Long before Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom was ruled by another famous queen, who faced adversity and threats before she ever ascended the throne. The story of Queen Elizabeth I has been told countless times, but a new Starz series is poised to open the chapters of history we don’t often discuss. Becoming Elizabeth relates the story of Queen Elizabeth I when she was just a princess, and stars Alicia von Rittberg and Tom Cullen spoke exclusively with SheKnows’ Reshma Gopaldas about the “brutal, dark world” the series brings back to life.
“[It’s about] a young girl coming of age in a very brutal, dark world,” von Rittberg, who plays Elizabeth, says of the new Starz period drama series, which debuts tonight. The British series also shines a light on royal “family affairs,” with a particular emphasis on Elizabeth and her half-siblings Edward and Mary. If these names sound even slightly familiar, then we’re going to guess you earned top marks in your history class when you got to the Tudor era.
Elizabeth was the second daughter of King Henry VIII, who was known (outside of any political pitfalls and triumphs) for his six wives — two he divorced, one who died, one who survived, and two of whom the monarch had beheaded, including Elizabeth’s mother Anne Boleyn. Following King Henry VIII’s death, his only son, Edward, ascended the throne of England when he was barely 10 years old. Becoming Elizabeth finds the Tudor children at the very moment they learn of their father’s death.
From then on, everything changes for Elizabeth, who must find allies in a new court and navigate the changing monarchy. “She’s such a complex character,” von Rittberg says of the Elizabethan monarch. “I think what she did, who she became, after such an incredibly lonely and hard childhood, is just incredible. I’m very lucky to have the honor to play her.”
Becoming Elizabeth premieres on Starz Sunday, June 12.
Before you go, check out the all-time best ‘Outlander’ episodes you need to watch.