Watch The Trailer for Jodie Turner-Smith's Much-Anticipated Anne Boleyn

Photo credit: Parisa Taghizadeh
Photo credit: Parisa Taghizadeh

Jodie Turner-Smith has grown—deservedly—comfortable in a crown. The actress, whose turn as Queen in Melina Matsoukas’s Queen and Slim earned her widespread critical acclaim, is taking it back a few centuries to play Tudor Queen Anne Boleyn in the three-part psychological drama Anne Boleyn for English broadcaster Channel 5.

Boleyn is one of the most popular and debated figures in all of British history: the Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 and the second wife of King Henry VIII. Her death by beheading serves as only one of several colorful moments in her complicated marriage—she was also accused of treason and witchcraft.

“We can only infer who she was, because she left no paper trail that would hint at her imagination. She’s endlessly fascinating for that reason,” Turner-Smith told ELLE in her January digital cover story. Turner-Smith said she hopes to “tell the story of the woman who sits at the center of the myth, and make that story an accessible one—one that’s not entirely about class, but about humanity. Because whether a woman is a queen or a housekeeper, she is not exempt from any of the challenges and trials that women face in navigating their bodies, love, or the patriarchy.” She added, “There’s an opportunity to tell a really human story and for it to feel that much more accessible because a Black woman is playing her.”

Photo credit: Parisa Taghizadeh/Fable/ViacomCBS
Photo credit: Parisa Taghizadeh/Fable/ViacomCBS

Turner-Smith will be the first Black woman to take on the role; previous actresses who've played Anne Boleyn include Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, Natalie Dormer, Natalie Portman, and Claire Foy. Here’s what we know so far about Turner-Smith’s newest chapter.

The show depicts the end of Boleyn’s life.

Written by Eve Hedderwick Turner, the Channel 5 series recently aired in the U.K. and focuses primarily on Boleyn's final months, during which she fights for the survival of her young daughter—the future Queen Elizabeth I—as well as her own innocence. After “failing” to provide her husband with a male heir, she must face not only the king's wrath (and infidelity), but also stake out a path for her family, even if she must die for it.

On April 7, 2021, Channel 5 released a short teaser that didn't reveal much in the way of plot, but did show Turner-Smith doing a magnificent power walk.

Finally, the creators released a full trailer on May 14, 2021. The cool, moody lighting paired with Turner-Smith's stiff upper lip add credence to the show's billing as a thriller, as does the trailer's voiceover, which states, “Fear can be fuel.”

Mark Stanley plays Henry VIII.

Photo credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / Fable / The Falen Falcon Ltd / ViacomCBS
Photo credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / Fable / The Falen Falcon Ltd / ViacomCBS

Stanley, who has appeared in numerous series including Sanditon and Game of Thrones, plays the king known best for his six marriages. On April 6, production released the first photo of Stanley as king with Boleyn by his side. The image suggested the series would depict happier times for the tragic couple before, inevitably, those moments turned to anger and cruelty.

Other cast members include Paapa Essiedu, who earned magnanimous praise for his role in I May Destroy You, as Boleyn's brother, as well as Amanda Burton, Thalissa Teixeira, Barry Ward, and Jamael Westman, according to Deadline.

Anne Boleyn should arrive in the U.S. soon.

After completing filming in Yorkshire in December 2020, the Tudor tale recently aired in the U.K. and is set to be distributed internationally, though a release date is yet to be announced. Despite the show receiving mixed reviews from critics and viewers—and extensive backlash from Turner-Smith's casting—the actress's performance has been roundly praised.

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