Slideshow: Behind the Scenes & Stories from the Set
Moat-swimming with Damian Lewis? Go behind the scenes with actress Charity Wakefield (Mary Boleyn) to get the details on that particular dip, other on-location antics and impressions, and insider insights into Wolf Hall's magnificent locations and costumes. Don't miss Wolf Hall's riveting season finale on Sunday, May 10 at 10pm on MASTERPIECE on PBS! #WolfHallPBS
Research Trip: Hampton Court
We did film at lots of brilliant locations, but not actually at Hampton Court. So I took an afternoon and went by myself to Hampton Court to have a look around, because I think that's the best way to really absorb everything. And what's wonderful is that you can go, not only to the stately rooms, but to the back stairs and down into the kitchens, and you can see the routes that people would have been taking when they were doing anything untoward and mischievous.
You can step out and be where the canal boats would have been tethered, by the river, and smell the smell of the river, and it was an amazing experience. I found myself sitting by the river, and I thought, I bet Mary would have come out here to get some... respite. Sat by the ducks and fed them some bread from the kitchen. Just to get a breath of fresh air and be outside.
Hampton Court: Henry's Rooms
I went up to Henry's rooms, which are still surviving. And one of my questions was that, to my understanding, Mary was mistress to the king, and I wondered how that was: How does it feel, how are you with your friends and contemporaries and colleagues at court? Is that something that people know about? Is it something that you keep hidden? But when I was there, I thought, No, absolutely everybody would have known, because the way that it's constructed, and the amount of people that would have been working in the palace, and it's such a small place that everybody would have known, it would have been completely common knowledge. In the evening you would be summoned to Henry's bedroom, and everybody would know.
A Favorite Location: Winchester Cathedral
I loved all of them; it would be really hard to choose. The cathedrals were amazing. I'll always remember scene that we did in Winchester Cathedral for Anne Boleyn's coronation, because it was so damn difficult to walk down that incredible length of cathedral, all of us wearing really heavy velvet and holding her train! And knowing that this is such a significant moment, you imagine yourself in the position that everything has to be perfect. They piped in the music that would be in the show so we could walk in time with the music, which meant it felt very, very real.
As someone that watched the wedding of Kate and William—we watched the wedding on telly, and then got on the train to central London near Buckingham Palace, and lined the streets, and I saw William and Kate go by in their car—I know the feeling of being someone near an occasion like that. So filming it was imaginatively rich.
A Favorite Location: Dover
We also filmed a lot down in Dover—some of the scenes that were set in France were actually in Dover Castle. We filmed Anne Boleyn's execution down there. Although I wasn't in that scene, I was around when they were filming it, and it was extremely windy and cold and the conditions were horrendous and I think everyone was a little bit shaken by doing that work, because when you engage in the material like that, you become really close to the characters, and Claire [Foy as Anne Boleyn]'s such an amazing performer, I felt really moved, seeing her go through that. I do think it makes a huge impression on you when you've been filming in original locations.
Costumes, Hair & Makeup
The costumes on this were so beautifully made, but they were so hot to wear, because we were filming in the summer, and I had tons and tons of velvet, and you've got so many underskirts, and you're corseted. You have a very long hair and makeup call because, under that veil, is this most elaborate and beautiful amount of, sort of braiding. We have great long wefts that we put in to make our hair really, really long, and then that's all beautifully braided and this gorgeous bun is created.
And all you really see at the front is this little center parting! It feels like such a shame, but I think that you feel that all the work is there, even if you can't really see it. If you didn't feel like you were a member of court at the beginning of the day, after you've been through two and a half hours of getting your makeup and clothes
on, you definitely do; it puts you there! Because if you're wearing that stuff, you just can't actually lie down or slouch. You have to behave as they would have behaved.
You're kind of made to by the costume. It holds you up and gives you your status.
Pucket & Narnia
Deep in the countryside, in the southwest, and there was a beautiful moat around the outside, and it was a really gorgeous day anyway, and I can remember I took a few pictures of the extras just underneath this willow tree. It was funny; it felt so old-fashioned, because Mark [Rylance, Thomas Cromwell] had bought this old game, Pucket. It's this game where you have to sort of ping these pieces through a hole, back and forth at one another, and it was funny to see everybody in their costumes playing this game. And he had just gotten back from getting an Olivier [Award] in New York, and it was just this gorgeous kind of day. And, I think this is so weird, but a massive bumblebee landed on my shoulder, and then I saw a mole—you never see a mole out of the ground—so this mole's going through the grass. And I was like, wow, this is amazing, like Narnia happening right here!
Moat-Swimming On Location
And then Damian Lewis—basically, because he's Damian Lewis—had decided that he wanted to swim in the beautiful moat, so he did it. He went and swam round the moat, and then, because we had finished earlier in the day, myself and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd [Francis Weston] decided that we were going to do that, too. Like anything he can do, we can do! We discovered that the moats are really, really long. You think that they're small, they're not, they are really long, and I'm not really the greatest swimmer, so we had fits of giggles, because also it had a lot of pond weed in it as well. And I should say we did have permission by the owner of the property to do it, we didn't just sort of jump in. But I kind of got myself rather entangled in the lily pads halfway through. And by the time I got about three-quarters of the way through, I said, "Just go ahead! Just leave me!" And he went to the end and I got a bit of a round of applause, because it took me so long to get around it. I had a bit of a load of pond weed stuck around my right ankle. But, it was really nice, it was really fun to do.