Interview with Annabelle Wallis

Annabelle Wallis plays the part of Jane Seymour, one of the wives of Henry VIII, in the historic drama-series "The Tudors". Here Annabelle talks about her thoughts on the personality of the shortlived Queen of England, what it was like to act in these opulent costumes, and she regales us with a funny anecdote about working with Jonathan Rhys Meyers.


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1. What is your favorite moment of your childhood?

There are so many; beach picnic's with all my childhood friends, music and dancing in the garden, trips to Africa.

2. When and why did you decide to become an actress?

As a child I was always encouraged to discover what I was truly about. My parents supported me in everything I chose to do. Thus giving me the confidence to believe that anything is possible. I was always theatrical, but also incredibly shy growing up. for me acting is alot about personal experience, wisdom, the awareness of self and others. I've always known I wanted to act, but admitting it and doing it take their time. I was verging on 13/14 until I had the confidence to act on pursuing performance.

3. You played Jane Seymour on "The Tudors". What was it like auditioning for this part?

I had heard of the concept of "The Tudors" and thought it was a great idea, but a huge risk to make a historical TV drama that would appeal to not only a small niche (as historical programs tend to do) but to a mass audience. I was taken by the Michael Hirst's writing. Michael is capable of making history current and accessible and keeping it true to fact... he was able to add glamour and a modern sex appeal in his writing. Once I had read one episode I was hooked. They asked me to read for Jane and I went looking as classical as I could. Having done all the research for the audition I remember feeling that all I wanted was to make my Jane as likeable as possible, Jane was the love of Henry's life; an honest and honourable woman. In auditions all you can do is attempt "truth" and keep it natural. Thats what I did.

4. Were you especially interested in playing a historic figure?

Historical figures are always an interesting challenge. On one had you have the literature to do all the research and get an idea of who the character you are playing was; as a human, as a monarch, a lover, a friend. But in our day and age there is so much information available it becomes a challenge on its own knowing who's take on your character you trust. Playing a queen of course is an honour, but a big pressure to get it right. Historical pieces are incredibly rich in dialogue and costume. "The Tudors" being so opulent and visually rich; it was a dream set to work on. I love history and so playing historical characters is always something I am interested in.

5. In your portrayal Jane Seymour comes across as a very generous, loving, gracious woman. Do you think she would have been a good queen next to Henry VIII had she lived longer?

I believe Jane would have been a wonderful ruler. She was very intelligent about the way she dealt with her position. She was what I like to refer as a "quiet storm" in that she knew that being the one whom Henry loved and trusted, put her in a very powerful position. Yet she made every calculated decision regarding her faith and re-uniting Henry with his daughters Mary and Elizabeth that put the monarchy and henry back in favour with his countrymen. I believe she truly loved Henry and that she would have been a good voice of reason. I think his heart was truly broken when she died. Such a sad ending.

6. It must have been difficult to love a man like Henry VIII. She even dealt with his unfaithfulness understandingly. Can you relate to any of her actions in particular?

A lot of people ask me about how she dealt with his unfaithfulness. What most people don't realize is that in the tudor period it was common for married men to take on mistresses. It was customary for men of wealth and stature to take on mistresses. As a woman who genuinely loves a man, like jane loved henry... of course this would be hard. I believe Jane was able to bring out a softer side in Henry. The audience gets a chance to see Henry as a human being, with a softer side. Showing more compassion. A man with so much power easily makes bad decisions, it is always the bad decisions that end up defining historical characters. But in the episodes with Jane the audience is allowed to feel a bit more for Henry and see him as more of a human being rather than the tyrant he is famous for. The way Johnny played him was wonderful and so if Henry was anything like that, gentle and sweet with the one he loves... then how can a woman's heart fall elsewhere when a powerful man lets down his guard to love only you. You can't help who you love, but yet if henry wanted you... he had you, I'm not sure she had much choice either!

7. What was it like on set with all the historic costumes, settings and horses? Did it feel like being transported back in time?

