As with any adaptation, fans of the Shardlake books will likely be keeping a close eye on the new Disney Plus series as it debuts, checking to see how faithfully it has retold the story originally written by the late author CJ Sansom.


Well, the show's stars Arthur Hughes, who plays Matthew Shardlake, and Anthony Boyle, who plays Jack Barak, have spoken exclusively with, and assured fans that it's a "pretty faithful retelling of the book".

Hughes explained: "I think one notable difference is that Shardlake meets Barak much earlier. In the books he's met in the second book, but his original companion in the first book doesn't come back - that's kind of it. And with Barak, their relationship is, I think, so much more interesting."

Boyle added that he thinks "Barak’s a more interesting character than the lad in the first book", referring to the character Mark Poer. "They butt heads a bit more, it becomes a bit more like a buddy movie, like a cop movie."

Arthur Hughes and Anthony Boyle in Shardlake. They are dress in Tudor England clothing as they look at each other
Arthur Hughes and Anthony Boyle in Shardlake. Disney+

Hughes continued: "Exactly, there’s a longer way to go with them, and I think that’s why Barak was brought forward. But other than that, I think it's like a dark, creepy, like, cop show, haunted house story.

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"And I think that's really what we've done, I think that's really what it looks like. So I hope fans of the book, and fans who aren't, will really dig that."

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The other member of the central trio at the heart of the drama is Thomas Cromwell, played by Sean Bean. He sets the story into motion, sending Shardlake and Barak, two unlikely partners, to investigate a murder at a monastery.

Bean also spoke with and explained why he took on the role of Cromwell, saying that it was the character's "mischievousness and his ruthlessness" that he found most enticing.

"And also his charm and the pleasure he took is these belongings that [had] been stolen from the church, the relics and the skull of Saint Barbara and the way he handled them," he explained. "There was something quite creepy about that."

He continued: "And I like the fact he was quite a dark character, apparently was quite a humorous man when he wasn't at work. I found him quite creepy, quite scary, which apparently he was, so that was something that was very nice to play, very rewarding to play, that aspect of his character."

Shardlake premieres on Disney Plus on Wednesday 1st May. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now.


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