The White Queen
Major new adaptation of Philippa Gregory's bestselling historical novels for BBC One
What character do you play?
I play Margaret Beaufort, a Lancastrian, who was Henry VII's mother. But when we meet her that seems like a very unlikely outcome...she's on the losing side, and in her mind nothing less than the redemption of her dead father's soul rests on her changing Lancaster's fate through her son. She's chased by ghosts and there's no turning back. So she's pretty intense.
Margaret is hard to empathise with, so if people want to understand why she is the way she is then that's the most I could hope for. There's that great Anais Nin quote: "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are"... so I don't feel I've much control over that side of things, thankfully.
Do you enjoy period dramas?
Period drama or not, doesn't really sway me either way, it's not a deciding factor in choosing a role... I guess period dramas tend to be interested in people's interior lives as so much was held back, which makes things interesting for an actor.
For this period, I loved the bizarreness of seeing children walking up the aisle... it brought home how alien a world it is to us in England today. Margaret was a mother at 12. Their lives are all lived in fast forward.
What was the most memorable scene for you?
Any scene with Rupert Graves, who plays my third husband Lord Thomas Stanley was memorable because he made me cry with laughter every day.
What did you like best about your period costumes, hair and make-up?
The best aspect of the costume was not having to wear a corset for hair and make-up, it was that it was my job to look awful, so no worries after late nights and one too many Glühweins!
How was the experience of ageing throughout the series?
As there wasn't really the budget for fancy ageing prosthetics the physical process was quite straightforward. The script focused particularly on Margaret's single mindedness so her objective didn't change over the years but the foundations her faith is built on, start to crumble in a way that terrifies her. She has to adapt with each marriage, her survival mode alters to navigate the men in her life.
Do you think that there are many similarities between the monarchy of 1464 and today?
Not many, apart from the fact it's still a national event when there's a royal wedding/birth/death.. .they still affect the country's mood or at least that's what the press would have us think.
Did you do any research around the time period and the monarchy?
Michael Jones' biography of Margaret Beaufort was incredibly helpful. Lots of background reading of the period. Lots of staring at her face in Westminster Abbey. And various other inspirations that wouldn't really make sense outside of my own head so best keep them in there!
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