Becoming Elizabeth is the new historical drama you do not want to miss.
Premiering on Sunday, June 12 on Starz, the eight-part series focuses on the early years of Elizabeth I (played by Alicia von Rittberg) and the political struggle she and her half-siblings—future Queen Mary I (played by Romola Garai) and King Edward VI (Oliver Zetterström)—faced following the death of their father, King Henry VIII.
Not only will their claim to the throne be challenged, but the siblings will also find themselves torn apart by religion, war, and romance.
Some of the cast members of Becoming Elizabeth spoke to Newsweek all about their characters and what it was like to bring the famous Tudor family to life.
Alicia von Rittberg portrays the titular character Queen Elizabeth I in Becoming Elizabeth.
Meet The Becoming Elizabeth Cast And Their Real-Life CharactersQueen Elizbeth I — Alicia von RittbergGerman actress Alicia von Rittberg portrays the titular character Queen Elizabeth I in Becoming Elizabeth.
The daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I would eventually ascend to the throne in November 1558, ruling England and Ireland until she died in 1603. She was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.
When audiences first meet Elizabeth, she is not yet queen and instead, is a young princess figuring out who she really is and what kind of queen she wants to become.
Speaking to Newsweek about bringing a young Queen Elizabeth I to the screen, Rittberg shared: “I think I was surprised at how much I was allowed to make her vulnerable and emotional and, how much you can actually see that she is, not necessarily the strong, independent woman yet but actually, is a young girl just trying to find her way and building her own opinion and finding her voice in a very male-dominated world.
“I think that it was just so beautiful to find all of these nuances in a character that’s so complex and yet, so brilliant and smart, the way she leans back and observes and learns before she comes to a conclusion and as she navigates her way through the Royal Court and politics and religion and love. I think she’s just very very smart.”
Rittberg is best known internationally for her role as Emma in the 2014 film Fury, starring alongside Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman. She has also appeared in numerous German films and television series, including Charité, Genius, Resistance, and Balloon.
Queen Mary I — Romola GaraiGolden Globe and BAFTA nominee Romola Garai stars as Queen Mary I, the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon in Becoming Elizabeth on Starz.
Also known as Mary Tudor and Bloody Mary by her protestant opponents, Mary I was a devout Catholic who was Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death in 1558. During her reign, she attempted to reverse the English Reformation, started by her own father.
Speaking to Newsweek, Garai teased that the story of Queen Mary I is really “rich” and hopes audiences will learn more about her by watching Becoming Elizabeth.
She shared: “I didn’t know very much about her. I think that is probably the case for quite a lot of people. Even though we’re very familiar with the Tudors, I think she is usually excluded from dramatic interpretations but that’s because she’s largely been ignored by the history books and that is not an accident, because, the great project of her reign was to restore Catholicism which meant that obviously, Protestant historians kind of wrote her off as either a very weak queen, or a very violent queen and she was never really kind of given that much thought. But, she was an incredibly interesting woman and her story is really rich.
“I felt like Anya [Reiss, creator] had really tapped into the kind of the core of her which was really this kind of incredibly complex relationship that she had with her father and the fact that her father, who was an abuser, kind of kept her from her mother after they divorced and that kind of really cemented her relationship with Catholicism and that was the kind of the core of everything, that dictated the kind of course of her whole life and really informed her relationship with her siblings. It was all very kind of rich subject matter and very interesting.”
For her performance as Emma in the TV adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, starring alongside Jonny Lee Miller and Sir Michael Gambon, Garai was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
She also received a BAFTA Best Actress nomination for her role as Sugar in The Crimson Petal and the White.
Her other well-known credits include One Day, Atonement, Suffragette, The Miniaturist, and The Windermere Children.
Romola Garai as Queen Mary I in Becoming Elizabeth on Starz.
King Edward VI — Oliver ZetterströmUp and coming actor Oliver Zetterström portrays a young King Edward VI in Becoming Elizabeth.
The real Edward succeeded his father Henry VIII when he was just nine years old in 1547. He ruled England and Ireland until his death in 1553 at 15 years old. He was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour and the first English monarch to be raised Protestant as a result of his father’s Protestant Reformation.
As he never reached maturity, his reign was governed by a regency council consisting of his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset followed by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick.
Oliver Zetterström portrays a young King Edward VI in Becoming Elizabeth.
Catherine Parr — Jessica RaineJessica Raine plays the role of Catherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six wives in Becoming Elizabeth.
As seen in Becoming Elizabeth, Catherine Parr had a close relationship with her late husband’s three children, Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward. In his will, Henry VIII stated Parr was to rule as regent until his son Edward came of age but he did not give her any function in government in his will, making her claim to the throne difficult.
She married her fourth and final husband, Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley in 1547, the younger brother of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, and Lord Protector of England.
Raine is best known for her role as Jenny Lee in Call the Midwife and Emily Waters in Informer.
Thomas Seymour — Tom CullenTom Cullen stars as Thomas Seymour in Becoming Elizabeth.
Thomas Seymour was the brother of Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII.
As seen in Becoming Elizabeth, Thomas Seymour not only married Catherine Parr, but he also has a relationship with a young Elizabeth I.
It is unknown in reality if Thomas Seymour and Elizabeth had any sort of relationship, or if the relationship was genuinely romantic or abusive.
Thomas Seymour also fought with his brother, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, and the Lord Protector of England over control of their nephew, King Edward VI.
Cullen is best known for his role as Anthony Foyle, Viscount Gillingham in Downton Abbey, and Sir Landry in Knightfall.
Tom Cullen as Thomas Seymour and Jessica Raine as Catherine Parr in Becoming Elizabeth.
Lady Jane Grey — Bella RamseyBella Ramsey plays the role of Lady Jane Grey in Becoming Elizabeth on Starz.
In 1553 when King Edward VI was dying, he attempted to remove his half-sister Mary I from the line of succession, fearing she would attempt to reverse the Protestant Reformation. Upon his death, his counsel proclaimed Lady Jane Grey as Queen.
Known as the “Nine Days’ Queen,” a teenage Lady Jane Grey claimed the throne of England and Ireland from July 10 until July 19, 1553. She was removed by Queen Mary I.
Ramsey is best known for playing young noblewoman Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones and Angelica in His Dark Materials.
Also starring in Becoming Elizabeth are:
John Heffernan as Duke of SomersetJacob Avery as Guildford DudleyAlexandra Gilbreath as Kat AshleyJamie Blackley as Robert DudleyLeo Bill as Henry GreyEkow Quartey as PedroAlex Macqueen as Stephen GardinerOlivier Huband as Ambassador GuzmanRobert Whitelock as Robert KettBecoming Elizabeth airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Starz and Starzplay.
Source : Newsweek