May 13

The historical atrocity that is the Jonathan Rhys Meyers portrayal of King Henry VIII

May 12  
the time of his death in 1547, the 55-year-old British King Henry VIII stood
6’2”, boasted a 53-inch waistline and weighed more than 400 pounds. According
to various reports, he most likely suffered from Type II diabetes, syphilis,
gout or some variation thereof, and his painful, pustule-riddled leg forced
minions to not only create mechanical devices to hoist the immobile monarch
from his bed, but flee from its horrific odor. I bring you this tidbit of
unsolicited history because of my escalating disgust with the Jonathan Rhys
Meyers ‘interpretation’ of Henry Tudor in Showtime’s ‘The Tudors.’

held my tongue for the past four seasons because, until lately, Rhys Meyers had
been portraying the youthful ‘rock star’ Henry. This younger Henry was a
world-class brawler, hunter, composer (‘Green Sleeves’) tennis player and, most
obviously, womanizer.

though, time has passed. And the historical Henry is now long in the tooth.
From an historical standpoint, Henry VIII is now 49 and being cuckolded by his
fifth wife, 17-year-old Catherine Howard. Yet, in a sleight of hand that would
dazzle even Dorian Gray, Rhys Meyers has not aged one iota. Nor has he gained a
single ounce of fat. In fact, except for an occasional limp, Rhys Meyers looks
like the rock star Henry he portrayed in season one.  Even the damn limp
seems to be a minor annoyance at best, and has a nasty habit of disappearing
from one scene to the next (which reminds me of Marty Feldman’s classic
character ‘Igor’ in ‘Young Frankenstein’, whose hunchbacked lump would move
from one side to the other in successive scenes). As for height and weight, the
inaccuracies are off the blooming scales! According to Rhys Meyers’ web site,
he’s 5’10” and weighs 155 lbs. Knowing how badly actors fudge their vitals, I’m
guessing Rhys Meyers is closer to 5’7” and 140lbs. So, he’s seven inches
shorter and 250 pounds lighter than the character he portrays. Oh, and Henry’s
hair was orange-red. The actor’s is dark brown.

a result of this total charade, I’m officially placing Jonathan Rhys Meyers in
the Repman Hall of Shame for worst casting ever. Other members include: 

– Gary
Cooper as Lou Gehrig in ‘Pride of the Yankees.’ Cooper batter right-handed in
the movie even though Lou was a lefty (and Cooper was a weathered-looking
50-something trying to portray a teenaged Lou at Columbia University. Ugh.).

Goodman as Babe Ruth. Babe was big, but he was never
that big.

Bendix as Babe Ruth. Bendix’s total lack of athleticism was laughingly bad.

Costner as Robin Hood. A Hollywood accent in Sherwood Forest. Not likely, mate.

Cruise in Valkyrie. See above for accent abuse.

actor portraying Abraham Lincoln (if you have a chance, check The History
Channel’s ‘History of Us’ mini-series. You’ll see the Lincoln character
surrounded by men his own height. Never happened. At 6’4”, Lincoln was our
tallest president. And, he lived at a time when the average man was, well Rhys
Meyers-sized. He towered over one and all).

casting can undermine the integrity, image and reputation of a production. In
the case of the Tudors, it has positively ruined what was an otherwise
enjoyable mini-series. One only wonders what the real Henry and his six wives
must think of the Rhys Meyers character. Knowing Henry Tudor, he’d probably
scream, ‘Off with his head!’