September, 2013 / Written by Krista Smith
England’s Wars of the Roses rage again, on the BBC series The White Queen, based on Philippa Gregory’s novel cycle “The Cousins’ War”; it premieres here this month on Starz. The eponymous heroine, Elizabeth Woodville, is played by Rebecca Ferguson, 29, who happens to be neither blonde nor British. A natural brunette with a British mother, Ferguson has from the age of 15 acted on TV as well as the big screen in her native Sweden, where she lives outside Stockholm with her boyfriend and their son.
The formidable Janet McTeer is her ambitious mother in the series, and King Edward IV is Max Irons, son of the actors Jeremy Irons and Sinéad Cusack. Ferguson recalls how she got her first English part: “I fly to London, and my first meeting is a chemistry test with Max, and then it’s an emotional roller coaster until I get the role. Max and I had a magical click from day one, and then we were each other’s support for six months.”
Of her sumptuous wardrobe she says, “The dresses are all handmade, and when so much time and effort go into something that you’re wearing, it feels very regal.” The 15th-century locations are in Bruges, not London. “This is a story based on the female perspective of what went on during a famous time in history,” says the actress. “It’s a thriller—vibrant, sexy, intense. And it’s real. It’s incredible what they went through then—terrifying if you think about it.”
Ferguson has just finished The Vatican in Rome with director Ridley Scott, and she co-stars with Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson in the upcoming Hercules: The Thracian Wars—“a potpourri of different things,” she says, “which I love.”
© 2013 Vanity Fair