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Jonathan Rhys Meyers Talks Tudors, Sex and Jealousy

The Tudors star is back on the throne and in the bedroom as Henry VIII on the hit show — proving the legendary king was a sexy guy.

Parade, April 1, 2009

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is back on the throne (and in the bedroom) as Henry VIII in Showtime’s hit The Tudors. And he’s getting a bevy of new beauties to prove that the legendary king was a sexy guy.

And in person, the darkly attractive Irishman fits the bill.

Q: You’ve taken some flack for not matching up to Henry’s traditional physical image as an overweight redhead.

A: I’ve played him my way. I could have dyed my hair red and gained extra weight or put on a fat suit. But then the role becomes something that’s already been done by other actors. I hope I’ve made King Henry my own. I had to make his ambition bigger than anybody else’s.

Q: Did you connect with that?

A: I can be intolerably jealous and I think that’s what’s driven me. My ambition knows no end. I have to be really honest about it. If another actor gets a good role, I’m furious. In my mind, I’ve crucified more actors than I care to imagine for their success. Going after a part in Hollywood is like being a gladiator in ancient Rome. When it comes down to getting a role, you don’t have any friends, you’re incredibly competitive and any actor who tells you different is lying.

Q: This season you’re once again surrounded by beautiful co-stars.

A: Yes, it’s the toughest part of the job. Jane Seymour is played by the elegant and gorgeous Annabelle Wallis who replaces Anita Briem. And then Joss Stone who is wonderful as Anne of Cleves.

Q: Ironically, Joss had to put her sexiness on hold to play Anne, who Henry found rather ugly and unappealing.

A: Anne was not as unattractive as history has portrayed her. But she wasn’t exactly gorgeous either. She just wasn’t Henry’s cup of tea. There was no chemistry from the moment they met. Joss was great in the role but even without make-up she still looked beautiful. So it does seem a little strange that Henry rejects her sexually because he just isn’t into her. They’d head for the bedroom and she’d go to sleep and he’d reach for a milk maid.

Q: Fans of the series who look forward to scenes of passion won’t be disappointed. Is it getting any easier to make love on camera?

A: It was never tough from the beginning. I take care of myself so I don’t feel insecure about my body. When the camera rolls you can’t be pussyfooting around. But once they say, ‘Cut,’ then you cover up your co-star with a robe and try to be as gentlemanly as possible. I’m always very comfortable. There are worse things you could do with yourself on a rainy day in Dublin than hop into bed with a beautiful actress.

Q: Was there really that much heavy breathing going on in the royal bedroom?

A: People were much more sexually gregarious in the 15th century than they are today. Sex was what you did when the sun went down. But having said that, I’m sure that those moments of passion don’t hurt our ratings either.

Q: You not only do your own sex scenes in Tudors, you do a lot of your own stunts, don’t you?

A: I’ve done my own horse riding for the most part. They kept me out of the final moment of a jousting scene just in case I’d get badly beaten up. I love the physicality. It’s very much boys’ time, you know? I’m into physical sports anyway and I go to the gym a lot, so it was all good. I kind of enjoyed that element of Henry. It would be dull if he was just sitting around on thrones, eating and drinking, and, of course, having sex.

Q: As Henry’s reign continues, he’s not exactly a happy man, is he?

A: I don’t think six marriages would make any man happy. Furthermore, if you observe anybody who comes into power — whether it be a king, a president or a prime minister — you see how young and fresh they look when they enter into office and how hardened and cynical they are when they leave. But Henry was also the rock star of his time because if you weren’t in Henry’s court, you were nobody.

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