Okay, personally, I really don't like him as Henry VIII. I KNOW, I KNOW, soooooo many people would disagree with me about this, because....look at him - of course, he's wonderful to look at. But I think he is all wrong for the role. To me, there's nothing that screams KING about him. Sure, he's got a crazy-bad attitude and oozes sex appeal, but other than that, how is he similar to King Henry at all? (For the record, the real Henry was only sexy until around the time he married Jane Seymour). Jonathan Rheys-Meyers never gains weight or loses that gorgeous look - which is great for women all over the world who are watching, but it doesn't do history justice. To me, there's nothing loveable about this guy, and I think he's a pretty lame King Henry.
This movie has been ripped apart by historians (like the book), and likewise, I think the actors have been unfairly put down along with it. I must disagree with anyone who thinks Erica Bana didn't portray a good Henry - I thought he pretty much nailed the role. Besides not having the right "look" - (redish-blond hair) - I think his demeanor and overall presence was much more King Henry-ish than Jonathan Rheys-Meyers. Also, during his courtship with Anne, Henry was still a very handsome man, so this was very accurate in that respect. Everything about him - his mannerisms, passion, anger... it was all what I would have imagined the real Henry to have.
First of all, this movie was fantastic. Anyone who hasn't seen it and considers themself a Tudor Enthusiast should watch it immediately! With that being said, I thought the cast was wonderful. Richard Burton played a fantastic King Henry - and his look was much more authentic than either of the two listed before him (aside from the hair color, of course). Even his face shape, I thought was perfect for Henry. His attitude, as well, was perfect for the role - he had angry outbursts, and then could be very loving and kind - but you still kind of hated him at the end because of his anger issues. A wonderful Henry.
If this comparison was strictly based on looks alone, Ray Winstone would get the King Henry VIII award! He has the perfect blondish-redish hair color, the thicker body type, and the overall gruff expression on his face at all times. Although clearly not the most attractive Henry VIII, he is the most authentic, and for that he gets points. I must admit I didn't watch this whole movie, but the parts I did see with him and Anne Boleyn, I was very impressed with. I thought he was a good Henry, and he showed a lot more emotion than I've seen the other actors show. Overall, I thought he was a good one, and certainly my top pick in terms of authentic look.
Natalie Portman has gotten quite a few bad reviews for her portrayal of Anne Boleyn in this movie, and to be quite honest, I don't know why! She really is one of my favorite portrayals of one of my favorite Tudor characters! The way she showed the feisty (and sometimes cruel) demeanor of Anne was really spot-on for me. Don't get me wrong, I love Anne Boleyn, but I don't necessarily think she would have been the best friend to have. When I imagine her attitude, I imagine it just like Natalie acted it. She's beautiful, mysterious, and a bit naughty, and of course she gets in way over her head. Natalie did a fantastic job of showing how Anne kind of "loses it" when she has her final miscarriage, and how she really ends up in a panicked, terrified state because of her failing marriage. Her final scene at the scaffold was perfect, and so well-acted. I personally love her as Anne!
I promise I actually like "The Tudors" series, I just don't really like their actors. Natalie Dormer just didn't do Anne justice, in my opinion. Sometimes I think her mannerisms (and facial expressions) are a little weird, and take away from whatever she's supposed to be acting onscreen. I have to admit that her temper tantrums as Anne are commendable - she's very believable, but overall I just don't think she fits the character. She seems a bit too caught up in herself, and I don't think Anne was really that way - I think she became that way. I also must say though, that some of Natalie's scenes in the Tower, especially when she said the famous "little neck" line, brought me close to tears. She is a good, believable actress - just not very authentic.
