(KGET) — The majority of actors spend years trying to land a job on a project that is so big it makes them a household name. There was no waiting for “The Spanish Princess” stars Laura Carmichael and Georgie Henley as they started their professional acting careers with massively popular productions.
Long before taking on the role of Margaret Pole in the Starz series, Carmichael played Lady Edith Crawley in the award-winning television series “Downton Abbey.” The first acting job for Henley, who portrays Margaret Tudor on the Starz series, was playing Lucy Pevensie in the film adaptation of the beloved book “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
Such early success gave both instant recognition. It did not give them unlimited confidence.
Henley says, “You always worry. Every time you come off a job, you think you are never going to work again. I think every actor thinks that way. But I have been really lucky that people have taken chances on me and given me roles that are very different from my breakout role in ‘Narnia’.
“I really hope that continues because part of the fun of acting is trying on new people and not playing the same role again and again and again.”
Her role in “The Spanish Princess” definitely falls under the very different category. In the series about the early years of Henry VII (Ruairi O’Connor), her Margaret Tudor is a playful tomboy who is a witty foil to her two brothers. Upon learning of her arranged marriage to King James IV of Scotland as part of a peace treaty, she becomes fearful of a future that has been decided for her.
“The Spanish Princess” is the follow-up to the Golden Globe and Emmy award-nominated Starz miniseries “The White Queen” and the critically acclaimed Starz limited series “The White Princess.” The concluding part of “The Spanish Princess” continues the story of Queen Catherine (Charlotte Hope) and Henry VIII as they preside over the most glamorous court in Europe and are beloved by their people. Together they create an England that is proud, confident and strong enough to withstand threat from abroad.
Carmichael also has had the opportunity to play a very different character with Margaret Pole than she had with Lady Edith Crawley. Pole quietly despises the Tudors and the political machinations of the court. She also resents the Spanish Princess Catherine for her mother Isabella’s role in ordering the execution. Despite this, she adores her nephew Prince Arthur and serves as his guardian and mentor.
Carmichael considers herself lucky starting her career with such a big project and then getting to play such different roles since then.
“We both have had things that we feel early in our careers that set us up in a way that opened a lot of doors,” Carmichael adds. “That’s a privilege. To have things that you are really proud of gives you a freedom to go ‘I’ll try that.’
“I think it means you get to be quite brave quite early on and try things out. And take risks.”
The risk both took with signing on to be part of “The Spanish Princess” cast has been paying off through the first season and now into season two. That has definitely been the case with Henley’s character as she has found herself going from silenced wife to more of a leadership role.
Henley loves the deep dive that is going with her character this season.
“Because she’s up in Scotland, you have this whole new world with the Scottish court,” Henley says. “Even though she is married to the King of Scotland, she is seen as an outsider because she is English.
“There is a real complexity to her loyalties to England, her loyalties to Catherine and Henry and her loyalties to her husband.”
Henley likes how the storylines for Margaret and Catherine are running along a parallel course but they are dealing with what happens in very different ways.
How both well-known actors are handling this season can be seen now as the eight-episode series adapted from Philippa Gregory’s novels The Constant Princess and The King’s Curse continues to air on Starz.