Jodie Turner-Smith pictured in Tudor costume to play Anne Boleyn in new drama

Jodie Turner-Smith has transformed into Anne Boleyn for a convention-challenging new spin on her story.

The actress will play the second wife of King Henry VIII in a new drama from Channel 5, which will tell the story of Boleyn’s final months before her beheading.

Jodie, 34, was pictured on location in Yorkshire for the first time and while she wore a black duffel coat over her costume – well, it is December – her period headpiece was visible as she prepared for a scene as the Tudor queen.

Also seen on the set was White House Farm star Amanda Burton, while I May Destroy You star Paapa Essiedu, White Lines’ Barry Ward and Jamael Westman, who starred in the West End’s Hamilton musical, are also in the cast.

Jodie’s casting as Anne Boleyn was confirmed in October, with the Queen & Slim star saying: ‘Delving deeper into Anne Boleyn’s immense strengths while examining her fatal weaknesses and vulnerabilities, Eve’s scripts immediately captured my imagination. 

‘In the hands of Lynsey Miller, the legend of this formidable queen and fierce mother will be seen as a deeply human story that is still so relevant for today.

‘I look forward to bringing my heart and spirit into this daring retelling of the fall of this iconic woman.’ 

In a statement, Channel 5 said: ‘The drama will explore the final months of Anne Boleyn’s life from the eponymous queen’s perspective.

‘The psychological drama follows her as she struggles to survive, to secure a future for her daughter, and to challenge the powerful patriarchy closing in around her.’  

Producers Fable Pictures said the drama would challenge ‘all the conventions of who we think Anne Boleyn was and shines a feminist light on her story’, adding: ‘We’re absolutely thrilled to have the magnetic Jodie Turner-Smith on board to encapsulate Anne’s determination to be an equal among men and to pave a path for her daughter. 

‘We feel that history has side-lined the voice of this ambitious Queen in favour of the men who brought her down, and that Lynsey Miller’s beautiful, intimate vision will put Anne’s gaze at the heart of the piece.’

Ben Frow, director of programs at ViacomCBS, said: ‘This project re-frames her story as a propulsive psychological thriller, told from a new perspective, with top talent like Jodie Turner-Smith attached. It was simply too irresistible to say no to and I’m very excited to see the finished product.’

While the story will be told from a ‘new perspective’, the show is pushing boundaries by casting Jodie, who is Black, as Boleyn, who was white. 

However, Boleyn has previously been played by a non-white actress on the screen, with Merle Oberon playing her in Alexander Korda’s 1933 film The Private Life of Henry VIII. 

Oberon hid her biracial identity, claiming she was from Australia, and ‘passed’ as white, but she had South Asian and Māori heritage from her grandmother (who she believed to be her mother) and the actress was born in Mumbai (then Bombay). 

Jodie made her screen debut in True Blood in 2013 and starred in the George RR Martin series Nightflyers.

She gained acclaim starring opposite Daniel Kaluuya in 2019’s Queen & Slim, and stars in the upcoming movies Without Remorse and After Yang.

The as yet untitled Boleyn drama comes just months after Jodie welcomed her first child, a daughter named Janie, with husband Joshua Jackson of Dawson’s Creek fame. 

The drama will chronicle the last months of Boleyn’s life, before her beheading at the order of her husband.

Boleyn failed to produce a male heir and miscarried a male child, and in order to marry again, Henry had her investigated for treason and sent to the Tower of London. 

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