The costumes on the Tudors were out of this world. As an actor your costume is so much a part of getting into character and on a period set, everthing changes... your posture due to the corsets and weight of the clothes. Working with the horses was great, although trying to mount a horse with four layers of the queen's cloaks and a duvet like underskirt plus a fur cape was virtually impossible!! I might as well have been carrying another person on my back!! You do feel like you have been transported back in time. We would film the court scenes and you'd look around the room at all your friends all dressed up in period costume and laugh! It's like playing adult dress up.

8. Can you image living at court? Never being alone, always surrounded by maids and intrigues by courtiers and parvenus?

Living at court would be like living in a village somewhere. where everyone knows your business. I dont know that it would be for me, yet again i haven't yet been proposed to by a prince... that may be able to sway me. The more powerful you became in court, the more you had to watch your back. In a time when you lived and died by your beliefs and your moral code, meant that anything you did; inclusive of gossip or rumors could cost you your life. One can wonder at times how rulers became such tyrants, and of course, any actions that are harmful to others are inexcusable. But if you were surrounded by courtiers, ladies in waiting, grooms, noblemen whom are all at your beck and call, one could imagine it would be easy to become frustrated or spoiled... it seems to me that court is a feeding ground for sycophants and social climbers ready to get you out of their way... maybe if that prince proposes... I may think twice ;)

9. What was it like working with Jonathan Rhys Meyers? He is a very intense actor and portrays Henry VIII with a stunning impact. What was the atmosphere like in between the scenes?

Johnny is so amazing. He makes himself so believable as a tyrant but what people don't know is that he is so funny. He keeps everyone laughing and is incredibly supportive to actors that are new on set. He would always ask me what potato chip flavours I hated the most and I'd say "Hmmm... I think I'd say cheese and onion would be the most disgusting". The next shot was a kissing scene and low and behold he'd have a mouth full of cheese and onion chips ready to kiss me with. Very funny, Johnny!

10. You guest starred in "Jericho". What do you remember best of working on this show?

The level of professionalism. The costumes. It all worked like clock-work. A very inspiring set to be on.

11. If you could choose to put together an entire crew for a movie: Who would be the director? Who would be the writer? And who would be in the leading role(s)?

This is a very hard question. I'd say director: Chris Cunningham. He's a friend of mine and has the most unique vision. I have the utmost respect and admiration for his work... I know he'd challnge me and get the best out of me. Duncan Jones could write the screen play. Cast... hmmm. Marion Cotillard, Meryl Streep, Leo DiCaprio, Al Pacino... good enough?

12. What is your favorite place in the world? Where do you feel most comfortable?

Africa and Portugal are my favorite places in the world. Africa is the most life-changing place in the world. The landscape, the animals, the people. If i have any advice to anyone... its go explore Africa before it changes too much. Portugal is my home. I grew up there. It is my inspiration it is the country that made me who i am. It is where i feel so at home and happy.

13. Can you tell us something about the film you are currently working on?

Madonna is my director. Its about Edward and Wallis Simpson set in the late 30s.

14. What do you as an artist think about platforms like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace?

I am a very private person naturally. I find it hard to accept that people can know one's where abouts and information so easily. But yet its a great form of existentialism. You can recreate yourself time and time again. The access to music, film , fashion, and any form of creative outlet is so astonishing... we are a generation in the midst of a creative revolution; where the technology in creating and accessing art in any form is right at our finger tips. It's all about being creative and responsible about how we use it and, as an artist, protecting ourselves from the social backlash of too much information and accessibility.

15. Since myFanbase is an online magazine about TV series, do you have a favorite show?

"Curb Your Enthusiasm". I am a total Larry David fan. I have such a crush it's silly. Apart from that, we are in an age of television. Television now rivals film in every way. I saw "The Pacific" and was blown away. Shows like "Mad Men", that are both so visually stunning and script savvy, are amazing too.

Nicole Oebel - myFanbase