Played by Sophie Okonedo.
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Sophie on Shakespeare's Margaret
How were you approached about taking part in The Hollow Crown?
She’s very savvy and has a quick instinct. She’s fearless, particularly for that time - as a womanSophie on her character
I've known (director) Dominic Cooke for a long time and have worked with him before. He asked me if I wanted to play Margaret. I had seen Richard II from the first series and loved it. I’d never read the original plays until I got Ben Power’s adapted scripts. What attracted me is the power of the stories and the words. It was a no-brainer.
What do you think of Margaret?
I was surprised I didn't know about the character before. I don’t have a huge knowledge of Shakespeare – I've done a bit but not loads. I’m more familiar with the famous plays. I was amazed that there exists such an extraordinary character. She becomes extraordinary throughout the whole cycle but one play on its own wouldn't give you a sense of how she really is.
What role does she play in the stories?
She’s quite strong in the beginning but she doesn't realise how Henry is going to behave until she gets to England and spends some time there. She realises that she has to take charge all the time because he’s got quite a spiritual nature and finds it hard to be forceful. The crown was thrust upon him at a very young age, so he’s very different from his father. She’s had to fill the gap and steer the ship to what she feels is the rightful place – Henry on the throne and the Yorks in charge.
Is she frustrated with the politics of the day?
She is particularly frustrated at the beginning because Gloucester seems to have such a powerful influence and Henry is treated like a child. They’re married so she feels he should be allowed to rule, with her alongside him. She feels a lot of the people around him are unruly and don’t treat him like a King, as they would have done with Henry V. She’s very unhappy about the situation she finds herself in. It’s not what she dreamed of when she was on the boat on her way to marry the King. She’s very savvy and has a quick instinct. She’s fearless, particularly for that time - as a woman.
The Wars of the Roses is essentially a family feud, with intensely familial relationships.
That’s always the case with Shakespeare, or at least with the bits that I've done. People are always the same, no matter what the period is. The same thoughts and feelings, inconsistencies and ambiguities still occur, and Shakespeare goes to the heart of that.