It's safe to say that the role of King James VI of Scotland and I of England will be one for the (literal) history books for Tony Curran, who stars as the troubled monarch in Sky's Mary & George.


The new series centres on Mary and George Villiers, played by Julianne Moore and Nicholas Galitzine, but the show also chronicles the relationship between George and the king, who has a penchant for alcohol, hunting and having a loyal group of favourites.

Chatting exclusively to about his role in Mary & George, Curran said: “It seems to be quite a powerful show. I’m very proud to be part of it, I think it was quite an ambitious project.

"It was a real pleasure to be part of it, to be asked to play King James which is – I’ve never played anyone like him before. There was a lot of facets to that man, to that King, to that husband, to that father, to that lover. It was a riot.”

He continued: “I would look at pictures of him and think ‘he doesn’t really want to be here, he doesn’t want to be sitting on that throne’. I do feel like he is an under-appreciated monarch. There’s the Elizabethans, the Tudors, you hear a lot more about that – but he was not a warring King."

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Nicholas Galitzine and Tony Curran riding together on a white horse in the middle of a forest with Nicholas leaning on Tony's back.
Nicholas Galitzine as George and Tony Curran as King James I in Mary & George. Sky

As well as being the son of Mary Queen of Scots and succeeding to the Scottish throne at just 13 months old, there was a lot of tragedy and loss in James's life, Curran admits. But how was it to get into the mindset of a king for this new series?

Curran says: "Within all that, to get into his shoes, was very much the trauma that he suffered and I think that trauma comes to the fore with the loneliness that he feels. There's a term: Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the more power you have, sometimes the more lonely you can be.

"I think there was a longing and a loneliness to James that we convey in the show that no matter what sort of background you come from, I think you can maybe empathise with what he was going through and the pressures. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, you know? The vulnerability of him was an important factor to touch on."

Of course, Curran is known for his roles in Mayflies and Your Honor, and is set to star in upcoming Outlander prequel Blood of my Blood. In Mary & George, though, we follow Curran's James as he's introduced to George.

After catching the king's attention, George soon becomes one of his most trusted confidantes, much to other people's dismay. The drama very much centres on this triangle of characters – George, Mary and James – as power is never far from anyone's actions, and the Villiers are soon bestowed with the highest of titles and accolades.

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The series synopsis reads: "Always the smartest person in the room, Mary was never able to realise her full potential until she spots an opportunity to take advantage of the King’s voracious appetite for fine wine, fine company and fine men. George, naïvely beautiful and charismatic, is thrust into the spotlight as his mother masterminds their pursuit of the King.

"Through audacious scheming and seduction, Mary and George claw their way to the centre of Court to become the most powerful family in England. But as George grows in power, his relationship with his mother will be pushed to the very limits. George must prove to himself that he can be defined by more than just his beauty. He must make his mark on history, no matter the consequences."

The Mary & George cast also includes Nicola Walker (Unforgotten), Niamh Algar (Malpractice), Trine Dyrholm (Queen of Hearts), as well as Sean Gilder (Shameless), Samuel Blenkin (Black Mirror) and Adrian Rawlins (Chernobyl).

Mary & George comes to Sky Atlantic and NOW on Tuesday 5th March. Find Sky deals here. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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