Monday 23 August 2010

Jane Seymour in the Movies

"She has the face of a simpering sheep. And the manners. But not the morals. I don't want her near me." - Anne Boleyn in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969.)

Seen here in another role, Norwegian actress, Aud Egede Nissen, played Jane in the German silent movie Anna Boleyn (1920), one of the early epics of European cinema. She was the first of two Scandinavian actresses to play Queen Jane.

"My first wife was clever; my second was ambitious. Thomas, if you want to be happy - marry a girl like my sweet Jane. Marry a stupid woman!" Charles Laughton as Henry VIII and Wendy Barrie as Jane Seymour in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), which was the first non-American motion picture to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Laughton won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as the King.

American starlet, Joan Valerie, made a brief appearance as Jane in The Prince and the Pauper (1937), an adaptation of the novel by Mark Twain, based on a fictitious scenario set in the childhood of Jane's son, Edward VI.

French actress, Jacqueline Pacaud (centre), appeared as Jane Seymour in the French-language historical epic, Les perles de la couronne (1937.)

Shown in another of her roles, Jennifer Browne played Jane in the BBC television drama, The White Falcon, based on the life of Jane's predecessor, Anne Boleyn.

"She's on her way to Northumberland. As far away as I could send her - since we don't own Scotland." Leslie Paterson as Jane in the Oscar-winning biopic Anne of the Thousand Days.

"I beg you, sir, by the deep love I bear you, I beg you to restore the abbeys. This can only be God's judgment for putting them down!" Anne Stallybrass gave a sympathetic portrayal of Jane in two episodes of the BBC series The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970.)

Jane Asher offered a similarly sympathetic interpretation in the movie Henry VIII and his Six Wives (1972.) Although the movie was noticeably less generous to Jane's predecessor and successor, Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves, it was substantially more sympathetic to Catherine Howard.

Charlotte Roach played Jane in Episode 3 of Dr. David Starkey's documentary series, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2001), which later inspired his best-selling book, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII.

The DVD cover for the BBC adaptation of Philippa Gregory's controversial novel, The Other Boleyn Girl (2003), showing Natascha McElhone (left) as Lady Mary Boleyn and Jodhi May (right) as Anne Boleyn. Jane Seymour was briefly played by Naomi Benson.

Emilia Fox as Jane Seymour in the 2-part television movie, Henry VIII (2003), broadcast on a rival channel in the same year as The Other Boleyn Girl. Ironically, Emilia later married Jared Harris, who had played Henry VIII in The Other Boleyn Girl. Harris is perhaps best-known to American audiences for his role as Lane Pryce in the AMC series Mad Men. Emilia was the only one of Henry's on-screen wives to appear in both episodes of Henry VIII, appearing very early on in Episode 1 as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon (played by Assumpta Serna) and then as a threat to Queen Anne Boleyn (Helena Bonham-Carter.) The drama was one of the few to suggest that the marriage between Henry and Jane was not as happy as romantic legend suggested, with Jane being a victim of what would now be termed domestic violence.

Corinne Galloway, shown on the far right, had a non-speaking appearance as Jane Seymour in the Hollywood adaptatin of The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) and she is shown here with David Morrissey as the Duke of Norfolk and Eric Bana as King Henry VIII.

"That kiss is her destiny." Icelandic actress, Anita Briem, shown here with Jonathan Rhys Meyer as King Henry VIII, was cast as Jane Seymour in the award-winning Showtime series, The Tudors. Anita played Jane in the final five episodes of the show's second series, which chronicled her career as the King's mistress. At the start of the third series, however, Briem was re-cast and Jane was subsequently played by Annabelle Wallis (below). The Tudors' portrayal of Jane, especially in Series Two, was markedly less sympathetic than those shown offered by The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970), Henry VIII and his Six Wives (1972) or Henry VIII (2003.) However, the Series Three dramatisation of Jane's queenship was more generous in its assessment of her and Annabelle Wallis spoke in interviews of admiring the character, likening her to "a quiet storm." After her character's on-screen death in childbed in Series 3, Episode 5 - "The Death of a Queen" - Annabelle reprised her role in the show's 2010 finale as the surprisingly gutsy ghost of Jane Seymour, which can be watched here.


  1. What fun this series is! Very entertaining.

    Will you do a "Marie-Antoinette in the Movies" at some point?

  2. I hadn't even thought of it, but how delightful!

  3. I loved Norma Shearer as Marie Antoinette...Tyrone Power as a Swede was a bit of a stretch, though.


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