January 3, 2015 at 5:42 pm #340218
Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner Damian Lewis is starring as King Henry VIII in the upcoming television adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning historical novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. Written by Peter Straughan (one half of the Oscar-nominated “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” duo), the six-part drama follows the meteoric rise of Thomas Cromwell in the Tudor court. Bafta-winning Peter Kosminsky (The Government Inspector, The Promise) is in the director’s chair as two-time Olivier and three-time Tony Award winner Mark Rylance takes up the role of Cromwell.
Wolf Hall is set to air on the British network from January 21.
PBS’ Masterpiece will broadcast the mini-series in the U.S. on April 5.
official trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kT2lMkhldcJanuary 4, 2015 at 10:22 am #340220
This will probably be one of the biggest Emmy contenders this year. Performances, writing, directing, technical fields. It could be one of the nominations leaders.
Mark Rylance can easily win Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie with that role and his reputation. He’s such a highly regarded actor.
I guess Damian Lewis would also compete in Lead Actor?
This can be the year of “Wolf Hall” at the Tonys and Emmys.January 8, 2015 at 9:01 pm #340221
They screened 2 episdoes of this in London tonight, the Twitter “reviews” are pretty positive.January 12, 2015 at 3:33 am #340222
RadioTimes – Wolf Hall preview: BBC2’s Hilary Mantel adaptation could already be the best drama of 2015
The much-anticipated historical drama, starring Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance, lives up to the books, and the hype, says Ben Dowell
Friday 12 December 2014 at 12:01AM
For those, like me, who have eagerly devoured Hilary Mantel’s door-stopping Booker-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, the experience was like being taken directly into the world of candlelit Tudor intrigue and the minds of its people.
We see events around King Henry VIII’s court in all their detail – the plotting, the hunting, the finery, the domestic minutiae – and all from the point of view of the man who became Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. The person history has largely judged to be a calculating apparatchik is fleshed out and painted in all his flawed, exquisite humanity.
But how could the BBC cram over 1,000 pages of story (and there’s a third novel to come) into six hours of drama? It is a monumental task, but it’s one they appear to have pulled off.
The key to Mantel’s success was to take a well-known story from history and imbue it with dramatic tension. While we all know what will happen to Anne Boleyn, and that Henry will lop the head off another wife and die something of a fat angry old man, the people living these lives didn’t. They did not see themselves as historical figures, they were just in the midst of their lives.
Both Straughan and director Peter Kosminsky have captured the drama and depth of the story, aided by a magisterial performance from Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, the super-smart son of a blacksmith who rose to the highest office in the land.
Rylance is a uniquely gifted performer who marries a brilliant mind with an enormous heart, and even just one look from him seems to carry years of pain, hurt, fear and deep human feeling. The scene in episode one in which he loses his wife and two daughters to sweating sickness is truly devastating; just as heart-breaking is the fact that he is then forced to switch in the next scene to discussing matters of state and the issue of the King’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon (he mentions his bereavement in passing to his boss, Jonathan Pryce’s good-natured and optimistic Cardinal Wolsey). The marrying of the personal and the public is the great achievement of the book – and now the drama.
Of course, there are other characters in the story and episode one uses flashback to recall Cromwell’s unendurably painful childhood, where he suffered at the hands of his violent father, and to his time as chief advisor to the deposed Wolsey. There is also a deliciously creepy turn from Mark Gatiss as Cromwell’s enemy Bishop Stephen Gardiner.
But everything builds up to Cromwell’s meeting with Damian Lewis’ Henry VIII – constantly mentioned, but only encountered at the end of episode one when he finally appears in all his Henrician glory. The signs are that Lewis will be able combine the charisma and the unpredictable brutality of the Monarch.
But it is on Rylance that the laurels seem likely to be bestowed in what is already looking like it could be the stand out drama of 2015.
Wolf Hall begins airing on BBC2 in JanuaryJanuary 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm #340223
The first two episodes are out.January 22, 2015 at 1:22 am #340224
I am no history buff and haven’t read the book and I basically know nothing about the history of Tudor England except that the king had many wives……but I was hooked after the first episode and episode two was even better. I love director Peter Kosminsky’s shooting style with hand-held cameras and using only natural(candle/fire)light for night scenes. It’s rare to do a historical drama like that but the gloom dose make the show feel more authenticity. I think Mark Rylance will surely be a serious contender for Emmy. Damian Lewis should go supporting unless he has more screen time in the rest of episodes.They both gave brilliant, nomination-deserving performance. I can’t wait for the next one.April 2, 2015 at 4:25 pm #340225
Variety’s glowing review:
Review: “Wolf Hall”
Courtesy of PBS
April 1, 2015 | 07:30 AM PT
TV Columnist @ blowryontv
by Mark Rylance’s towering central performance, “Wolf Hall” is a very quiet
“Masterpiece,” visiting the court of King Henry VIII minus the perfume and
airbrushing associated with something like “The Tudors.” Adapted from Hilary
Mantel’s award-winning novels, this six-hour project boasts an insanely good
cast, while moving at such a methodical pace as to almost obscure all the
treachery and politicking at work. Although there has been no shortage of
productions devoted to this period, aficionados will doubtless relish another
escape into the 16th century, this time peering over the shoulder of Rylance’s
cool and calculating adviser Thomas Cromwell.
