Belfast Telegraph

Lewis explains slim Henry VIII role

Damian Lewis has revealed the reason behind his lack of weight gain for playing Henry VIII in Wolf Hall.

The Homeland actor took on the role of the king, who many view as having been grossly overweight, for the TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel's book, but has stayed his usual slim size.

He told the Radio Times: "Actually the truth is, though it might be an odd thing to mention, that Henry had a 32-inch waist - and he remained that way for quite a long time.

"He was the pre-eminent sportsman in his court. He was much taller than anyone else. His beautiful, pale complexion was often remarked upon by commentators.

"And so I think what I've found is that the grandiose, more paranoid, self-indulgent, self-pitying, cruel Henry emerged in the period after this series."

He continued: "What we're trying to concentrate on is just to give a more varied portrait of Henry, and that's really how this is written."

Damian, a former Eton pupil, also said of his casting: "I think there's no question it helps having had the kind of schooling that I've had to play a king. Just the sort of court structure, hierarchies, the way they're set up. It's something I feel I implicitly understand.

"The more I read about Henry, the more I was happy - and alarmed - to find that I did share character traits with him. I suppose everyone else will be the judge of it, but certainly sitting in the clothes, it feels like a canny piece of casting, because I do find similarities between myself and him."

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