Jodie Turner-Smith on playing Anne Boleyn: I was often othered, I understand that journey

Jodie Turner-Smith has become one of the most watched celebrities on social media. Her husband, Joshua Jackson, has a very public infatuation with his wife and Jodie seems to take it all in stride. Recently Jodie and Joshua were in a swoon-worthy joint holiday ad for JCrew, which officially made them relationship goals. In her career, Jodie has taken on roles that seem to speak to how Black bodies are treated, like Queen and Slim. This summer, Jodie found herself dealing with an angry mob of British purists when she played historical figure, Anne Boleyn, on a Channel five series called Anne Boleyn. That show started streaming on AMC+ in the US yesterday.

In a new interview with Yahoo! Jodie said that the writers and producers were not going for an accurate depiction of history. Instead they wanted to “tell an emotional human story.” Jody explained that she took on the role of Anne because she connected with the character being othered by the royal courts. (She did not mention Duchess Meghan in this interview, but she has in past interviews.) Below are a few more highlights:

“But obviously our aim was not historical accuracy,” she continues. “Our aim was to tell an emotional human story, and that meant that any actor could play the role. And isn’t it wonderful to finally see actors of color telling these emotional stories that for so long there was only room for white actors to tell? That’s how I feel, and I think that many other people feel that way. And the people that don’t feel that way were never going to watch the series anyway!”

Even though Turner-Smith may not resemble the Anne Boleyn depicted in contemporaneous portraits, she says that she deeply identified with the way the queen was “othered” by the royal court as her husband and Cromwell set her downfall in motion. “I mean, it is my life experience: I’m a woman who was often othered, so I understand that journey. This was my telling of Anne Boleyn in a way that’s unique to me and my experience, but in a way it also allowed me to tap into the universal experience of a woman who was already an outsider in many ways.”

Turner-Smith’s presence lends the series an extra resonance when Anne is put on trial for high treason in 1536. The actress filmed those scenes in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody last year, a case that shined a new light on systemic racial injustice within the American justice system. “For me, those scenes were less about that and more about the limitations placed on women at the time,” she explains. “Don’t be so bold; don’t be so outspoken; don’t ruffle any feathers; know your place — all of these things that I feel Anne sort of refused.”

Beyond feelings of otherness, Turner-Smith says that she also felt bonded to Boleyn by their shared experience of new motherhood. The actress gave birth to her daughter with husband Joshua Jackson five months before production began. “I was nursing and pumping as I shot,” she says, laughing, adding that the demands of production often kept her separated from her newborn.

[From Yahoo!]

I like how Jodie connected feeling being othered to Anne Boleyn’s treatment in the royal court. I actually liked Jodie taking on Anne for the same reasons she said she did because she connected to her emotional human story. Anne Boleyn is one of my favorite women from history and she is a very polarizing figure. I can see why Jodie would be drawn to her. I also like how Jodie was able to connect her role as Anne to her experience of being a first time mother and all the fears that come with that. Jodie had just given birth to her daughter five months before production began so being a mother was very fresh for her.

Jodie also made it clear that the directors and producers of the Anne Boleyn series were not aiming for historical accuracy. They just wanted to tell a human story. This admission really makes the reaction to Jodie’s casting unhinged. It is fascinating to me how the historical “place” for women is not too far off from the modern place. Women who are bold and outspoken often ruffle feathers especially in traditional settings. They are still demonized today just as Anne was in the 17th century. Women are not supposed to be ambitious or want to reach higher than their station. Jodie did a damn great job embodying Anne Boleyn. I cannot wait to see what Jodie does next.

Jodie Turner-Smith poses on the Red Carpet for Stillwater during the 74th Cannes International Film Festival on Thursday 8 July 2021

Jodie Turner Smith and Joshua Jackson for Gap

photos credit:, Backgrid and via Instagram

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

9 Responses to “Jodie Turner-Smith on playing Anne Boleyn: I was often othered, I understand that journey”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Barrett says:

    I just read a book ab royal marriages and scandals and the Anne Boleyn story was in it. I cant wait to see this with her. I love a good emotional story It is so important to shy away from historical accuracy all the time so we have diversity in roles.

  2. M says:

    Anne Boleyn is a fascinating historical character and a famous example on how our view on history and historical women is shaped through the male gaze (and internalized misogony). Because history was documented by men, researched by men and interpreted by men it has really done women ill, even such well known and documented women like Anne Boleyn. I mean she is so offen portraied as this ambitious great seducer, but she did flee Henry 8 court several times and he pursued her all over the country. What choice did she have but to make the best of things then? I mean Henry beheaded two of his wives and divorced another two, and history doesn’t really bat an eye? Surely we can admit his Interpretation can not be trusted? Nevermind that the executioner Was on his way from Calais long before a judgememt was made. Sounds like an absolutely fair Trial whose conclusion was in no way decided beforehand /s. Rant over.
    This has little to do with Jodie portraying a historical character. I personally think the further remove a historical character is to the present (or the more fantastical a story is) the less it matters who they’re portraied by. Like with people everyone still remembered how they look some resemblence makes it easier to get into the story, but nonone knows how Anne truly looked anyway, and its not like anyone everyone paints small pox scars on historical character. It’s a character piece and Jodie seems to have done a great Job.

  3. Becks1 says:

    Damn it AMC+ is one of the few streaming services we don’t get. Wonder if i can do a free trial or something to watch this.

    Love what she says about being “othered”. I think that’s a good take on Anne Boleyn. I find AB to be one of the most fascinating women in history – clearly others think so too since we are telling her story regularly 500 years later and re-examining what we know about her etc.

  4. Sue says:

    Ugh I’ve wanted to see this since I heard it came out in the UK. I’m in the US and am not paying for another damn streaming service. I am obsessed with all things Tudor and so want to see this!
    Also: omg Jodie and Joshua are adorable.

    • Jess says:

      Sue, ditto to all of this. Anne Boleyn and her daughter have always fascinated me and I love JTS. But yea – I can’t pay for yet another streaming service. Fudge!

  5. kate says:

    last pic poc woman on the wooden brown throne: main protagonist fading into the background, most prominent in that pic is the green dress. Says everything about the artistic approach.

  6. TeeMajor says:

    For years this site has been keeping me abreast of all good cinema/television series and yall still do NOT disappoint.

    Thank you for years of great suggestions! I am def watching this one.

  7. goofpuff says:

    Jodie is GORGEOUS and looks perfect for the role to me. Anne Boleyn has been much maligned in history by many historians, much like other historical women who tried to be ambitious, charming, and not tied down by the usual patriarchal expectations of women. She was bold, beautiful, charming, smart, and the equal of any King.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Just commenting to say it is worth paying for AMC to see this series. Jodie is mesmerizing. I am a fan of all Tudor history books and docs. This is a must see