Cromwell is introduced as an aide to Cardinal Wolsey
(Jonathan Pryce), who describes him as “a man of many talents.” That he is, but
one of them, unfortunately for him, is a fierce sense of loyalty, which becomes
problematic when the cardinal opposes the machinations intended to secure a
divorce for King Henry (Damian Lewis) from his first wife, Katherine (Joanne
Whalley), in order to marry the manipulative Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy).
Based on his association with Wolsey, his chief
lieutenant would appear to be in danger as well. Yet after suffering a
devastating personal loss, Cromwell—born into modest means as a blacksmith’s
son—manages to gain the king’s ear, though even he must tread lightly around
the mercurial monarch, whose obsession with producing a male heir dictates both
Anne’s rise and eventual fall.
“Everything you are, everything you have, will come from
me,” Henry tells him, somewhat ominously.
Along the way, Cromwell gradually proves himself not only
a survivor but also someone with whom foes trifle at their own peril. When a
friend mentions that God should punish those who have wronged the Cardinal,
Cromwell dryly suggests that instead of troubling the Almighty, just leave the
job to him.
Overflowing with fine British actors even in modest
roles, “Wolf Hall” contains a number of smaller subplots surrounding the king’s
challenge to the Church, among them Cromwell’s intriguing relationships with both
Anne and her sister Mary (Charity Wakefield), with whom Henry also dallied
before moving on.
as good as the cast is (and Foy is particularly splendid), Rylance— a noted
stage actor whose screen credits include playing Anne’s father in “The Other
Boleyn Girl”—simply dominates the proceedings. Quietly handling crises whilst
trying to talk sense to the king, he seldom raises his voice above a hoarse
Much of the character’s emotion, in fact, is conveyed in
silence, as events leave Cromwell, for all his influence, sporting a look of
weary resignation. Indeed, one particularly terrific scene is played without
dialogue, as Cromwell watches Henry’s attention drift from Anne to Jane
Seymour, his future bride.
Cromwell’s path regular crosses that of celebrated
historical figures who have inspired books, movies, and plays of their own,
among them the ill-fated Thomas More (Anton Lesser). As for Lewis’ Henry, he
actually disappears for long stretches, but the mere prospect of eliciting his
wrath casting a very long shadow.
Cromwell’s mysterious background—illuminated only
sparingly through flashbacks—makes him enigmatic in a way that confounds and
irritates those seeking to undermine his authority. Then again, he keeps his
own counsel while navigating a maze of those who are largely transparent in
their thirst for position and power.
PBS describes the project as “unromanticized,” which
certainly applies to the look and design, which provides a lavish view of royal
life while capturing the dankness and brutality of the times. This is, too, the
sort of project that requires attention and focus from viewers, which includes
keeping track of the time lapses that occur between each of the chapters.
Adapted by Peter Straughan (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”)
and directed by Peter Kosminsky (“White Oleander”), “Wolf Hall” encompasses the
first two books in Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy, and in its tone and texture feels
rougher around the edges than some of “Masterpiece’s” period dramas; still, by
the time it’s over, viewers should be both emotionally spent and champing at
the bit for another trip back to witness the final leg of Cromwell’s story.
Once virtually the exclusive U.S. province for this sort
of classy British fare—which has become a major contributor to the current
abundance of topnotch television drama—PBS now faces extensive competition from
the likes of BBC America, SundanceTV, Netflix, Starz, and others.
Despite the high the service has enjoyed thanks to
“Downton Abbey,” from that perspective presenting “Wolf Hall” feels like
something of a coup, offering a reminder that unlike the oft-wedded Henry, the
marriage “Masterpiece” and British costume dramas remains one of those enduring
matches made in TV heaven.
TV Review: “Wolf Hall”
(Miniseries; PBS, Sun. April 5, 10 p.m.)
Filmed in the U.K. by Playground Entertainment and
Company Pictures for BBC and Masterpiece in association with BBC Worldwide,
Altus Media and Prescience.
