Filed under: The Cast
Actress Natalie Dormer, 24, played Anne Boleyn in the recent BBC bodice-ripping drama, The Tudors, where she faced several sex scenes with co-star Jonathan Rhys Meyers. This marked Natalie’s first big break in her acting career, although she previously appeared in Casanova and Rebus. The Tudors series one is out on DVD now.
There can’t be much suspense in the role, everyone knows she’s getting her head chopped off.
Yes, it’s the Titanic syndrome. You know how the story ends, but it was a joy to play her. She’s infamous in history and yet there’s not a great deal of documentation about the woman herself. You’ve got the great thing of everyone knowing who Anne Boleyn is, but you’ve also got carte blanche to do what you want with it.
Have you become an expert on 16th-century history?
I’ve read quite a few books. My David Starkey, Eric Ives and Antonia Fraser are all well thumbed. That’s a personal choice, I’m obsessed with research as an actor, it helps inform my performance. I felt with something as important as The Reformation I should know what I was talking about.
Tudors has raised your profile, are you inundated with offers now?
It never works that way, unfortunately. No matter what echelon you’re at, there’s always competition, the competition just changes. You can never be complacent, there are too many actors and not enough work.
What are you hoping to get?
A nice human story feature film. I’ve learnt so much about camera work doing this job it would be nice to capitalise on that. Or, I’d love to go back and do theatre.
Are you moving to Hollywood?
No, my heart lies at home, but you have to go where the work takes you. I might pop across to Hollywood and have a look around.
Taking your clothes off in front of a film crew is completely harrowing. You find motivation for it in your head
What was working with Jonathan Rhys Meyers like? He seems quite intense.
He’s incredibly intense and he radiates a profound energy that can be used to incredibly charismatic effect. It’s his gift and a cross he bears. He is 110 per cent committed to his work and people don’t realise how intelligent he is. He’s also a very generous actor to work with. When I started, I was very inexperienced and he takes good care of his co-stars.
Were the sex scenes embarrassing for you?
Taking your clothes off in front of a film crew, even on a closed set, is completely harrowing. Anyone can sympathise with that situation. You find the motivation for it in your head. With Henry and Anne, you’re talking about an intense love affair. In my experience, intense love affairs result in taking your clothes off. It’s about justifying it through characterisation.
Why did you want to be an actress to begin with?
It’s an innate, rather dark part of an actor’s soul. It’s just something deep within actors. It’s a wanky answer, but I think it’s the same for all artists and creative people. You’re compelled to do it. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. I can’t say: ‘When I was six, I saw Midsummer Night’s Dream blah blah…’ It’s more esoteric than that.
When did you realise you could make a living from it?
About 18 months ago when I got The Tudors. I was like: ‘Oh god! I can make a living out of this!’ I’d done things before, but any actor, regardless of where they are in their career, is scared they’ll never work again. It’s a profound fear.
What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?
I got a first edition Winnie The Pooh. I used to have Winnie The Pooh read to me as a child so that book was a damn fine present.
What’s your favourite film?
La Reine Margot. It’s a French film from 1994. The French do sex and violence so well. I suppose you could see the lineage between that film and The Tudors.
What’s your favourite Christmas song?
Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt and The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole. The oldies are the best, making mulled wine and listening to those songs gets me in the Christmas spirit.
What’s been your worst acting experience?
I did Casanova and my first scene involved me having to break a bird cage and two birds would fly out of it. I was incredibly nervous. We started out with 25 birds but due to camera issues, cage issues and acting issues we got down to 2 – the other 23 had flown away. On The Tudors I had to work with a dog who was pining for its owner and kept staring at its owner who was standing next to the camera. It wouldn’t do anything other than try to run away from me. Animals seem to be a problem for me.
Have you ever had a supernatural experience?
Unfortunately not and I’d like one. I’ve got an open mind. I say I’m an atheist but I wouldn’t mind being visited by a ghost, I’d be open to the experience.
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