I just had to find common ground to tell the story: Jodie-Turner Smith on playing Anne Boleyn

·3-min read

New Delhi, Jun 1 (PTI) Actor Jodie-Turner Smith, who is playing queen Anne Boleyn in a series, says she has realised that the race and class of a character may be a defining factor in terms of physical appearance, but the emotions underneath are universal.

The Britain-born Jamaican actor, best known for starring in 2019's hit romantic road crime drama movie 'Queen & Slim', will be seen headlining the three-part series, based on the final months of the second wife of King Henry VIII.

While her casting as the English queen is a step forward in the direction of diversity in the visual medium, the makers have also faced some criticism for roping in a woman of colour to play the character.

Smith, however, believes finding a common emotional ground is the key to a convincing performance that transcends the boundaries of colour and class.

'There's so much more commonality than people are willing to deal with because somebody is of a different race, and a different class. But I really just had to find the common ground, and tell that story,' the actor told PTI in a Zoom interview.

The Lynsey Miller-directed series, created by screenwriter Eve Hedderwick Turner, premieres on Tuesday on British television network Channel 5.

It centres on the final five months of Anne Boleyn's life, who was beheaded in 1536 on the orders of Henry VIII.

Smith said as a woman, challenging the powerful patriarchy and attempting to take on the establishment to build a secure future for her daughter, Anne Boleyn seemed like a rather relatable personality.

The actor, who welcomed her baby daughter with husband -- actor Joshua Jackson -- last year, said as a new mother it was easy for her to understand the love, concern, fear and protectiveness of Anne Boleyn towards Elizabeth, the future Queen of England.

''Anne Boleyn' definitely represents this unique time for me. When I filmed the series, it was the first time I stepped out and my daughter was just five-months-old. The intensity of my own desires as a mother, and the parallels between my own desires as a mother and what I was then finding to be. There was a lot of commanlity there for me to explore,' she said.

Smith believes the 'specific and interesting' transformation she went through in the past one year, as she experienced motherhood, allowed her to reflect upon her life as well as career choices.

As a female actor of colour, she said she wants to be careful of what she decides to be on the screen.

'I was going through a very specific and interesting transformation over the past year. I have gotten goals and I want to see them come to fruition, just in terms of the women that I choose to play and who I choose to be. It's been a really reflective year for me and while doing this, I've been completely immersed in nurturing this little life...' Smith's last big release 'Without Remorse', opposite Hollywood star Micahel B Jordon, gave her that opportunity to stand out in the story and join, what she calls, a 'new wave' of characterisation.

The film, based on author Tom Clancy's character of John Clark aka John Kelly, featured her as lieutenant commander Karen Greer, who leads a Navy SEAL team on an extraction mission in Aleppo, Syria.

'It's really wonderful to see women have stories that are three dimensional and not dependent on what's happening with male character,' she said.

'I think there's so much opportunity right now to just be a part of a new wave of characterisation, and I'm just really excited that I'm in those conversations,' the actor added.

'Without Remorse', directed by Stefano Sollima, is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. PTI SHD BK BK