The actress makes the role her own as she breathes new life into the real-life story of ill-fated royal.
Prepare to see Anne Boleyn like you’ve never seen her before as Jodie Turner-Smith takes over playing the queen in the three-part, AMC+ historical drama chronicling the royal’s infamous downfall. Penned by Eve Hedderwick Turner, the series revisits the final months of King Henry VIII’s wife's life as she attempts to push back on the patriarchy while securing her daughter’s future.
Ahead of Anne Boleyn’s debut on the streaming platform, ET has an exclusive look at Turner-Smith as the queen, who attempts to navigate her fraught relationship with the moody and temperamental king (played here by Game of Thrones actor Mark Stanley).
A devout fan of Tudors history and longtime reader of Philippa Gregory’s novels about the royal family, Turner tells ET that Boleyn’s story always stuck out to her. “It was clear that she had a tough ride, and that the many splashy, provocative words that had been used to describe her -- ‘traitor, cheater, seductress, witch’ -- were distracting from what was really a story of a complex, intelligent, ambitious woman being targeted by the patriarchy and murdered by her husband,” she says, determined to tell the queen’s story from her perspective rather than the king’s.
What sets this depiction of Boleyn’s life apart from the many other versions told onscreen is the fact that she is the protagonist in her own story as it focuses on her last five months alive. “The camera never leaves her side. The viewer stays close to Anne, as if we were a member of her entourage, hopefully making it a personal, psychological experience,” Turner explains.
Of course, that means there’s no rest for Turner-Smith, who is in almost every scene of the series. While the series has garnered attention for casting a Black actress as the royal icon, the writer says “Jodie’s casting in the role gives Anne's story powerful, contemporary relevance.”
Not only that, but “Jodie brought so much to the role,” Turner praises. “She has a deep and natural regality to her which is perfect for Anne, and does a beautiful job of balancing her steely confidence with the vulnerabilities that lurk just beneath the surface.”
“I think she connected with the role as a new mother as well,” Turner adds, referring to the fact that the actress gave birth to her first child with husband Joshua Jackson in April 2020. “She knows how fierce that love is and we see that in Anne’s desire to leave a legacy for Elizabeth -- it’s really moving.”
In addition to connecting to the role as a mother, Turner says “she brought her own personal experiences with her and made it her own.”
And that personal touch is what helps make this award-worthy performance one to watch. “What Jodie does in the role is masterful -- Anne starts off the series proud and willful, but we see her go on a real journey. And at the end, Jodie shows us Anne’s deep humility. She is changed by the process -- and I think becomes more regal than ever,” Turner concludes.
Anne Boleyn premieres Thursday, Dec. 9 on AMC+.