Last night, The White Queen came to an end with a bloody and epic battle between Richard III (Aneurin Barnard) and Henry Tudor (Michael Marcus). Now that the dust has settled, star Aneurin Barnard is going to take us through some of the battles he fought behind the scened in over those fight scenes, how he feels about historic inaccuracies, and whether or not he thinks Richard really loved Anne.
Last night’s finale was aptly titled “The Final Battle,” and the Battle of Bosworth Field turned out to be Barnard’s favorite fight scene to shoot because “historically it’s the biggest one and it’s Richard’s moment.”
Even though American viewers got to see more action on film than British audiences (because there is a Starz edit of the series and a BBC one), Barnard explained that the cast shot much more. “There were some really big action sequences that were taken out [of the BBC version],” Barnard lamented. “I find it very disappointing because at that point I think the audience deserves a good big, blowout battle.”
Richard III was renowned for being the consummate medieval soldier. He spent his childhood learning how to fight and historically rode into battle with a battle axe. However, Barnard never got to wield an axe on the show because of pesky safety concerns.
“I like to portray things as close to the bone as possible,” Barnard explained. “So I’m there [on set] holding an axe, getting on a horse, and at the last minute, they take that axe off me. So, then I grab a mace and they take that off me as well. There was one moment where they said, ’Well, we don’t want you riding with a sword,’ and I think at that point I just rode off.”
If Barnard enjoyed shooting the fight scenes, he also enjoyed working with the actress who played his love interest, Faye Marsay. Fans of the series (or of medieval history) might know that there is some controversy about their relationship–and we’re not talking about the fact that they were first cousins.
There’s often been speculation that Richard wooed and married Anne to control her fortune, but Philippa Gregory paints their relationship as a true, but doomed, romance.
“Personally I think that they were in love,” said Barnard. “I don’t think Richard was stupid, either. I think he knew there was a lot of power to come from that marriage, but there was a lot of power for her to come from that marriage, also. So they were equally balanced there,” he said. “And I think they both did have fanciable qualities for one another.”
As for Richard’s affair with Elizabeth of York, Barnard explained that “He’s a very loyal man until he feels like he’s losing [Anne].”
As with almost all historic dramas, The White Queen garnered criticism for historical inaccuracies. Some of these critiques hit Barnard directly because he played Richard as an able bodied man. During shooting it was scientifically confirmed that even though Richard wasn’t a hunchback, he did have a slight curvature to his spine. It was something that Barnard had done extensive research into before and after the discovery and according to Barnard, Richard’s scolosis would only have been noticed by someone who saw him shirtless. Still, it was too late in production for Barnard to change anything, nor would it matter too much because as he points out, “It’s an interpretation of history; not a vivid re-enactment.”
Even though Barnard was passionate about giving Richard his proper due and not maligning him the way Shakespeare did during the Tudor era, he’s not opposed to playing the Bard’s take on the last Plantagenet king. “Shakespeare’s version is very, very different and I’d like to play it when I was older,” he said. “It’s a completely different take on him and there’s great language there.”
The White Queen is not returning for a second series in the UK, but there are rumors that Starz might do a sequel series about Elizabeth of York’s marriage to Henry Tudor. Barnard just signed on for the film, The Devil’s Harvest, which co-stars The White Queen’s Max Irons.
[Photo Credit: Starz]