More cast members have been added to the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed novels “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies.”
“Hall” centers on Thomas Cromwell, who served as an advisor to Henry VIII, and his efforts to survive in the Tudor court. “Bodies” focuses on Henry VIII’s ill-fated second wife Anne Boleyn as well as the continuing life story of Cromwell.
According to the Guardian, “Homeland” actor Damian Lewis has been cast as Henry VIII and “Anonymous” actor Mark Rylance will portray Cromwell. In addition, “Hysteria” actor Jonathan Pryce will be playing Cardinal Wolsey and “Game of Thrones” actor Anton Lesser will play writer Thomas More. Anne Boleyn will be played by “Vampire Academy” actress Claire Foy and the role of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife, has gone to “The Borgias” actress Joanne Whalley.
Interestingly, Rylance has already starred in a movie about the world of Henry VIII – he portrayed Sir Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne, in the 2008 movie “The Other Boleyn Girl,” while Whalley starred as Mary, Catherine of Aragon’s daughter and later queen of England, in the 2005 miniseries “The Virgin Queen.”
The BBC series will air in six parts sometime next year and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” writer Peter Straughan is behind the script.
Rylance lauded director Peter Kosminsky’s casting in an interview with the Guardian, saying, “Myself aside, I feel he has cast Wolf Hall with a superb eye for character and all the nuanced humanity Ms. Mantel's masterpieces deserve.”
He also spoke positively of Mantel’s writing.
“I love it when an author, such as Hilary Mantel, does her research and discovers an original understanding of a very familiar piece of history,” Rylance said. “Even during our rehearsals her detailed imagination of the world of Thomas Cromwell is alive in Peter Straughan's ingenious and faithful adaptation.”
Mantel won the Man Booker Prize for her novel “Bodies” and is reportedly working on the third part about her planned trilogy centering on Thomas Cromwell, with the third novel currently titled “Mirror and the Light.”