Natalie Dormer thinks so. The England native plays the doomed mistress and queen in “The Tudors,” returning for a second season Sunday at 9 p.m. on Showtime.
“It would be very easy for Anne Boleyn to be a two-dimensional, Machiavellian, bad, other woman,” Dormer said.“In season two, she really comes through as a pure light. She’s an incredibly loving human being with lots of gusto and fire. There’s a lot of love and faith in her. She has a strong maternal love, which I found incredibly interesting to play. My greatest hope, over the course of season two, is that the audience finds themselves sympathizing and empathizing with Anne and rooting for her. So at the end you are standing next to her, shoulder to shoulder.”As everyone knows, things did not end well for Queen Anne. King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) assumed secular authority over the Catholic clerics in England so that he could divorce Katherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and marry Anne.Anne’s failure to give the king a son led to her downfall. Accused of adultery, she was beheaded in 1536.“The sheer extremity of what she goes through gets more and more intense as the season goes on,” said Dormer. “There are horrific physical and mental trials. Increasingly, she’s the victim of these cruel circumstances.”Dormer read five biographies to prepare for the role.“I’m a bit of a history buff. I love my history,” she said. “But you have to balance that you are not playing in a historical documentary. (Creator and executive producer) Michael Hirst’s script was my bible.”
How was it for Dormer to play a character who she knows is doomed?
“You’re so intensely playing the moment, you don’t see the horizon,” she said. “The pleasure comes from the journey.”
Dormer and Rhys Meyers’ love scenes this season have already garnered attention. The couple were on the cover of a recent TV Guide with the headline “How Far Can TV Go?”
“The intense physical attraction Henry and Anne felt for each other is paramount to the plot,” Dormer said.
Of her revealing scenes, she added, “I think actresses have a responsibility to protect the sisterhood. It is not something you can be flippant about. You wouldn’t do it unless you had given it weighty consideration, which I have.”
The actress hopes her next role is something on the other end of the spectrum – something, say, that involves T-shirts, jeans and running. But she also would relish the opportunity to return to this pivotal time in British history.
“ ‘The Tudors’ is about human existence. The themes are timeless – love, sex, faith, economy, war. That big list never changes. Especially in the world we live in now.”
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