BBC2’s ‘Wolf Hall’ casts Mark Rylance as the lead with Peter Kosminsky directing

Mark Rylance to star as Thomas Cromwell in BBC Two’s Wolf Hall

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© Rebecca Reid

BBC Two and PBS drama adaptation, Wolf Hall has cast Jerusalem star Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, with BAFTA-winning director Peter Kosminsky directing the major adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies.

The six-part serial will follow the meteoric rise of Cromwell in the Tudor court, from his lowly start as the son of a blacksmith to becoming King Henry VIII’s closest advisor.

Writer Peter Straughan, who adapted Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare At Goats and co-wrote the recent BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated adaptation of John Le Carre’s spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, will bring both the novels to screen.

Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two, says: “I’m so pleased that BBC Two will be the home to the adaptation of two of the great books of the last 10 years and I’m delighted we have talent of the standing of Mark Rylance and Peter Kosminsky at the helm of the drama.”

Hilary Mantel says: ““Peter Straughan’s scripts are a miracle of elegant compression, and I believe that with such a strong team the original material can only be enhanced.”

Peter Kosminsky says: “I am absolutely thrilled to have the chance to work with Peter Straughan and Company Pictures/Playground Entertainment on such an exciting, challenging and rewarding project for the BBC and MASTERPIECE on PBS. Peter’s achievement in distilling almost 1000 pages of stunning prose into six taut, compelling episodes is extraordinary. It will be a joy to have the chance to work with Mark Rylance again as he brings to life one of recent fiction’s most complex and compelling characters.”

Former artistic director of The Globe Theatre, Mark Rylance gained international acclaim for his Tony and Olivier award-winning stage performance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron in Jerusalem. This autumn he will star in the Globe’s all-male productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night on Broadway, as well as having directed Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones in the current production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Old Vic Theatre.

Wolf Hall will see acclaimed director Peter Kosminsky reunited with Mark Rylance, who he last directed in his BAFTA-winning drama The Government Inspector. As a writer/director, Peter Kosminsky’s work has spanned Hollywood films such as White Oleander to distinctive and ground-breaking television films such as Warriors, No Child Of Mine, Britz and most recently Channel 4’s The Promise. Peter was awarded the BAFTA Alan Clarke Award for Outstanding Creative contribution to Television in 1999 and the RTS Fellowship in 2006. He is an elected board member of the British Film Institute

Polly Hill, BBC Head of Independent Drama, says: “We have assembled the most extraordinary, talented, award-winning team to produce Wolf Hall which is set to build on BBC Two’s reputation for world-class original British drama. I am thrilled that this project boasts the best in British talent both on and off screen with the most powerful combination of Mark Rylance, Peter Kosminksy and Peter Straughan adapting Hilary Mantel’s prize winning books.”

Colin Callender, Executive Producer, Playground Entertainment, says: “Hilary Mantel is a master storyteller and Playground is proud to be working with her and the remarkable award-winning team of Peter Straughan, Peter Kosminsky and Mark Rylance to bring these two great books to the screen. Ben Stephenson and Polly Hill at the BBC have been staunch advocates and supporters of the project since day one and we are delighted that MASTERPIECE and BBC Worldwide have now joined us as partners also.”

MASTERPIECE on PBS Executive Producer, Rebecca Eaton, says: “Only an enormously gifted actor like Mark Rylance could do justice to Hilary Mantel’s nuanced characterisation of Thomas Cromwell. I have no doubt that our PBS viewers will be dazzled by his performance in Wolf Hall.”

Wolf Hall is a co-production of Company Pictures (Elizabeth I, Shameless, The Devil’s Whore, The Shadow Line) and Playground Entertainment (The White Queen, Dancing On The Edge, Dracula) – the US company helmed by Colin Callender – and MASTERPIECE for BBC Two in association BBC Worldwide.

Polly Hill, BBC Head of Independent Drama, will executive produce for BBC Two, Rebecca Eaton will executive produce for MASTERPIECE, Martin Rakusen and Ben Donald will executive produce for BBC Worldwide, Colin Callender will executive produce for Playground Entertainment, and John Yorke will executive produce for Company Pictures.

Filming will commence on Wolf Hall in Spring 2014 for transmission in 2015, with further cast still to be announced.