Why Becoming Elizabeth Star Alicia Von Rittberg Thought There Was A 'Mistake' In Her Audition To Play Elizabeth Tudor

Alicia von Rittberg as Elizabeth Tudor in Becoming Elizabeth
(Image credit: Starz)

The story of one of the most iconic monarchs in British history is coming to Starz with Becoming Elizabeth, although the new historical drama is telling Elizabeth Tudor's story with a twist. The show picks up not with Queen Elizabeth I on the throne of England, but teenage Elizabeth in the wake of Henry VIII’s death. Alicia von Rittberg plays the future Tudor queen for the new series, but she shared with CinemaBlend that she actually thought that there was a mistake when she was asked to audition. 

Ahead of the premiere of Becoming Elizabeth, the leading lady (who has also appeared in other notable TV projects including Netflix’s Charite and Nat Geo’s Genius) opened up about the casting process of playing such a famous figure from British history. When asked about her experience, Alicia von Rittberg said:

Well, to be honest, I just got an invitation to record myself, basically a self tape, and I thought it was a mistake, because I would have never imagined myself playing a British queen. You know, I'm German. Then when I got the call that I'm invited for my first live audition, I still thought there must be some kind of mix-up. [laughs] Can't be real! Then I got invited for the first test screening, which was basically like the third round, and that's when I met everyone for the first time, and they didn't even question the fact that I was German and I would have to work on my accent, obviously. It didn't even occur to them that that could be a problem. So they believed in it, and that really helped me to believe in it myself. Then I did get the part, and that was just incredible. Absolutely incredible.

The German actress wouldn’t have considered herself in the running to play the woman who would go on to become Queen Elizabeth I, but she clearly nailed each stage of the audition process to land the role and anchor the latest historical drama on Starz. The network has a history of period dramas with twists, with shows like The White Queen (starring Rebecca Ferguson) and The White Princess (starring Jodie Comer). Those were both adaptations of Philippa Gregory novels, however, in contrast to Becoming Elizabeth, with episodes written primarily by executive producer Anya Reiss.

It doesn’t take long for the new miniseries to showcase why Alicia von Rittberg was the right choice to play young Elizabeth in the wake of her father’s death, with younger brother Edward (Oliver Zetterström) sitting the throne as an ardent Protestant and older sister Mary (Romola Garai) ahead of her in the line of succession, albeit with the significant complication of her Catholic faith. 

Her safe haven with Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife Catherine Parr (Jessica Raine) and new husband Thomas Seymour (played by Knightfall alum Tom Cullen) may not be quite so safe as she initially thinks. The show presents a side of Elizabeth I’s history that doesn’t usually make it onto the large or small screen, and plants the seeds for what the monarch known as “the Virgin Queen” becomes so famous for.

Of course, this isn’t a documentary, and Alicia von Rittberg’s performance is the anchor that the series needs with so much turmoil in the plot in the wake of Henry VIII’s death. Be sure to check out her take on the future Queen Elizabeth I with the series premiere of Becoming Elizabeth on Sunday, June 12 at 9 p.m. ET on Starz. 

Starz series already have a history of recreating long-gone time periods to great effect, and not just with shows like The White Queen and The White Princess. Outlander has become one of the network’s biggest hits at six seasons and counting, set almost entirely in the mid-to-late 18th century. Becoming Elizabeth will be a new take on the 16th century, and not a series to miss for any fans of period dramas. 

For some additional viewing options as the weather continues to warm and summer TV shows return, check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).