Executive producers, Colin Callendar, John Yorke, Polly
Hill, Martin Rakusen, Ben Donald, Tim Smith, Rebecca Eaton; producer, Mark
Pybus; director, Peter Kosminsky; writer, Peter Straughan; based on the novels
by Hilary Mantel; camera, Gavin Finney; production designer, Pat Campbell;
editor, David Blackmore; music, Debbie Wiseman; casting, Nina Gold, Robert
Sterne. 6 HOURS
Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy, Bernard Hill,
Anton Lesser, Mark Gatiss, Joanne Whalley, Jonathan Pryce, Mathieu Amalric,
Charity Wakefield, Richard Dillane, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Natasha Little,
Saskia ReevesApril 2, 2015 at 4:47 pm #340226
USA TODAY’s review:
crowns a magnificent Wolf Hall
Robert Bianco, USA TODAY 7:29 p.m. EDT April 2, 2015
Meet a new man for all seasons.
We’ve been told the story of Henry VIII from many
different vantage points: most often from Henry’s, from any number of his wives
and lovers, and, in the Oscar-winning film A
Man for All Seasons, from Thomas More’s. But we’ve never seen the story
from the point of view of Henry’s adviser Thomas Cromwell, who is usually a
villain, and Cromwell has never been played on TV before by Tony winner Mark
With PBS’ Wolf Hall
(Sunday, 10 p.m. ET/PT, * * * * out of four stars),that combination makes all
the splendid difference.
the course of six hours, this quietly compelling Masterpiece production
introduces us to the issues, conflicts, and competing advisers swirling around
Henry’s court. Just as importantly, it introduces an American TV audience to
Rylance, one of the great actors of our age. For the next six Sundays, you’ll
It isn’t easy for any actor to hold our attention
opposite the larger-than-life Henry—particularly when he’s played with the
magnetic mix of charm, steel, and mercurial threat that Emmy winner Damian
Lewis brings to the role. And yet it’s almost impossible to look away from
Rylance, who holds us with pauses and silence rather than rage, and who seems
to spend as much time looking away from other characters as at them.
Separately, both performances are excellent; combined, they’re majestic.
Adapted by Peter Straughan from Hilary Mantel’s
prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the miniseries
introduces us to Cromwell as an aide to Henry’s lord chancellor, Cardinal
Wolsey (a wonderfully warm Jonathan Pryce). Though Cromwell is a commoner in a
court filled with nobles, Wolsey values him for his intelligence, loyalty, wit,
and willingness to use any means to achieve what he sees as noble goals.
Those qualities will be put to the test by Wolsey’s
sudden fall, caused by his inability to win Henry the divorce he seeks from
Katherine of Aragon (Joanne Whalley) so he can wed Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy).
It’s Cromwell who finds the answer, and puts Henry on the path that will lead
to his split with the Catholic Church and his famous conflict with Thomas More
take on that conflict is the series at its most absorbing, and controversial.
The Catholic Church sees More as a saint and Cromwell as his unrelenting
persecutor. Hall sees More as a vain,
stubborn man whom an exasperated Cromwell tries desperately to save. It’s not a
case of good vs. evil—it’s just two men, each with virtues and flaws,
implacably on opposite sides of an issue.
To be sure, the almost unfailingly complimentary image of
Cromwell you’ll find in Wolf Hall is
not one every historian accepts. But unlike the ridiculous The Tudors or Reign, this
is an honest, stirring attempt to present and understand history and those who
lived it. And while the intent is serious, the show itself is never dry; it’s
filled with passion, humor, glamour, and lots and lots of candles.
Let them light your way to one of the best TV programs
you’ll find in this or any season.April 2, 2015 at 9:34 pm #340227
I may have missed the news, but is it 100% certain that Mark Rylance will be competing in Lead Actor in a TV Movie/Mini-Series category this year? For whatever reason I feel like I have seen some people saying he was a supporting actor. Since it appears he is competing as lead, that category just became a whole lot more interesting. I just assumed Richard Jenkins from Olive Kitteridge would win this snooze fest of a category, but now he appears to have some legitimate competition.
Sorry, maybe I was thinking of Damien Lewis. Do we have any confirmation on his placement yet. Judging from reviews it appears he is a supporting player, but I have seen him discussed as a lead.April 2, 2015 at 10:06 pm #340228
I would say Mark is definitely the lead. Not sure about Damien Lewis. Maybe he could go supporting.April 2, 2015 at 11:22 pm #340229
Damian Lewis will go supporting. He shows up in every episode but had only very little screen time.April 3, 2015 at 8:37 am #340230
Damn, I am so torn now – Richard Jenkins stole the show on Olive Kitteridge, and I was hoping he’d win it, but now I also want Mark Rylance to win the second part of the EGOT, with his Oscar coming next yearApril 4, 2015 at 9:31 pm #340231
Part 1: “Three Card Trick”
The historical drama about Thomas Cromwell and the Tudor court begins
with King Henry VIII, desperate for an annulment from Katherine of
Aragon, stripping Cardinal Wolsey his powers.April 5, 2015 at 8:55 am #340232
This looks like something I am going to love. Plus, its good to see Lewis back on TV in a juicy role after what they did to Brody in his last season on Homeland.
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