It’s not long into Henry VII’s reign on Starz’s Sunday night drama “The White Princess,” and with unrest throughout the land, the newly-crowned King is ruling the kingdom from a place of fear.
“100 percent governing by fear, through fear,” actor Jacob Collins-Levy told AccessHollywood.com when we asked him about how his character, Henry Tudor, is living and ruling ahead of Episode 2 (especially considering the recent scene where young Teddy had to pledge his allegiance). “That’s exactly the place he’s moving from, I think. He’s completely out of [his] depth. He doesn’t know what’s going on.”
At Henry’s side advising him as he makes decisions as the new ruler is his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort (Michelle Fairley). But, since he grew up in France, Henry and Margaret aren’t close like his new wife (The White Princess, Lizzie of York) and her mother (Elizabeth of York).
“I think there’s affection there, but he doesn’t quite know her yet. And I don’t think he trusts her yet. And I think he’s starting to kind of find his feet there because it is kind of the first time they’ve really been together since he was very young. So, I think he’s just kind of figuring out Margaret,” Jacob said.
In last Sunday’s episode, Margaret told her son that once his wife, Lizzie, gives birth to their son, he has to remove Lizzie’s (influential) mother, Elizabeth, from court. Asked how his character feels about that (viewers know she’s beginning to plot against him), Jacob said we’ll have to wait and see.
“I can’t give too much away. I think he’s taking it all in when we see him. That scene in the chapel, I remember being told, ‘Make sure it’s inscrutable,’ by the director Jamie … and as the actor, to not show too much what he’s actually thinking about this. And I think the main part where I played that is when Margaret gives him kind of advice, or tells him he must do something, it was important for me to not show too much [of] how he actually feels — to anyone really,” Jacob said.
“I don’t think he is too aware at this stage, in Episode 1, of what to do with Elizabeth,” he added of his character’s mother-in-law. “You’ll see what happens in later episodes. But yeah, that’s all I think I can say on that for now.”
To inform his performance of Henry in “The White Princess,” Jacob read two biographies of the monarch. He also studied portraits of Henry Tudor.
“There were two that I looked at mainly – one of him when he was young, when he was the Earl of Richmond, and the other one when he was 50, maybe. Not long before he passed, so maybe late 40s,” Jacob told Access when we caught up with him again on the red carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of Starz’s “American Gods.” “And you kind of compare those two and try and come up with a kind of physical appearance of him and the way he moves and stuff just from what you can see depicted.”
The costumes, which were designed by Phoebe de Gaye, were also integral to getting into the headspace of the monarch – from fitted armor, to the gigantic coronation robe.
“The entire costume helps you get into character,” Jacob said. “It makes you feel of the period and it makes you feel like the individual, it makes you feel like the character. So, I always find that stuff a blessing. It can be uncomfortable, but you kind of use that.”
“The White Princess” airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on Starz.
— Jolie Lash
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