by all that and forgets about Thomas Seymour – although of course in reality
she went on to marry him after the death of Henry.”

Me thinks that Joely Richardson has been doing her research – well done! It is annoying when you hear some of the actors and actresses make the most awful and basic mistakes when talking about their real life counter-parts but I do feel that both Joely and Jonathan have researched their parts and have a great insight into their characters.

Henry VIII - not exactly JRM!

The End of a Man and A Reign

The Tudors Season 4 press pack points out that “As he [Henry] approaches death, two of Henry’s relationships—in a life filled with relationships and betrayals—remain steadfast. The first is his oldest and most loyal friend Charles Brandon, who has been with him since the beginning. The second, his sixth and final wife Catherine Parr, nurses him and provides patient comfort.”

We do know that Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, was one of Henry’s oldest and dearest friends and I’m looking forward to seeing their relationship as both enter decline.

Season 4 also gives Henry his last chance to be the King he dreams of, the leader and warrior, as he leads his troops to France to get Boulogne. Hirst calls war one of Henry’s “raisons d’etre” and that’s very true, Henry wanted to be the perfect heroic and chivalrous hero King and what better way to show that than going to war and winning?

The Tudors press-pack points out that Jonathan Rhys Meyers has played Henry VIII for more time than any other actor in the history of film or TV and that this gives him a unique insight into the King’s character. So, after playing Henry VIII for four seasons, what does JRM think of this iconic King?:-

“He did some very, very important things for England. Most importantly, he gave them Elizabeth who, I think, is England’s most important monarch. He puts things in motion that years later would come to fruition. And he was a very intelligent man – but he was racked with ego, vanity, his thoughts of his own divinity. You know, absolute power corrupts absolutely, so he was very corrupt. So on the one hand I have empathy for him and a degree of admiration – but not much. I think he makes great television; but he was not, in the final analysis, a great king.”

Enjoy the Season 4 premiere tonight and do comment here to let me know what you thought of it. I so want them to show Henry being haunted by his past, particularly his actions regarding Anne Boleyn!

Anne Boleyn

Laura over at Admiring Natalie Dormer has posted a promo photo of the ghostly Anne Boleyn on her site – see http://natalie-dormer.org/gallery/displayimage.php?album=127&pos=0 – and you can see photos of Catherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour at http://community.livejournal.com/thetudors/189650.html


Other News

In today’s “Sunday Times”, David Starkey criticises female historians for being pretty and writing “historical Mills and Boon” type books. Hmmmm…I do admire the man greatly but sometimes I wonder what he’s on! Gender has nothing to do with a person’s aptitude for history and their writing skills so I wish he would start lumping female historians all together. See http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/article7094249.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797084 for the article “David Starkey Swipes at “Pretty Girl” History”.

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