Will Henry VIII be Emmy winner Damian Lewis’ first, great post-Nick Brody role? Directed by Peter Kosminsky and written by Peter Straughan (one half of the Oscar-nominated “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” duo), this six-part BBC drama adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s hit novels “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies” will broadcast stateside on PBS April 5.
Lewis plays the eighth Henry opposite top-shelf Shakespeare thespian Mark Rylance, playing the King’s ruthless counselor Thomas Cromwell. Claire Foy, Mark Gatiss, Charity Wakefield, Joanne Whalley and Jonathan Pryce, who was recently seen as a narcissistic asshole professor in Alex Ross Perry’s “Listen Up Philip,” head up the sprawling cast.
The series’ producers and star recently held court at the TV Critics Association’s winter press junket, revealing that the series will turn on the dark heart of Cromwell with all the trappings of TV’s greatest antiheroes: think Walter White, Don Draper, Rust Cole and the seminal, likable bad-boy Tony Soprano.
Another side of the story was also told for the big screen by Fred Zinnemmann in big 1966 Oscar winner “A Man for All Seasons,” a stately period drama pivoting on the power dynamics between Thomas More (Paul Scofield) and Henry VIII (Robert Shaw). Brit historians have, allegedly, already taken umbrage at “Wolf Hall”‘s historical faux pas, but no matter: under the co-producers of “Downton Abbey,” this Euro epic will have no trouble wooing stateside viewers.
Meanwhile, Damian Lewis also has Werner Herzog’s “Queen of the Desert,” starring Nicole Kidman as writer-archaeologist Gertrude Bell and Robert Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence, debuting in Berlin in February.
“Wolf Hall” premieres across the pond on BBC Two this month.