Kings can command the attention and adoration of many women, and REIGN’s King Henry (Alan VanSprang) is no exception. Well-known as a king who ruled with his beautiful mistress and his powerful wife by his side, King Henry still has time for the occasional dalliance. REIGN offers both a look at the intertwined love lives of King Henry and his two sons, Prince Francis (Toby Regbo) and Sebastian (Torrance Coombs) and how the arrival of Mary (Adalaide Kane), Queen of Scots brings a bit more of heart-ache and political intrigue into all their lives. In a press interview from the set, star Alan VanSprang talked about the many ladies of King Henry and the complications Mary brings to the French Court.
It seems King Henry is a bit of a randy king. Is he going to put the moves on every young lady in the French court?
ALAN: I didn’t realize coming into this, it happened so fast. I kind of knew the show and I knew it was CW, so I thought it was going to be focused on the girls and Henry’s sons. I thought I would sort of be in the background as king and make some financial and political decisions and that’s it. Then this thing happened with one of Mary’s ladies in waiting and things just kind of got more and more and more. So Henry does tend to fornicate quite a bit. Then on top of that he has a mistress, Diane (Anna Walton), who he sleeps with all the time and who is basically his wife, then he has his wife Catherine (Megan Follows), who kind of rules with an iron-fist. She absolutely is the power of the house. She absolutely does wear the pants. So I just thought, “This job is amazing cause it’s so easy.” Catherine does the ruling and Henry’s got Diane and all these other girls that he gets to hang around with. It was just completely unexpected. I worked on THE TUDORS as well, so I got to watch Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Henry. But my character also got to do a lot of the messing around in the castle because he was one of his best friends. (Laughs) Anyway, being king has its privileges.
What does Henry think about Mary, his son’s betrothed?
ALAN: Mary, he adores. He really does. Their personal lives in the first couple episodes doesn’t really intersect. She’s the story arc of this show, so we follow her both politically and personally. But there’s a lot to Henry’s personal relationships too, which I wasn’t aware was going to happen. All of the political side has to do with Mary and Henry, the decisions being made between Scotland and France; and ultimately, Henry wants the relationship to work because it’s a stepping stone to Scotland which potentially gets him to Britain. So that’s what Henry wants. And while Henry is light and charismatic and likes to screw around, he likes to drink and he likes music — and he tries to keep Catherine light too. He thinks it’s in the best interest of relations with other countries that if she’s lighter it will make the relationships easier. And it works. The chemistry that Megan [Follows] and I have keeps the show sort of more easy going. But at the same time, Henry has to rule with an iron-fist because at the end of the day and no matter what Catherine says, or Diane says — because Diane is Henry’s soulmate. When Henry was younger, historically speaking, Diane was 35 and Henry was 14 and Catherine was 14 when she and Henry got together — so Diane was actually the one making a lot of the decisions for Henry because she was kind of like his mother-figure. Henry wasn’t supposed to be king originally because he had an older brother, but he passed away and Henry became king. So Henry’s relationship throughout the kingdom and there’s a lot of stuff coming up that is just really light. It’s actually kind of funny. It almost seems domesticated, which you don’t see a lot in historical dramas.
Is Henry worried about his son at all? Because Francis could mess things up for these alliances.
ALAN: Absolutely. In the show we start playing it where Sebastian (Torrance Coombs), Diane’s son who is never going to be king because he is the bastard son, but he’s Henry’s favorite. He’s the favorite because he’s bigger and he’s kind of stronger, and he likes sports and likes to joust. Henry likes to see that in himself, so he thinks, “aw, he’s a chip off the old block, too bad the bloodlines don’t work out and you’re a bastard and you’re never going to be king. So suck it up and let’s go ride horses.” But Francis, Henry is absolutely worried about him because he seems to be going in a direction or Henry sees an influence of Francis’ mother on him which Henry does not think is right for the country. Because that’s what Henry wants, he wants Scotland and he wants England. Yet Catherine sees something else. She wants bigger and better things for Francis. So Henry sees them kind of going down a road. And Catherine’s relationship with Nostradamus, which Henry is never privy to, he does call them on it. It’s like, “What are you talking about already? You’re putting all these potions and things into my wife’s head and eventually it could corrupt the entire kingdom.” Obviously, Henry doesn’t want that but he trusts Catherine enough that he’s hands off.
What is it like working with Megan?
ALAN: She’s great. She’s absolutely fantastic. Really absolutely fantastic.
It seems like Henry and Catherine have an interesting dynamic. It’s physically felt the minute they are together on screen. It’s very powerful.
ALAN: I think that’s Megan in spades. I couldn’t believe how good she was when we first did a scene together because we had never met before. She hit it right out of the park. Because she’s playing it so strong and with such power and such conviction, it allows me to come in there a bit lighter and try to make her shine a bit as a human being and make it more humanistic and fallible, opposed to just, “she’s strong and I’m strong.” So it’s, “We will be a united front when necessary, but at the same time, you can make your decisions, but ultimately I have the final word.”
Once Henry realizes that Mary has come between his sons, and since he favors Sebastian, what direction does he push?
ALAN: If Henry found out about any relationship between Mary and Bash, he would tell Bash, “You are gone. Go follow your mother away.” Because Henry knows what is right politically. Even though he would take Bash aside and say, “Listen, son. I get it. She’s really hot. She’s really cute. She’s a queen. And Francis, he’s not really cutting the mustard with her. I get it. Just be really discreet about it and do not screw this up because this is what I want. I want Mary and Francis together.” So politically Henry would lightly shove Bash off to the side, but at the same time, he’d probably give him a nudge on the shoulder and say, “I get it. I get it. But, no. I’m absolutely on Francis’ side for this.”
To see if King Henry will be ultimately forced to choose between the two sons he adores and how much he will tolerate of Mary’s influence on his court, be sure to tune in for the premiere of REIGN on Thursday, October 17th at 9:00 p.m. on the CW.
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