I don’t know that I have a crush on Queen Mary I of England (1516-58, reigned 1553-58), but I do find her fascinating. She’s so generally overlooked for her more famous sister (Elizabeth I), and she had such a chaotic and sad life. Daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon (their only child to live to adulthood), she was first princess of England and heir, then declared a bastard and separated from her mother for years (her mother died without the two ever seeing her again).
She waited in the wings while Edward VI reigned, then at his death, the English people by and large supported her against Lady Jane Grey.
Mary instituted the Counter-Reformation, earning the nickname “Bloody Mary” for persecuting Protestants who wouldn’t convert back to Catholicism. Her marriage had been planned and canceled numerous times during her upbringing; she finally married King Philip II of Spain, but probably too late to have a child, which she desperately wanted. Then on top of everything, she had at least one false pregnancy (maybe more), which must have just been heartbreaking. She died at only age 42, possibly of ovarian cancer, which is ironic given her difficulties with conceiving.
I always wonder what might have been had her father not been a dick, had she married at a younger age, and just generally had a happier life. She’s also England’s first queen regnant, and that’s pretty darn significant.
Let’s take a look at Mary Tudor on screen! Note, there are a few productions that I can’t find any images of Mary from, including:
- Marie Tudor (1917): played by Jeanne Delvair
- Young Bess (1953): Ann Tyrrell
- Henry VIII (2003): Lara Belmont
A film about Lady Jane Grey. Gwen Ffrangcon Davies plays Mary.
Pearls of the Crown (1937)
One of French director Sacha Guitry‘s episodic takes on history: “Tracing the history of seven valuable pearls of the English Crown from the time of Henry VIII of England to the present day (1937). Writer Jean Martin (Guitry) attempts to track down three of the missing pearls by tracing their previous owners, with events seen in flashback, involving Napoleon, King Henry VIII and Elizabeth I of England amongst others.” Yvette Pienne plays Mary (and also Elizabeth!).
The Prince and the Pauper (1962)
A TV miniseries adaptation (by Disney) of the Mark Twain novel. Sheila Allen plays Mary.
Marie Tudor (1966)
Apparently Victor Hugo wrote a story about Mary I, and it’s been adapted several times by French cinema. This one starred Kathy Fraise as young Mary, and Françoise Christophe as an adult.
Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
Nicola Pagett makes a brief appearance in this Anne Boleyn-focused film, visiting her mother on her deathbed — which, of course, never happened in real life.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)
I can’t find any pics, but apparently Verina Greenlaw plays a young Mary in the Catherine of Aragon episode of this famous BBC TV series. Alison Frazer plays the teenage Mary in the Jane Seymour and Catherine Parr episodes.
Elizabeth R (1971)
Daphne Slater plays an older Mary in the BBC TV classic miniseries about her sister.
Henry VIII and his Six Wives (1972)
Sarah Long plays the teenage Mary in this Henry/wife-focused biopic.
Die Liebe und die Königin (1977)
Another adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel, with Inge Keller as Mary.
Lady Jane (1986)
One of the more focused looks at Mary comes from this Lady Jane Grey story, with Jane Lapotaire as Mary.
Kathy Burke plays a miserable, paranoid Mary in the early scenes of the Shekar Kapur/Cate Blanchett biopic.
Thanks to Trystan for finding what looks like a deeply shitty documentary, so shitty I can’t even find it on IMDB so no idea who’s playing Mary.
No cast is listed on IMDB for what looks like yet another shitty doc.
The Virgin Queen (2006)
Joanne Whalley plays Mary in the early scenes of yet another QE1 biopic.
The Tudors (2007-10)
Bláthnaid McKeown plays young Mary in the Catherine of Aragon episodes, then Sarah Bolger takes over as teen Mary.
The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
Constance Stride briefly shows up as Mary, yet again inaccurately at Catherine’s deathbed. Why are people so determined to make Henry not-so-horrible?
The Twisted Tale of Bloody Mary (2008)
Miranda French plays Mary in what appears to be a low-budget something.
Horrible Histories (2012)
Sarah Hadland plays Mary in a song that basically explains her deal. Apparently Alice Lowe also played her, but I can’t find the evidence.
Wolf Hall (2015)
Lily Lesser plays young teenage Mary in this Anne Boleyn/Thomas Cromwell-focused adaptation of the Hilary Mantel novel.
Six Wives with Lucy Worsley (2016)
Both Scarlett Cecil and Grace Drew are credited as “Princess Mary.” Scarlett is pictured below, so I’m guessing Grace played teen Mary?
El ministerio del tiempo (2020)
Rachel Lascar plays Mary in an episode focused on “Bloody Mary” of this Spanish, time-travel show.
Have there been any decent portrayals of the “real” Mary I of England on screen?