6 things to know about the historical drama series

(Photo by Jason Bell/Starz)

Almost 500 years after his death, the fascination with the Tudor dynasty of the English genre Henry VIII, his wives and his offspring does not seem to stop.

The past two years have given us Amy Manson as the ghost of Henry’s most famous wife, Anne Boleyn, in the Princess Diana biopic. spencerJodie Turner-Smith portraying that same fallen queen in the self-titled AMC+ miniseries and hit musical Six which offers a modern account of all of Henry’s wives.

But what of the formative years of Henry’s three legitimate descendants, his son Edward and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth? The trio of half-siblings spent their early years as pawns as their father’s friends and foes vied for power – often despite their safety and well-being or that of their mother. This undoubtedly had an impact on how each of them reigned when they succeeded in ascending to the throne.

The new Starz miniseries, Become Elizabeth looks at the formative years of Henry’s most successful heiress: Queen Elizabeth I. Set the story of her teenage years in the wake of Henry’s death, it examines how the then-Princess (pictured by Alicia von Rittberg, herself a German countess) came to hers to find out who she can trust while allowing our seemingly more worldly eyes to dissect the political and social minefield she had to navigate.

1. The series tells the story of Elizabeth I’s teenage years

Becoming Elizabeth Alicia von Rittberg

(Photo by Nick Briggs/Starz)

Elizabeth was in her mid-teens when her father died, and she relied heavily on her last stepmother, Catherine Parr (portrayed by Jessica Raine), for guidance and accommodation.

“I tried to develop a blind spot for Elizabeth as the queen that we know because I didn’t want to be swayed by something that I didn’t know yet, as a character,” Von Rittberg said of the young monarch and what life had in store for her. .

She says there was little research available on Elizabeth’s teenage years, so she practiced skills she knew she would likely have learned, such as horse riding, piano and dancing. And she drew on her own memories of being a young girl who first fell in love.

2. Thomas Seymour is a predator

becoming elizabeth Alicia von Rittberg Tom Cullen

(Photo by Nick Briggs/Starz)

Things got complicated when Catherine married Thomas Seymour, the uncle of Elizabeth’s half-brother and who is pictured here by Downton Abbeyit’s Tom Cullen. He was particularly interested in Catherine’s neighborhood, probably for his own political gain, although that was not obvious to a naive child.

“I used to think that in the story, people had a more ruthless personality and people didn’t have the same kind of humanity as us,” creator and executive producer Anya Reiss told Rotten. Tomatoes. She says she worked on the principle that “now we’ve all evolved to this place where we care if someone cheats on us and we know you shouldn’t use children and you shouldn’t murder co-workers in the middle of London”. .”

But, after doing her research, she learned that “there are truths that always hold true” and that “we get away with it too much by saying ‘Oh, we’ve evolved to this point’ rather than realizing it. that things have always been like this. way, and people have always suffered the consequences.

Executive producer George Ormond compares the historical significance of this relationship to his previous work on the Hulu miniseries. national treasure. This story is about a British actor (Robbie Coltrane’s Paul Finchley) who played a beloved TV character so well that it impacted how society saw him – especially after being accused of multiple counts of rape.

In this story, says Ormond, “there is no doubt that Thomas’ relationship with Elizabeth was really detrimental to her and really influenced how she felt about people and how she perceived the relationships around her throughout her life. adult life”.

But also, he says, Thomas is “incredibly charming.”

“He’s very funny, he pays attention to her, he listens to her, he asks her about herself,” Ormond says. “And, in a world where she’s surrounded by people who are so obviously trying to use her for political gain, I think that’s very attractive to her.”

3. Stepbrothers Elizabeth, Edward and Mary try to get along

becoming elizabeth Alicia von Rittberg Romola Garai Oliver Zetterström

(Photo by Starz)

Become Elizabeth Creator Reiss laughs that there’s no way to survive with Henry VIII as a father without needing intense therapy.

Mary (played by Romola Garai) and Edward (played by Oliver Zetterström) are part of this story, with Ormond pointing out that, especially because they all have different mothers, the siblings are “very much like a modern family, where they have to get along and they love and hate each other at the same time.

During the show’s panel at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in February, von Rittberg said that Elizabeth’s relationship with her father was “too difficult to get it right, I Assumed”.

“Elizabeth was basically incredibly alone in this world and grew up without her mother, and I think her father gave her that last sense of security in a way,” the actress now says of what the princess has must have felt at the death of the man. who ordered the murder of his mother, adding: “It’s a matter of ‘Where do I belong from?’ which suddenly appears too. And it can be incredibly scary when you’re so young.

4. Lady Jane Gray is the loneliest girl

Becoming Elizabeth Bella Ramsey Lady Jane Gray

(Photo by Jason Bell/Starz)

Elizabeth isn’t the only young girl to get caught up in adult male power games. Unless you’re a fan of early work by Cary Elwes and Helena Bonham Carter, Jane Gray (represented here by game of thrones‘ Bella Ramsey) is now mostly a footnote in history thanks to her brief reign between Edward and Mary that came to a tragic end.

In Become Elizabeth, the audience sees a shy and clumsy Jane taken into the custody of Catherine Parr by her own scheming parents. Reiss told the TCA panel that one of the fun things about researching this show is that it has to “do people’s stories before they appear in the history books to be famous.” .

“It’s all these bits of history that you would never really know because they’re added in a footnote later,” she said. “You have no idea where they came from, or that they were related to this person, or they knew this, or they saw this.”

Von Rittberg then adds that it is “essentially a coming-of-age story set in a political drama, set in a family drama”.

5. Don’t expect historical accuracy

becoming elizabeth Alicia von Rittberg Tom Cullen

(Photo by Starz)

The story is often used as a setting for lust and romance as well as a contemporary look at politics (see also: The CW’s Reign and Showtime The Tudors). That doesn’t always mean that everything you see on TV is historically accurate.

“The story is an interpretation of a series of events, and it’s Anya’s interpretation,” Cullen told Rotten Tomatoes. “The show is historically accurate. Everything that happens in the series happened for real. But in some ways, I really felt that this show is a very contemporary look at a young woman finding out who she is.

He adds that he believes our obsession with this period is because with the Tudors, “life and death are really on a very thin line”.

6. So is Thomas Seymour bad? The story here suggests that Elizabeth I is a survivor

becoming Elizabeth Alicia von Rittberg

(Photo by Nick Briggs/Starz)

Reiss told reporters during TCA, “I really, as a general rule, don’t believe in bad guys. I believe people do really bad things, but I’m not really interested in someone being a villain or a hero in this. I’m just interested in these real people and trying to make a world out of them.

Von Rittberg echoed that sentiment during the panel, saying the show is meant to be like “those untouchable characters from books and movies, but making them touchable; making them so human that you understand how they grew up, how they were children, how they were raised, how they became these icons.


Becoming Elizabeth: Season 1
premieres at 9 p.m., June 12 on Starz.

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