"Oh my god, two new wives," Jonathan Rhys Meyers says. "It's like, 'That's a little ridiculous!' One was enough!"Of course, this is to be expected, considering The Tudors royal story of Henry VIII's history! For those who missed the first two seasons of The Tudors, Rhys Meyers plays the infamously debonair but vicious Henry, the second monarch of the House of Tudor who's as famous for his reign as he is for his six marriages."Henry is a leader: It is very difficult to lead," Rhys Meyers says. "In Season 1, he was a kid and young men do have redeeming qualities -- a certain idealism. Then Season 2 he realized he was fascinated and obsessed with Anne Boleyn, but not necessarily in love in the way he is with Jane Seymour."By far, season three is the best we've done," he continues. "If love is blind, marriage is an eye-opener...but also, a lot of his trauma snowballs into his 30s as he finds he can't trust anybody, because everybody has their agenda. Look at anybody who goes into power: How young and fresh they look when they enter into their office, and how hardened and cynical they are when they come out of that office! It's the experience of leadership that makes him a very tense person, yet he is a very dangerous man."
As in history, the Henry portrayed in The Tudors is a man controlled by his passions, and, as noted, this season he will give his heart in marriage two more times. Well, maybe not his heart..."Marriage was a commercial venture rather than a love thing," Rhys Meyers says of the era.
"You married and you had children, because children brought you heirs. They brought you security that your legacy can go on. Usually they were arranged for commercial, political or estate value, and every so often a love match happened."
The new season finds Henry settling down with his third wife, Jane, who many historians call the love of his life. Rhys Meyers is hesitant to go that far in terms of The Tudors storyline. "It wasn't the crazy, mad passion of Anne Boleyn," he considers. "He felt very comfortable with Jane Seymour. After Anne Boleyn, it was like, 'Whew. I can use a break.' Jane Seymour was the break. She was the ray of light. She was the ice in your soft drink. It was great but, love really wasn't the issue."
Whatever you call it, any honeymoon on The Tudors doesn't last long. "At the start of Season 3, even though he's still very dangerous, he has found some sort of comfortable family life and then that's snatched away from him," Rhys Meyers teases. "It throws him into further turmoil."
As a rebellion wages in the north, the king will move on to wife number four, and love is definitely not at issue with Anne of Cleves, played by Joss Stone! The pairing, inspired by Thomas Cromwell (played by James Frain), is all about forwarding the Lutheran alliance with England.
"Cromwell was hoping Henry would become more of a figurehead for the Protestant League," Rhys Meyers says and sighs. "But Henry remained Catholic most of his life. Though he did not want to be ruled by the Pope in Rome, he still held on to those strong Catholic beliefs all his life. The religious aspect caused him a lot of turmoil, because after killing so many people, putting people to death at whim, your relationship with God gets very strained."
History dictates the marriage to Anne of Cleves is doomed to fail, but Rhys Meyers insists songtress-turned-actress Joss Stone isn't the problem, even if The Tudors is her very first acting gig."She's just one of these singers who's also an actress," he adds. "I knew she could do it, because interpreting a song and interpreting a scene is very similar. And she's a very easy girl to have chemistry with!"Chemistry is something Rhys Meyers knows well, considering all the loves scenes he has to do as Henry thus far, but he's not complaining. "There are worse things you could do with yourself on a rainy Tuesday morning in Dublin than hop into bed with the likes of Charlotte Salt (Lady Ursula), Natalie Dormer (Anne Boleyn) or indeed, Joss Stone," he says. "But I haven't jumped into bed yet."Rhys Meyers hasn't jumped into bed with Stone yet, that is, and it's not likely he will during her three episode arc. History has it Henry and Anne never sealed the matrimonial deal — or at least, never admitted to it.
History buffs will find inconsistencies between history and Showtime's The Tudors' king, such as age, hair color and even the occasional historical fact, but Rhys Meyers feels no need to apologize.
"We wanted to do something that had the historical back drop of this very fascinating period in time, but we are also making television and it has to be entertaining, so we have to mess with history a little bit," he intones. "You are looking at one perspective of Henry."That's why there were no attempts to turn Rhys Meyers into the plump, bearded, red head we imagine the king was, thanks in large part to the famous Hans Holbein portrait."I suppose I'd like a few extra pounds but, no, I'm not going to turn into the Holbein painting," Rhys Meyers insists. "In school, I was instilled with this image of the food guzzling, beer guzzling, womanizing, rotund monarch. Well, he was a tyrant, a bad politician, a lapsed religious man who was completely out of touch with his spirituality by the time his reign ended and went through a lot of turmoil within that reign, but I had to play him my way. Every new power comes in and alters the history to suit themselves, so I have the freedom to play it how I see him. There is no one on Earth who could tell me exactly what Henry was like."Curiosity peaked? You can check out Rhys Meyers' sexy, dangerous Henry now: With The Tudors season three set to premiere April 5, season two is already airing on Showtime On Demand and available on DVD.
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