The Tudors News Site

Fat gets the chop for sexy old Henry VIII
September 28, 2008, 2:19 pm
Filed under: The Cast

Henry VII, England’s most famously fat monarch, is to be slimmed down so that he retains his sex appeal for a television audience.

The makers of The Tudors, being shown on BBC2, have said Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who plays Henry in the costume drama, will not be required to put on a fat suit to reflect the aged king’s swollen girth. Henry, who died in 1547, is thought to have grown to more than 20st, with a waist of 54in; at the end of his life he needed a hoist to lift him onto his horse.

The makers of the saga have already been accused of taking too much licence with history. Now they have decided that, in the planned fourth series, Henry will remain svelte in his old age.

“We still want him to be appealing,” said Morgan O’Sullivan, an executive producer.

“We don’t want to destroy his good looks. An exact portrayal of Henry is not a factor that we think is important.

“We are not in the business of making Johnny look like Henry VIII. We have accepted that from day one. We have been criticised for not casting someone with red hair. But you either cast him exactly like Henry VIII, or you choose to deal with it differently.

“We chose from the start to have him looking fit. So there will never be a fat suit. That would be unreal.”

Producers say they have aged Rhys Meyers, 31, “quite a bit” in the series, but he has made it clear that, as well as shunning the fat suit, he will not be stuffing himself with food to bulk up. Rhys Meyers has argued that actors “are not famous because they’re plug-ugly”.

The second series of The Tudors, now halfway through, is attracting about 2m viewers a week. The third is being filmed at Ardmore Studios, in Co Wicklow, Ireland. It takes the saga up to Henry’s divorce from Anne of Cleves, his fourth wife, played by Joss Stone, the singer.

Critics have noted that the makers of the series, which include Working Title, have been happy to distort history for dramatic effect.

Thomas Wolsey, Henry’s lord chancellor and the Archbishop of York, committed suicide in the series. In fact, he fell ill and died in Leicester in 1530 on his way to London to face treason charges. Henry VIII’s sister is called Princess Margaret in the series, but her character is based on the king’s other sister, Mary. This was done so viewers would not confuse her with Henry’s daughter Mary.


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