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An interview with a Queen Margaret

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In Part 2, the first time you come on stage, you see Henry. Denice is playing him, you plant a kiss on her.
Yes.
Or him, whatever.
Shim. [Laughs]

There were three things that went through my mind: Wow! That Sarah is really sexy ...
[Laughs]
Geez, that’s bold of Margaret ...
Mm-hmm.
Third, you’re already screwing Suffolk, what’s going on there? You guys are the ones who came up with this—was it you, was it Denice, was it the two of you?

It was a joint conversation we had. There’s some mention of welcoming her, kissing her [Henry says, “Welcome, Queen Margaret: I can express no kinder sign of love than this kind kiss”]. Denice took my hand the first time that we rehearsed it, and I thought, “How about if you go for that and I change it into a kiss.” And she was like, “Absolutely, I love it. I love it.” For that moment, I wanted to show, again, how Margaret, is ballsy and how she is really kind of staking her claim here and she’s saying—lovingly, also to show the affection she has for her husband, I thought that was important—but to also show that she is the aggressor, that she changes the rules a bit, that she’s not afraid to do that. “This pansy-assed kiss-you-on-the-hand, no, no, that’s not the way we’re going to play this out. This is Margaret, this is the woman that you’re going to be with.” And we hoped it would also be evocative and elicit response. And it did.

Which is part of what the Ren Season is all about…
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Does that opening kiss set up the precipitous demise in Margaret’s relationship with Henry?

I don’t think so. I don’t think so, because the Henry at the beginning of that play is not different from the Henry that’s at the end of that play or in Part 3. And I love the speeches; Sarah as an actor thinks that the speech Henry gives on the battlefield on the molehill in Part 3 is beautiful. But Sarah as Margaret goes, “Dude, oh yeah, it would be nice to be a f****** shepherd? You’re the king. You can’t be a shepherd and just sit around and count your sheep. I know that you don’t want all this responsibility, but that is the job, buddy, and you have not stepped up to the job ever, and that’s why we’re in this situation.” It’s flowery and it’s poetic and it’s beautiful, but for a king to be speaking that on a battlefield, me as Margaret I’m like, “Whoaaa! You can’t possibly be serious” [laughs]. It’s very interesting to me.

But he wants peace, and that is a wonderful thing. I want a president who wants peace, I get it. But what I don’t think Henry has ever been able to wrap his mind around is that that’s a lovely idea but it is not always possible, nor is it always the best solution. Sometimes you have to make war for things to get better. Or to secure your seat or whatever it is, then you have to be willing to wage it for the right reasons. You have to be willing to do that.

The first time I see him get ornery is in the very last scene he’s in.

Yep, with Richard, yeah. But that’s it. Other than that, he’s going, “Well, I’ll wait for God to tell me what to do,” and I’m just, “What are you talking about?”

It’s such an odd match, too, Margaret and Henry. Margaret’s too much of a firebrand to stand for that. That’s why she does what she does. So, I think the demise of Henry–Margaret was going to happen no matter what, because of Henry’s inability to make the decisions in crises that need to be made, the tough ones. And in Part 2, he’s still looking to Gloucester for a big chunk of that play before Margaret finally convinces him, “You know what? You don’t need a protector anymore. We don’t need him."
And then he turns it over to you.
Yeah.
And then he turns it over to Warwick and Clarence.
Yeah. Yeah. He’s just willing to give away everything, that guy, including his son’s birthright.

Which, I can tell from your expression, still angers you.

Yeah, of course. Well, I still have to play Margaret one more time, too [the closing performance of Henry VI, Part 3, was a couple of nights away]. I’ve got to keep the fire going. [Laughs] But, who does that? And, again, he does it to try to keep the peace. But at the end of the day I also think it’s pretty selfish what he does. He says, “Let me, for my lifetime—for my lifetime—let me reign. And let me reign in peace.”

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