BWW Interview: WOLF HALL Tony Nominees Reveal How They Got Their Roles!
Screen Actors Guild Foundation and Broadway World have partnered for a filmed Conversations Q&A series to recognize and celebrate the vibrant theatre community in New York City and the actors who aspire to have a career on the stage and screen. Richard Ridge of "Backstage with Richard Ridge" sat down with "Wolf Hall: Parts I and II" lead cast members Nathaniel Parker (King Henry VIII), Ben Miles (Thomas Cromwell), and Lydia Leonard (Anne Boleyn) to talk about the play and their careers.
Check out a sneak peek of the interview below in which Nathaniel Parker, Lydia Leonard, and Ben Miles discuss how "Wolf Hall" happened for each of them. Check back Sunday morning to watch the full interview!
it back to the beginning, how did "Wolf Hall" happen for each of you? How did you each get cast? Were you offered? How did it all happen?
Nathaniel Parker: I'll start. I was offered. I was offered, and I turned it down, twice. Yes, that is how stupid I am. I was doing a play at the time called "The Audience" which is now here as well with Helen Mirren. I was doing that in the West End, and one of the co-producers on that is our producer here, who is with Playful who partners with RSC. And Georgia and Matt who run the play for us said, "Do you want to do this?" and I said, "No. I don't want to do any more theatre. It's enough for me now, it's too much time away from home." And they came out and followed me and said, "Please do it!" and I went, "No. I need to go earn some money." And then they gave me the script and I went, "Oh, damn." [Laughs] And then I met with Jeremy, our amazing director, and I have to admit, came out of that meeting a little shell-shocked. I said to him, "This is such a cinematic script, how are you going to do it?" He said, "Oh, we are just going to move the characters as quickly as possible on and off the stage as quick as you can." And I thought, he's this 6-foot 4[inches] giant, and this is not the answer I wanted. I wanted something clever.
I happened to be doing a play, a radio play, that day and I went to work. And a wonderful actress named Penelope Wilton, who is one of Jeremy's muses really, and she said, "I hear you're working with Jeremy!" And I said, "Hmm, I don't know." And she went, "Oh no, you must! He's the best!" So that persuaded me, and that's when that afternoon I said, "I'll do it." And it has been the most wonderfully rewarding experiences. Jeremy is such a great mate, and I think he is one of the best directors on the planet, I can't see a rival. So, that's how I got into it.
Lydia Leonard: I actually did a reading of the play, probably about three and a half years ago. I wasn't working, and so I would do readings as lots of people would do. And I wasn't reading Anne; the play are kind of both about four hours long at that point. I was reading about five different people called Mary, and three Elizabeths, none of which are still in the play. And I thought, because they were still in development, and normally I'm not a fan of adaptations really on the stage, so it's really a testament to everyone involved, how these really, really stand on their own. I wasn't at all too enthusiastic at the prospect of it. I could see, well I thought, that I really related to the character of Anne, I could see it was a possibility that it could be offered to me. And low and behold, and year and a half later, I went and met Jeremy and he offered me the part.
I have to say I was quite reluctant in doing it, stupidly, because I had no idea how popular the books were already. And when people told me I thought it was even more of an obstacle doing an adaptation because you have so much to live up to. But again, like Nat, really, really wanted to work with Jeremy, who I really admired. And thank goodness I did because the role is incredible, obviously, and it's turned out to be the most extraordinary experience.
Ben Miles: I lost a bet. [Laughs] No, I got a phone call from my agent, I remember I was sat in my car when the phone rang and he said, "They want you to play Thomas Cromwell in "Wolf Hall" at the RSC." And it came from nowhere. I heard it was happening awhile before that. I think it was the October; this is April 2013, and I think it was October 2012; I bumped into an old mate of mine who is a producer at the RSC, at my local subway station, tube station we call it. And I said, "I heard you're doing "Wolf Hall" at the RSC." And he said, "Yeah! I think we are, I think we are." And I said to him, "I'd love to see the scripts just out of interest" because I was reading the books at the time. And he said, "Would you really?" I said, "Yeah!" And as I said that was October/November. And the following spring I get a phone call with the offer to play Thomas Cromwell. Nothing had happened in between at all [Laughs]. You have to be careful who you meet on the subway.
Check back Sunday for the full interview!
Nathaniel Parker (King Henry VIII): Broadway: Merchant of Venice. West End: Wolf Hall, The Audience, Speed The Plow, Merchant Of Venice. RSC: Richard II,Winter's Tale. TV: "Inspector Lynley" as Inspector Lynley, "Bleak House," "Vanity Fair," "Far From The Madding Crowd," "Injustice," "Dancing Queen," "Merlin," "Nuremberg Trials," "Never Come Back," "The Bible - David," "The Vision Thing," "A Class Apart," "Absolute Hell," "Village Affair," "Trust," "Into Thin Air," "Still Life," "The Outcast." Film: Stardust, The Bodyguard, Flawless, The Haunted Mansion, Othello, Hamlet, Squanto, Perfect Host, War Requiem. Fade To Black, Lover's Prayer, Beverly Hills Ninja, Malice In Wonderland.
Lydia Leonard (Anne Boleyn): West End: Onassis, Let There Be Love, Time and the Conways (National Theatre), Frost/Nixon, Hecuba (and at BAM). TV: "River," "Life in Squares" (Virginia Woolf), "Lucan," "Ambassadors," "Da Vinci's Demons," "Whitechapel," "The 39 Steps," "Margaret Thatcher," "The Line of Beauty," "Jericho," "Rome," "Midsommer Murders," "Foyle's War." Film: The Fifth Estate, Archipelago.
Ben Miles (Thomas Cromwell): Theatre includes: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet (RSC); Love Love Love and My Child (Royal Court); Betrayal (Harold Pinter Theatre); Measure for Measure and The Tower (Almeida); The Normal Conquests and Richard II (Old Vic); The Cherry Orchard, The London Cuckolds, Mary Stuart(National Theatre); The Winter's Tale (Young Vic) and The Tempest (Phoebus Cart). Television includes: "Dracula," "Zen," "The Promise," "Coupling," "Lark Rise to Candleford," "Prime Suspect," "Forsyte Saga," "Cold Feet," "The Hollow Crown 2" (BBC 2016). Film includes Ninja Assassin, Speed Racer, V for Vendetta.