Henry VIII - Press Archive - Weight for it!
Weight for it!
October 7, 2003
TOUGH guy Ray Winstone kept his head while those around him were
losing theirs when he executed his latest TV role. The former boxer took
a step up in the weights to play King Henry VIII in a new two-part
Granada drama about the life of the royal who had six wives.
"It's really flattering for me to play a King," says Ray. "I'm a kid out of
Plaistow and I'm playing one of the most famous Kings of England.
Henry VIII, (ITV1, 9pm, Sunday), co-stars Helena Bonham-Carter as
Anne Boleyn and also features Emilia Fox, David Suchet, Sean Bean,
Charles Dance and Michael Maloney
"My idea of Henry is quite mixed," explains father of three daughters
Ray, married to Manchester-raised wife Elaine for over 20 years.
"I think he was a very troubled man - paranoid and psychotic at times,
while charming and funny at others. The last words his father left him
with were: `You must have a son,' which preyed on his mind for the
rest of his life.
"When Katherine of Aragon couldn't give him a son, Henry had to start
making decisions, and that's when it all started to go wrong for him.
This is a man who allowed two of his wives - women he loved
passionately - to be murdered.
"At the same time, he wrote beautiful love letters, understood science
and, to a certain extent, was a great ambassador. He was an intelligent,
gentle, romantic man who lost his way when it came to love.
"His passion for being an Englishman, his passion for being in love - I can
relate to that. The passion for wanting to be violent at times - I can also
relate to that. But to actually hurt someone you love, I can't understand
Director Pete Travis says the Nil By Mouth and Lenny Blue star was the only
choice for the title role. "It was Ray Winstone as Henry before there was
even a script, a director or a writer," he reveals.
"Ray's casting all made sense to me when you've got a man in history who's
part warrior, part lover, part psychopath and part vulnerable human being.
Which British actor today could play all those roles rolled into one? Ray has
this power to be incredible sexy as well as violent and aggressive and
vulnerable. He really bares his soul."
WEST Ham fan Ray, who lived in Manchester for a number of years and
got married in the city, had plenty to do while filming the four hour production.
"For instance, there was one day when I had sex with Anne Boleyn, she gave
birth, we got married and I raped her - all in the same day!
"Also, I'm playing a 30-year-old Henry right through to 50-year-old Henry. So
you've really got to try to remember what's happening, and what stage you're at."
Filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and on location around
England, including Arundel, Leeds and Berkley Castles, the production,
which concludes at the same time next week, includes four weddings, three
births, six executions, five natural deaths and one funeral. The total number
of costumes exceeded 2,500 and over 10 gallons of fake blood was used in
the two episodes.
But it's Ray's performance which is likely to dominate when the awards are
handed out He actually lost two stone to play the role of athletic warrior
Henry, later putting on a "fat suit" and inserting "face plumpers" inside
his mouth to play the tyrant King in his later years.
The EastEnder raised in Essex also didn't mind parading in Tudor costume
for two months. "I've really enjoyed wearing it all, as I'm usually in a
"You see pictures of people throughout history and you think they are
these stiff characters who are nothing like us. But they are."
So would hard man Ray liked to have lived in that era? "There was certainly
no room for nice guys. It was dog eat dog. So, no, I'll leave the Tudor court
to the 16th century. Definitely not for me."
Henry VIII is on ITV on Sunday, October 12 at 9pm.
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