The White Queen: Family at war

17:00, Jun 16 2014
Rebecca Ferguson
THE WHITE QUEEN: Rebecca Ferguson plays Elizabeth Woodville in Prime's new period drama.

Beautiful costumes, stunning scenery, elaborate sets and a fair amount of seducing and scheming might sum up The White Queen, Prime's new British period drama that cost a whopping $50 millionto make.

Starring Jeremy Irons' son Max, 28, as the handsome King Edward IV and Rebecca Ferguson, 30, as the beautiful Elizabeth Woodville, the series (which was filmed in Belgium) starts in 1464 when England is at war over who should wear the crown.

Elizabeth's husband has been killed and she must beg King Edward IV for her confiscated land so she can support herself and her two sons.

The meeting leads to marriage - although not everyone in their respective extended families is happy. 
Ferguson, who is the daughter of an English mother and a Swedish father, was thrilled to have won the role of Elizabeth.

"It was an absolute emotional roller coaster," she says of the casting process. "It was my first casting in London and I was sent straight into a chemistry test with Max Irons. I walked in with all my nerves but we just clicked and it was amazing chemistry between us straight away - which helped to get rid of half the fear.

"More auditions followed and I thought, 'I must forget about the role'. I thought I should pull my act together and went for a seven-hour hike (I live in Sweden), leaving my phone behind for the first time since the last audition as I had even been sleeping with it.


"When I came back from my walk I had around 15 missed calls and texts from my agent saying, 'Where are you? We need to fly you to London tomorrow'."

Born and raised in Stockholm, Ferguson, who is fluent in Swedish and English, says she always wanted to do a historical series.

"I was brought up watching English period dramas with Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren and thinking, 'Gosh, if only I could just have a little role'. I hadn't heard of Elizabeth, and all of a sudden I'm playing the character of someone who was not born and raised in royalty, but was brought in and left to find her own way of surviving.

"It was a very interesting character to play. I didn't know the details of the War Of The Roses, just that it was white versus red."

Time constraints meant that Rebecca's ability to find out about that period in history was limited.

"I did struggle to do as much research as I would have liked as I started filming within the week of being cast," she says.

"Amazingly, production sent me Elizabeth Woodville's history on two pages of A4. Also Philippa Gregory (author of The White Queen, the fourth book in The Cousins' War series) and Emma Frost (a writer on the TV series) were so kind and said that I could email them about anything. My family and friends also went into overdrive giving me all the information they could about Elizabeth, but I couldn't take on too much at once."

The White Queen
Prime, 9.35pm, Wednesday

- TV Guide