In The Tudors' third season (Showtime, Sundays at 9 pm/ET), Jane Seymour (Annabelle Wallis) has taken the throne as the new queen of England. With her ascent, King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) finds happiness at home, even as rebellion across the country threatens his sovereignty. But this week, Henry's world — and the history of England — changes forever when tragedy befalls him, his queen and the royal court that adores her.
TVGuide.com caught up with Wallis ahead of the heart-breaking episode to get to know more about Seymour, see why she's left out of Henry's more salacious scenes and why her on-screen dances with Meyers are few and far between.
TVGuide.com: As an English native, what was your opinion of Jane Seymour before you began playing her?
Annabelle Wallis: I was always really interested in that period of time ... so I knew of Jane Seymour, and luckily for me, she's the most beloved queen. She was a very amiable, good queen, a peacemaker... . And of course, she's far less obvious than someone like Anne Boleyn. I think there's an intelligence behind her lack of obviousness. In a way, she has more power that way, and if she had survived [giving] birth, she would have gone to become quite an incredible queen. She really had Henry's trust. And that's interesting in a time where his word is law.
TVGuide.com: You play Seymour with a calm, even-keeled attitude, but she had knowledge of some of the dark maneuverings going on in Henry's court. How did you walk that line? Did you ever consider showing her crack a little bit?
Wallis: To me, it came across as someone who was very composed, very secure... . She was Henry's rock, and she brought a lot of confidence back into the court. I wanted to make it clear that she's not a stupid woman, that she's not weak. She tests her boundaries, she pushes the envelope as much as she can, but you have to put her back in her place. In a way, it's almost protective of Henry, in that he stops her in a situation that may be not so beneficial for her, and oversteps her line.
TVGuide.com: The Tudors is a sexy show, yet Jane occupies an almost virginal sphere. Why don't see her in many of those hot-and-heavy scenes?
Wallis: After all the trauma and madness of Anne Boleyn, [Seymour] comes in and makes good — she's so beloved and protected, it's not conducive for her to be rolling around, vamping it up... . Sometimes with men, you're either a sexual object or you're the Mother Superior type, where you're protected.
TVGuide.com: And yet, for all this adoration, Henry takes a lover — and it rolls off her back!
Wallis: You have to remember that, at that time, men had mistresses, it was a done thing. It was something you expected when you went into a marriage, it's not like our day and age. So you have to rethink the whole societal code.
TVGuide.com: What was the dynamic between you and Jonathan Rhys Meyers when the cameras weren't rolling?
Wallis: We really got on. The whole cast was a good group of people. And Jonathan is wonderful, he has incredible energy and life — on camera and off. It's quite funny, because on the weekends [the cast is out together] and then on Monday ... you're sitting outside having a tea break, and you're in these silly costumes.
TVGuide.com: Those large court scenes with dances are incredibly elaborate, costumes included. How much research did you have to do for those?
Wallis: We had a choreographer, but if you notice, any scene with Jonathan and I is cut down. We were the worst.
TVguide.com: You mean, when the two of you danced together?
Wallis: [T]wo people dancing is so different than like when you dance [now]. It's very uptight. Also, when you've been working with people for so long, and you become good friends and then you try to dance. We were hysterically laughing all the time. We couldn't take it seriously, so they decided to cut us out.
TVGuide.com: Where does your tragic ending leave things? It's the first time Henry's really seen in an empathetic light.
Wallis: Historically, it all goes down hill after Jane. You do have a moment where he's a real human being — and then he turns back into the tyrant.
TVGuide.com: Of course, for Tudors fans, there will be a changing of the guard with Henry's wives, when Cromwell brings in Anne of Cleves (played by Joss Stone). Did you have any interaction with Joss — like swapping wifely advice?
Wallis: No, I didn't. I was leaving as she was arriving and every time I went back to do reshoots, she had [gone off]. I had heard so much about her, and she'd heard about me... . I'm sure I'll meet her in London when it screens there.