BBC2 are assembling one hell of a cast for their adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall…
Joining Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell is Homeland star Damian Lewis, playing the fiery Tudor King Henry VIII who oversees the meteoric rise of the former blacksmith’s son.
And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss is on board to play haughty secretary to the king, Stephen Gardiner, while former Call the Midwife actress Jessica Raine will appear as Anne’s vengeful sister-in-law, Jane Rochford.
Also among the supporting cast are Joanne Whalley (The Borgias) playing Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) as his second spouse Anne Boleyn, Jonathan Pryce (Cranford) playing Cardinal Wolsey and Anton Lesser (Game of Thrones) as scholar and heretic hunter Thomas More.
Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies chart the fortunes and misfortunes of Thomas Cromwell whose ascent from the working classes to Henry VIII’s right hand man and chief minister saw him oversee the rise and fall of the king’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. The two novels made the author the first woman to receive two Booker Prizes, picking up the award in 2009 and then again in 2012.
The six-part drama has been written by Oscar-nominated Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) with filming already underway in south-west England under the direction of Bafta-winning Peter Kosminsky who worked with Lewis on Warriors back in 1999.
“I love it when an author, such as Hilary Mantel, does her research and discovers an original understanding of a very familiar piece of history,” said Rylance who was confirmed as the drama’s lead last October.
“Even during our rehearsals her detailed imagination of the world of Thomas Cromwell is alive in Peter Straughan’s ingenious and faithful adaptation. I have to say, after my experience on The Government Inspector, I would gladly take part in any film that Peter Kosminsky makes. His ability to grasp complex political situations and bring them to life on film seems particularly suited for this material. Myself aside, I feel he has cast Wolf Hall with a superb eye for character and all the nuanced humanity Ms Mantel’s masterpieces deserve.”
Also set to appear when the drama airs in 2015 are Mathieu Amalric (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Chapuys, Ambassador of Spain, Charity Wakefield (Sense & Sensibility) as Anne’s sister, Mary Boleyn, Richard Dillane (The Dark Knight) as Henry’s best friend, the Duke of Suffolk, Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones) playing Cromwell’s ward Rafe Sadler, Natasha Little (Case Histories) as Cromwell’s wife Liz and Saskia Reeves (Turks & Caicos) playing her sister Joanne.