Reign, The CW’s regal new period drama which debuts Thursday at 9/8c, introduces viewers to a luminous young Mary Stuart (played by Adelaide Kane, Teen Wolf).
In the pilot, the teen Queen of Scots returns to the French palace where she spent time as a child. Despite her new home’s lush trappings and manly eye candy, “It’s like a Venus fly trap for her, the court,” Kane says.”It’s this beautiful, shining gem, covered in poison. She has to be so careful.”
That’s because many people – including some very close to Mary’s future husband, Prince Francis (Toby Regbo, ITV’s The Town) – don’t want to see the dewey-faced young royal cement the relationship between her native Scotland and Francis’ France.
What results is a glittery, intriguing, American Eagle-ized take on real events – and we’ve got some scoop on the series’ key players, direct from the actors who portray them. TVLine recently joined reporters on a WBTV/CBS Studios-sponsored set visit, where we logged plenty of buzz about Mary’s men, a touching trimmed scene and the kind of trouble a gaggle of pretty girls can get into in 16th-century France.
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MARY, MARY, WHY YOU BUGGIN’? | Even before Mary leaves the convent where she’s been hiding for years, a murder attempt proves just how far certain factions will go to take out the young queen. It’s with that in mind that she arrives at court. “She hasn’t really experienced this pomp and ceremony, but she has had it drilled into her head that with the crown comes a vast amount of responsibility. I think that is always her main concern, doing the right thing for her country and doing the right thing as a responsible monarch.”
MEET THE IN-LAWS | Megan Follows (Anne of Green Gables) plays Francis’ cunning, doting mom Queen Catherine; Alan Van Sprang is her brash husband, King Henry – who has quite an eye for the ladies. “I had done The Tudors, so I knew what the English were up to, but this king — there’s a lot of interest in the women among court,” Van Sprang says. “He has his wife Catherine, his mistress Diane, and he seems to be finding some interest in Mary’s friends, as well.” (More on that later.)
WHAT A PRINCE | Mary’s been promised to Francis, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t notice his bastard half-brother, Sebastian (Torrance Coombs, The Tudors) – especially when Francis sends such mixed messages in the first hour.
“They’ve been engaged since they were children, and she’s built up this vision of him and her life with him that she isn’t willing to let go of yet,” Kane says. “Throw into the mix his half-brother, who seems to understand her and her struggles on a very basic, instinctive level, and they just get each other — which is very difficult for her, to find her very attracted to somebody else when she’s so single-minded about being with Francis.” But what Mary doesn’t know: Francis may not share her devotion to their future union in word or deed.
WHERE MY GIRLS AT? | Mary’s clique of court confidants include Greer (Celina Sinden), Kenna (Caitlin Stasey, Australia’s Neighbours), Lola (Anna Popplewell, The Chronicles of Narnia films) – all of whom are there to help/entertain Mary.
And though there’s plenty of girlish giggling and such in the premiere, there’s also a subplot in which Lola discovers the perils of proximity to the young queen. “What you see happen to Lola in the pilot happens to all the ladies at one point or another,” says Popplewell, “which is that conflict between their friendship with Mary and their sense of duty to their queen — which aren’t always necessarily compatible.”
YUP, SHE’S DOING WHAT YOU THINK SHE’S DOING | If there’s any of the ladies-in-waiting you’re likely to remember after Wednesday’s episode, it’s Kenna – who, in a scene cut down from the version shown to TV reporters earlier this year, gets hot and bothered, then takes matters into her own hands… er, hand. While Stassey is very matter-of-fact about the one-woman interlude (she calls the filming of the intimate moment “so sterile”), she’s wary of the hook-up with a royal that follows. “What a turbulent relationship to involve yourself in,” says the actress. “There’s really no way that it can end well.”
COSTUME DRAMA | Though the show’s soundtrack has a modern twist (think A Knight’s Tale), the costumes hew closer to the clothing of the period — a detail both great, Sinden says, and sometimes painful. “The corsets are tough but sort of essential to be able to relate to a woman from the 16th century and what she might have been going through, even though our corsets are definitely more comfortable than what they would have been wearing,” she says. “I’ve found that sitting is near impossible. Eating – also quite hard.” (With reporting by Megan Masters)Follow @kimroots