At this point, there are two big threats in the world of Reign: The Darkness and King Henry. One is a pagan creature we’ve yet to really see; the other is the handsome man who sits on the throne by day and partakes in life-or-death sexcapades by night. But what’s in store now that Bash has had his first experience with The Darkness — and Henry has explained his feelings of divine entitlement?
We talked with Alan Van Sprang about Henry’s future, the newest woman in his life, and of course, that one time he humped a woman out of a window.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Last week ended with Henry on a bit of a power high. He’s got this sense of divine entitlement. How far is that going to go? Are these murderous sexcapades going to continue?
ALAN VAN SPRANG: I can’t say anything about that, but what’s happened is he has found clarity for himself, 100 percent. He was reborn, so to speak, that day when he saw the crucifix over his bed. He found God. He’s a strong Catholic, but he is now motivated by God and to him, it is 100 percent clarity. He’s not crazy whatsoever. He knows exactly what he wants, who he wants, how he’s going to get it, how many countries it’s going to take to achieve these goals, and nothing’s going to stand in his way. He doesn’t care so much about his family anymore. All he cares about in terms of his family is the unification of Francis and Mary and getting Scotland, and then getting England, because once he has Scotland, then he can get England. But everything is crystal clear to him. To everybody else in court — his wife, his sons, Mary, Kenna, everyone — he is absolutely nuts. Something is going wrong with him.
And with all these deaths around the castle as well, the girl falling out the window and then the prostitute that he ended up killing in bed with Kenna, all these things, it’s suspect that nobody is safe around him. It has nothing to do with who he’s intimate with. It has to do with anybody. Anybody is fair game for him. He’s not a woman hater, it has nothing to do with that. He’s just sort of climbing over everyone, and it’s not even a fetish of killing people in particular. I think these random acts just have to do with this clarity that he’s found — that things are easy to break. What he keeps saying over and over again is that he can break them, he can break them. And now, which I found too in the last couple of episodes, he’s sort of repetitive. He keeps saying things over and over again. So anyway, what I do is, I get the scripts and I go on set and I just play him as though he’s just been through detox, and he’s clear and he’s open and he’s relatively happy. I’m not going to try to play him like Jack Nicholson in The Shining or anything, it’s just got to be a clarity and an openness to the world because anything is possible. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, because something’s going down with the guy.
You mentioned the women he’s killed, and I just have to briefly ask your reaction when you read the scene where you humped a woman out of a window. Because that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen on television.
Well, that’s probably the greatest thing we ever read at the table read. Just before the read, you get the script, you go through each scene, you sort of skim through what’s going on, and you read it and you think, “Oh, well that’s terrible, someone falls out a window.” And of course it’s during intercourse, because it’s Henry, and that’s what happens. But [when] we read it together for the first time, there’s 12 of us around the table, and then they’re reading the stage directions at the same time — we just broke out in laughter. Everyone was in hysterics, because you think, “Could that really happen? Did that happen?” And then you think, “OK ,how are we going to shoot that? How are we going to make it so it’s just not absolutely bonkers?” It just wouldn’t happen; nobody would believe it.
So that happens, and then he’s freaked out and he goes to Catherine. Then we have this whole episode where they’re dragging a body around and they’re getting together again and they’re all happy. It’s like an episode of Lucille Ball or something. It was just really amazing, the way that whole episode was constructed and directed as well — by Norma Bailey — because when I saw it, I thought, “Okay, it worked because it was just so unbelievable that that happened, but so humorous when she fell out.” And then through that, bang, I interrupt Catherine talking to Mary about what potions to use to get herself pregnant or to get her husband aroused to get her pregnant. And then, boom, she’s helping me out and we’re collecting a body and cleaning up the mess of the dead body. Anyway, it was an amazing episode to work on.
I think fans are dying for more Henry and Catherine after that episode.
And we are too. When Megan and I met, we became fairly close in the beginning as good friends, but we didn’t have too too much to do. It was just a little bicker here and there. But after we shot the episode where I tell her to take her hair down and we kiss, and we’re talking about our past, and we were in love once, I think that sort of put us onto a new level. After that was shot, we thought there was a lot of chemistry between these characters. They can go up and down because they hate each other so much, but they came from such an honest and pure love. They were married when they were 14, so they were just kids. To have that description of them when they were younger, I just found [that] was a really remarkable transition for the show — to go from the focus of these young kids falling in love and becoming new kings and queens to actually seeing the king and queen talking about themselves when they were young. It was really great.
This week, there’s a Queen for a Day contest. I hear things get interesting with Henry and the contest winner.
Queen for a Day [is] like a lottery for the servants. They become a queen for a day, so they get to hang out with me, get to sit on the throne and all that. When I find out who won, I find her very interesting. Not only do I find her interesting, but I start to give her some power, and I’m becoming a little bit obsessed with her. And at the same time, I’m a bit paranoid as well around the castle. I think people are after me, I think people are trying to kill me, including my family. And I think that she is sort of my savior, and through that I’m starting to give her a lot of information about myself, about the goings on in the castle, about Mary. And I’m fairly convinced that she is my queen. That’s sort of what happens. And this young woman, Penelope, she’s more than game to go along for the ride, becoming the real queen of France.
Henry and his women …
It’s not something I expected when I took on the job, but man, it was a lot. Yeah. [Laughs]
We have to touch on The Darkness. Francis and Bash go after it this week. What can you tell me about The Darkness potentially making its way to the castle? Is it going to come up on Henry’s radar?
Well, I can’t say anything about that. It’s not something that’s going to be happening in episode 16. They’re going after The Darkness, and we are not even privy to this information at this point. And I know that there’s a moment where Francis is going out to help Sebastian find this Darkness and what it is. But I’m assuming, as it escalates throughout the rest of the season, that it is going to become some sort of threat onto the castle. At this point, nobody really knows what it is. It’s obviously a very pagan occurrence that’s going on. But at this point, I can’t even touch The Darkness because it’s a spoiler issue.
You can just keep touching your women. It’s fine.
[Laughs] That’s all I get to do. We open the scripts, it’s like, “Okay, here we go.” [Laughs]
Below, check out an exclusive video of Catherine warning the winner of the Queen for a Day contest about Henry’s, er, stamina:
Reign airs tonight at 9 p.m. on The CW.