Perou @ Patricia McMahon

The Globe Theatre

This summer talented Brit actress Miranda Raison takes centre stage playing two versions of Henry VIII’s doomed wife - Anne Boleyn - back to back at London’s Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Her first portrayal is in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, then she’ll take the title role in renowned playwright Howard Brenton’s latest offering, Anne Boleyn. Miranda told us about corsets, cutting off her hair and keeping secrets…

Anne Boleyn was a very controversial woman - is it exciting to be playing her?

Very much so. Howard’s Brenton’s play is a very dangerous play. It concentrates on Anne’s passion for Henry, her passion for politics, and her passion for religion.

What was it like to wear the amazing Tudor dresses?

They were really heavy! [In Henry VIII] there is a coronation outfit and the train is 7 metres long and has gold metal thread weaved into it. It’s unbelievably heavy. The corsets aren’t nearly as tight as they would have been back then but they do pinch you in.

Is it difficult to act with all that on?

I actually quite like acting in all that stuff! I feel quite relaxed in it. As long as your posture is good, it’s actually quite comfortable.

If you could play a character from another historical period, when would it be?

I absolutely love the twenties and thirties - partly because of the costume but partly because of the hedonistic attitude of that period. There is something very appealing and seductive about that time.

A lot of people will think of you as Spooks’ Jo Portman with short blond hair and a tough leather jacket. Which look do you prefer - MI5 agent or Queen of England?

Oh God - I don’t know. I loved having the short hair. When it was at its shortest I had it longer at the front and then clippers on a grade 4 at the back. Right now I’m loving the more lavish and feminine look but the short hair is definitely something I’ll want to go back to. And in a few years time I’ll probably shave it all off again!

Do your different looks change how you see yourself?

I felt that when I cut my hair off I wanted to be tougher and it changed me slightly. I felt less like an annoying, pretty posh girl! I felt more edgy. I found it quite liberating.

Would have made a good M15 agent in real life?

Probably not. I’m not great at keeping even the smallest of secrets and I need a lot of sleep. To be an agent, you’ve got to keep your mouth shout and survive on no sleep and neither of those things are for me!

Do you prefer being on the small screen, the silver screen (Miranda starred in Woody Allen’s Match Point) or the stage?

There have been a few times whilst I’ve been doing Henry VIII and I’ve just thought, ‘oh my god this feels amazing!’ With filming you don’t really have those moments where you get completely overwhelmed with an emotion. The intensity of theatre is extraordinary.

The Globe has no roof (it was built to resemble an Elizabethan playhouse) – so you must be battling all sorts of weather?

You’re fighting the elements: there are umbrellas and helicopters. You can never rest on your laurels, because you might have to say the same line on four different nights in four completely different ways just to get it heard.

How do you relax?

I’ve started playing golf in the last year - I’ve got really into it and joined my local golf club. I’ve got a girlfriend in Suffolk who plays and she asked if I wanted to I thought ‘sod it! I’ll give a go!’ The men can hit it further but that often means they hit it further in the wrong direction.

What’s next?

I’ve just become an Ambassador for a charity called Sentebale which is Prince Harry’s charity for the children of Lesthoto [a small country in Southern Africa]. I’m going to do a trip out there in early autumn. I have nothing else in the diary yet but whatever does happen it will have to work around that trip. It’s an amazing charity.

To book tickets for Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn contact Shakespeare’s Globe +44 (0)20 7401 9919 Henry VII runs to August 21. Anne Boleyn runs from 24th July - 21st August

To find out more about Sentebale, click on

Continued below...

By Marisa Bate