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Tony Curran Unpacks the Intimate On-Screen Moments in Mary & George

Tony Curran Unpacks the Intimate On-Screen Moments in Mary & George

There’s something delightfully bold and daring about Mary & George, the sexy new Starz drama starring Julianne Moore (May December), Nicholas Galitzine (Red, White and Royal Blue), and Tony Curran (Daredevil). Finally, King James I, the famous 17th-century royal who spearheaded, among other things, the King James version of The Bible, is given a proper telling.

The queerness of King James is on full display throughout this limited series, which is also executive-produced by Moore. But it’s not the central story. Still, it’s generating plenty of buzz. Created by D.C. Moore (Killing Eve, Temple) and inspired by the book The King’s Assassin, written by Benjamin Woolley, the series chronicles the fascinating true story of how Mary Villiers (Moore), led her charming second son, George (Galitzine) to seduce King James I (Curran), and ultimately become his powerful lover.

Other historical highlights factor into the mix here—from high court folly to friction with Spain. Fans of wickedly fun historical dramas loaded with scheming, compelling characters and sharp editing that briskly moves the story along will enjoy the tale. Meanwhile, in an exclusive MovieWeb interview, Tony Curran unpacked how he and Nicholas Galitzine approached their love scenes and so much more. Dive in.

Morphing Into King James I in Mary & George

Mary & George

Mary & George

Release Date
April 5, 2024

Julianne Moore , Nicholas Galitzine , Tony Curran , Mark O’Halloran , Niamh Algar


Streaming Service(s)

Read Our Review

Mary & George is a joy to experience. As the series tracks Mary Villiers’ outrageous plot to rise up in society, ultimately, her son, George, lands before King James I. It was a standout role for Tony Curran, who captured attention as Despero in The Flash TV series, and other roles, from Secret Invasion and Ray Donovan to the Bryan Cranston-led series Your Honor. He immediately found the Mary & George scripts “amazing.”

“The characters were so ‘there’ on the page, and it was a joy to relish in bringing these characters and these words to life that D.C. Moore had beautifully written,” he said. In researching the subject matter and talking to novelist Benjamin Woolley, he went on to say he pondered the state of King James I at the time, especially:

“Where his head was at, where he saw himself going in the future, and a lot of the conversations were based on the sort of trauma that he [King James I] may have gone through with his father being assassinated, Lord Darnley, his mother Mary, Queen of Scots, being executed by Queen Elizabeth I, and a lot of that sort of
traumatic nature of his childhood
was definitely relevant in his future within our story… his vulnerability and the way he behaved… influenced James greatly and in some good ways but obviously sadly in some darker moments also.”

Handling On-Screen Intimacy in Mary & George

To be sure, Mary & George is an alluring drama. King James had many male lovers at the time, which the series illuminates early on, especially in the first three episodes when George eagerly campaigns to enter the King’s court and, ultimately, his boudoir. When asked about how he and Nicholas Galitzine handled their on-screen characters and chemistry and some of the more steamy scenes, Curran said:

“I think a lot of it was our relationship — between me and Nick. [There] was a lot of levity on set, we had a lot of fun. But the way we approached it was very human. It was very… obviously, there was a sensuality to these scenes, a sexuality. They do talk about King James and why the 23-year Jacobean period wasn’t as well known as the Victorian time, Edwardian, Elizabethan, and Tudors. And my friend D.C. Moore, who wrote it, also mentioned the fact he [King James] was Scottish. He was not a warring king, and he was also queer.


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“So without putting too fine a point on it,” he added, “I think those three elements had a lot to do with why maybe this period of history isn’t as well-known as other periods, which I think sadly has a sort of hypocritical tone to it as well… if you highlight these other monarchs. Why wouldn’t you highlight a monarch like King James?” Curran continued to explain why James was fascinating:

The King James Bible
— he translated the first British colony in the Americas, the Caribbean, and, of course, Jamestown, and the profound effect that he had on Europe at that time also. He wasn’t a warring king — France and Spain… it was a 23-year peacetime because he brokered peace with France and Spain. So, I think he’s a very little-known monarch, but I think his influence on a global stage is quite profound also.”

Turning in an Award-Worthy Performance

Tony Curran is a commanding presence in Mary & George, and creator D.C. Moore’s tale certainly unfolds with vigor. The scenes between Curran and Galitzine are well crafted, often more “artistic” than overtly or purposely salacious. Bare skin may capture attention, but this lavish series often works best outside the bedroom.

That said, look for Curran’s name to emerge during awards season for his powerful, scene-stealing performance of the eccentric king. The ensemble cast also includes Nicola Walker, Niamh Algar, Trine Dyrholm, Sean Gilder, Adrian Rawlins, Mark O’Halloran, Laurie Davidson, and Samuel Blenkin. Mary & George airs Fridays at 9 p.m. (ET) on Starz. Watch the trailer below.

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