TV

Anne Boleyn Actors Ranked From Low-Rent to Regal


TikTok is abuzz with Natalie Dormer in The Tudors, but was she really the best movie and TV Anne Boleyn?

Claire Foy in Wolf Hall, Natalie Dormer in The Tudors, Genevieve Bujold in Anne of the Thousand Days
Photo: BBC, Showtime, Hal Wallis Productions

Anne Boleyn has been played on screen since the silent movie era. She’s been portrayed as a six-fingered boo-hiss villain, a Saturday Night Live punchline, a ghost haunting Princess Diana, and in recent stage musical Six, a Kate Nash-style aitch-dropping popstrel.

Now, Henry VIII’s second wife is trending on TikTok as a new generation gets sucked into the scandals of the Tudor court and stakes their allegiance to her, the Spanish queen unseated for her, the simpering virgin who followed her, or any other player during this eventful period in history when the king of England made the position of queen a revolving door. One thing the new Tudor fans seem to agree upon is that they aren’t #TeamHenry.

Leaving aside most of the one-note portrayals and the TV shows and movies in which Anne Sans Tête is only a bit player in somebody else’s story (Vanessa Redgrave in A Man for All Seasons, Oona Kirsch in God’s Outlaw, Alice Nokes in The Spanish Princess…) below are the on-screen portrayals of Anne Boleyn that did more than just stick her shivering on the executioner’s scaffold, ranked from ropey to downright regal.

10. Natalie Portman in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Is it damning with faint praise to say that Natalie Portman’s performance is the best thing about this lightweight, soapy picture? Perhaps so, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Portman did what she could with a flat script and an alien accent, but she’d needed to have worked a miracle to lift this two-dimensional Anne off the screen.

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