A wonderful, wonderful Anne! She fits Anne's personality perfectly - I mean, to a T! She starts out as a pretty sweet, beautiful girl who is in love with Henry Percy, and completely naive. When she meets Henry we see her fiery temper and a little bit of that spunky Anne Boleyn spirit comes out. Throughout her time at court she becomes more conniving and manipulative by the second, but she can also be just as sweet as the innocent girl she started out as. When she's arrested and thrown in the Tower, she has a beautiful (and sad) scene where Henry confronts her and she really lets her temper out. This is the Anne I imagine when I think of her true temperament, and I have to say that no one does it better than Genevieve. Although the movie's beheading scene was not as emotional or powerful as others I've seen, the rest of the movie really let Anne shine - and they picked an amazing actress for the part!
I'm sorry, Helena fans - I actually really do like her...in other roles. I did not think she fit Anne's character at all. Although I didn't see the whole movie, what I did see made me cringe. I didn't see enough of Anne's fiery side. In fact, what I did see showed kind of a meek and fearful woman who really didn't have much to offer Henry....the opposite of Anne Boleyn! Although Helena is good in other (weirder) roles, I do not think she was a believable Anne at all, and I definitely think they could have found a much better replacement.
You knew I was going to compare Robert Dudleys, didn't you? Of course, with him being my favorite man in Tudor England, I have strong opinions about the men who portray him, and Jeremy Irons is by far my favorite. There's something ruggedly sexy about Jeremy's portrayal (even though he plays an older Robert), and I think he really nailed the personality. He showed Robert as loving and proper at court, but with a daring and ambitious streak, of course, for which he is known and remembered for. His tender scenes with Elizabeth were enough to make anyone's heart melt, and I just really think he did the character justice. He is my ideal Robert Dudley!
When comparing pictures of this actor and the real Robert Dudley, he wins hands-down in the "looks" category. Although not terribly attractive, his face matches the real Robert's most closely - I think it has to do with the facial hair syle. He was a very convincing Robert, although not as tender and romantic as Jeremy was. I don't feel the same pull towards him, but I still think he was a good choice.
I might be the only one who thinks this, but I'm a little creeped out by this guy. Look at him - there's really nothing rugged or sexy about him, and that's what Robert was described as! I think Joseph Fiennes is a little too funny-looking to play Robert, and I was a little sad when I watched this movie, super excited to see another Robert portrayal - and then was utterly disappointed in Joseph. I didn't think there was anything he had in common with Robert. He was a pretty boring (and creep) portrayal if you ask me.
QUEEN ELIZABETH I
I really like Helen Mirren's portrayal of Elizabeth. I think she played her personality really well - she could jump from sweet, loving scenes with Robert to sudden and extreme bursts of anger. I imagine the Queen was very much like that, and I think Helen matched her temper tantrums very well. The only thing I didn't care for as much about Helen Mirren's portrayal was that she didn't radiate that extreme strength that we remember Elizabeth for. Personally, I found her to be a bit weaker than I expected - she cried a lot, which I didn't expect, and I don't imagine the real Elizabeth crumbling into tears quite so easily. However, I loved her speech to the troops at Tilbury before the defeat of the Spanish Armada. That was her best scene, I think, and it really showed Helen's skill at playing such a difficult and dynamic character.
Glenda Jackson probably portrayed Elizabeth the best in terms of her strength and royal presence. She was an excellent choice to play Queen Elizabeth - she exudes power and grace in all of her scenes, and she carries herself with Queen-like dignity. The way she speaks is so powerful and regal...you could really believe that Glenda is a Queen herself! I was very impressed when I watched her, and I think she's a wonderful Elizabeth.
I love Cate Blanchett's performance as Elizabeth - I think she hit all the right marks. The only thing we don't see so much of from Cate is a sweet and loving side. We catch glimpses of it with Robert Dudley, and later with Sir Walter Raleigh (which is false!), but not as much as Helen Mirren's portrayal. We do, however, see plenty of the Tudor temper, as she yells at various characters in the movies, and she does a great job of it! Her Tilbury speech is also convincing, and I think she does an overall great job, even down to the look she always has on her face - another great Elizabeth.
And now you know some of my favorite (and least favorite) Tudor character portrayals. I'd love to read your opinions! This is an interesting topic, since there are so many movies and TV shows focused on this area - You've got to have a favorite!