“Becoming Elizabeth” – Why the Iconic Queen’s Origin Story Bears Retelling

“We all think we know who Elizabeth I is, she's a total icon, but actually we really don’t,” executive producer George Ormond said during a TCA press conference for the new STARZ original series Becoming Elizabeth. “This story is incredible and it's really contemporary. It’s shocking. It’s provocative. It’s about a young, teenage girl who thinks she’s an adult, who thinks she’s equipped to deal with adult things, and is thrust into this world that’s dangerous and finds herself drawn into this relationship, which raises all sorts of questions about consent and power. And we couldn't believe that this hadn't been dramatized before, but it hasn't. And it feels like it’s a definitive part of how she becomes who she becomes. And we just thought it was an incredible story that needed to be told.”



“We always talked about Henry as being this kind of collective trauma that everyone, even the adult men, have been through,” series creator and executive producer Anya Reiss explained about the story’s entry point. “They lived under the reign of a violent dictator and we start our story with the death of a tyrant and everyone trying to rearrange themselves after that. I think even the political players in that are all quite traumatized by what they’ve been through of living under his reign.” The series also avoids the tropes of other dramatizations of the royal family. “I don’t really, as a rule, believe in villains. I believe in people doing very bad things, but I'm not really interested in anyone being villains or heroes in this. I’m just interested in those real people and trying to make a world of that.”

“The relationship between Elizabeth and her father is, well, too difficult to get it right,” actress Alicia von Rittberg shared, who plays Elizabeth I. “Elizabeth was basically incredibly alone in this world and grew up without her mother, and I think her father gave her that last sense of security in a way.” With Elizabeth’s younger half-brother taking the throne following her father’s death, the young royal followed her stepmother Catherine Parr to a new life that would shape her future. “It’s a question of where do I belong that suddenly pops up as well and that can be incredibly scary when you're that young.”

“A lot of these characters are passed by in history and you kind of jump to the bits that we’ve heard,” said Tom Cullen, who plays Thomas Seymour, the man Catherine marries, making him a new father figure in Catherine’s life. “One of the most exciting things about this show is that it’s about characters that we don’t really hear about and we don’t pass them by and we go into it. And, actually, we really learn about the influence that these people had on Elizabeth in her early life and what made her incredibly iconic, and what made her this extraordinary person. It really gets to the root of that.”

Diver deeper into Elizabeth I’s origin story than ever before in Becoming Elizabeth, premiering Sunday, June 12th at 9/8c on STARZ and streaming now in the STARZ app.

Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).