Meet the Leading Lady of Wolf Hall :)

Oh, no, I am not talking about Claire Foy. She is absolutely brilliant as Anne Boleyn, however it turns out the “leading lady of Wolf Hall” is… Damian Lewis!

How come? Read and find out 🙂

source: BBC
source: BBC

Gaby Wood describes the Wolf Hall set in her recent Telegraph article:

“The crowd fills the cathedral with an incredible palette of rich colours: dresses made of deep-green or burnt-orange silk, wine-red shawl-shaped lapels, brown fur trim, gold embroidery. There are boys in black velvet tunics with puffed sleeves, women in carmine cloaks with ermine collars. Everything that catches your eye is a Holbein painting come to life.”


If you have read Wolf Hall, you already know that he is actually a character in the book and a good friend of Thomas Cromwell.

Hans Holbein the younger, according to Wikipedia “ travelled to England in 1526 in search of work, with a recommendation from Erasmus. He was welcomed into the humanist circle of Thomas More, where he quickly built a high reputation. After returning to Basel for four years, he resumed his career in England in 1532. This time he worked under the patronage of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell. By 1535, he was King’s Painter to King Henry VIII. In this role, he produced not only portraits and festive decorations but designs for jewellery, plate, and other precious objects. His portraits of the royal family and nobles are a record of the court in the years when Henry was asserting his supremacy over the English Church.”

That is why the art of Holbein is so precious for the BBC production of Wolf Hall.

Apparently, Joanne Eatwell, the costume designer for the BBC production, digged into the paintings of Holbein for research. From Lucy Worsley’s interview with Eatwell:

‘He’s a genius – all the information is in his paintings,’ she says.

‘He not only painted members of the court, he also painted merchants and even some of Henry’s courtiers and staff, so we have a complete cross-section which is incredibly important for a piece like this.’

So, it seems that the costumes, except for the small size of codpieces that we talked about earlier here, are as authentic as possible.

The court of Henry VIII will obviously have a sumptuous wardrobe, but it turns out the shining star is the King himself! No wonder director Peter Kosminsky explained at Wolf Hall preview screening Q&A that HenryVIII was the “original Renaissance man” that in addition to his deep interest in architecture, music and languages, he also designed clothes!

Lucy Worsely observes that the costume designer Joanne Eatwell refers to Henry as “our leading lady” thanks to the wealth and elegance of his clothes.

“Henry’s clothes are sumptuous, with fur and velvet – and a little padded stomach for the later part of the series.


Lewis, for one, appears to have enjoyed his lengthy costume fittings.

‘You’ve got to start with the shoes,’ he tells me, quoting Laurence Olivier. ‘If you don’t get the shoes right, you’ll never get your character.’

Today, for Anne’s spectacular coronation scene, he is wearing a black gown embroidered with gold, a black velvet cap, and thigh-high, square-toed black boots, custom-made on the Isle of Wright using traditional techniques. “

Damian Lewis concurs in an interview with BuzzFeed: “So, [they] put me in these extraordinary clothes — he’s very much the peacock, always the most colorful man there. He’s always got a bit more fur than anyone else.”

I can imagine Damian is happier with his wardrobe in Wolf Hall than the conservative and limited Brody-wear on Homeland 🙂

And, this should be THE black gown for the coronation scene.


Worsely says all costumes are as authentic as possible and “the only touch of modernity is the loose welt at the top of his boot, useful for storing his mobile phone when he’s not filming.”

Haha I bet this modern touch did wonders when the King felt like taking a selfie 🙂


Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

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