JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS TO STAR AS YOUNG HENRY VIII IN NEW SHOWTIME DRAMA SERIES, THE TUDORS
'Desperate Housewives' Director Charles McDougall to Direct First Two Episodes
LOS ANGELES (January 19, 2006) � Hot on the heels of his Golden Globe�- winning, tour-de-force performance in the mini-series ELVIS, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers has signed on to play a different King -- Henry VIII -- in SHOWTIME's new drama series THE TUDORS, it was announced today by Robert Greenblatt, President of Entertainment for SHOWTIME. Ten episodes have been ordered and Emmy�-winning television director Charles McDougall (DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES) will helm at least the first two episodes of the series, which will most likely air on the network in early 2007 after filming is completed in Ireland.
Currently wrapping MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 with Tom Cruise, Rhys-Meyers earned critical acclaim -- and an Emmy� nomination -- last fall for channeling 'The King' in CBS' four-hour mini-series ELVIS. He also just starred opposite Scarlett Johansson in Woody Allen's new romantic thriller MATCH POINT. The Irish actor gained prominence with American film audiences with his performance as coach of the girl's soccer team in the 2002 breakout hit BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, and as a David Bowie-inspired glam rock star in 1998's VELVET GOLDMINE. He's appeared in a wide range of feature films (from VANITY FAIR to ALEXANDER), as well as the highly praised remake of SHOWTIME's THE LION IN WINTER, with Glenn Close and Patrick Stewart, playing Phillip, the King of France.
"Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is one of the hottest young movie stars working today and his incredible range as an actor playing everything from historical figures to Elvis Presley makes him an immensely thrilling choice to play this new younger incarnation of the most infamous King ever to rule Great Britain," said Greenblatt. "As a producer of ELVIS, I had the chance to get to know Jonathan and see him craft a performance of a character that many doubted could be honestly or sensitively portrayed. He is one of the most talented rising film stars working today and his desire to do this series in the midst of his movie career catching fire is indicative of that great U.K. tradition where actors sign on to projects that they fall in love with. In addition, English filmmaker Charles McDougall's incredible work on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES and the original, British QUEER AS FOLK are evidence that this will be a newly imagined Henry the VIII with a seductive, modern sensibility."
Bypassing the typical costume drama for a more scandalous take on the times, THE TUDORS will focus on the rarely dramatized, tumultuous early years of King Henry VIII's nearly 40-year, omnipotent reign (1509-1547) of England. In addition to dalliances with famous female consorts Catherine of Aragon and the infamous Anne Boleyn, the series delves into Henry's most notable political relationships, including those with philosopher Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, head of the Catholic Church of England during its break with Rome.
Michael Hirst (ELIZABETH), series creator, writer, and executive producer, has written the first five hours of THE TUDORS, and most likely will pen much of the rest. Ben Silverman of Reveille and Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title will also executive produce. The series will be produced by TM Productions and co-financed by SHOWTIME and Peace Arch Entertainment Group, Inc., which will distribute the series outside of the United States.