The Super Violent White Princess Scene That Was Actually A Lot Of Fun To Film

A brand new take on the first generation of the Tudor monarchy hit the small screen back in spring with The White Princess on Starz, and the marriage of Elizabeth of York to Henry VII took center stage. There were plenty of schemers from the very beginning, and it was in the season finale that Henry finally snapped and assaulted a certain someone. It was an incredibly violent scene, made all the more brutal by the fact that Henry was strangling his own mother. Jacob Collins-Levy played Henry VII in The White Princess, and he recently spoke to CinemaBlend about how that particular scene was actually fun to film, saying this:

One of the things I'm talking about was one of the most difficult was the scene where I strangle my mother, when I throttled her. And I think Michelle [Fairley] and I had a lot of fun shooting that scene. On the flip side of being one of the most difficult, I think it was kind of the most fun. We really spent a lot of time blocking it through. It is play at the end of the day, and if you watch the scene to see, Michelle really went for it. That was a blast, ironically, considering it was one of the hardest as well. But they're always rewarding, those scenes when you finish them. They're always the most rewarding, the most difficult ones.

The big confrontation between Henry and his mother Margaret got off to a quiet start, when Henry asked his mother if she truly is the one responsible for the killing of the two young York princes who had stood in the way of Henry's claim to the throne of England. When she finally confessed that she was the one who ordered their deaths (as seen in The White Queen), Henry revealed that the dowager queen Elizabeth and her daughter had placed a curse that would doom the children born in the killer's bloodline. Believing that Margaret's role in the murders had damned his children to die, Henry snapped and began to throttle his mom.

The White Princess team certainly did a thorough job of crafting the scene to look realistic. Jacob Collins-Levy truly looked like his was choking Michelle Fairley half to death, and it was actually frightening to see the brutality of the son on his mother. Sure, Margaret was a murderer who had pulled the strings on schemes that resulted in a lot of death, but seeing Henry overpower his mother so easily was definitely intense. Thankfully, Collins-Levy was able to confirm that the crew blocked the scene out well enough to allow both actors to give it their all, and they were able to have fun filming a scene that was anything but lighthearted to watch. Jacob Collins-Levy went on to tell me how he handled the aftermath of the throttling scene:

I told Michelle I'd buy her some cough drops, following.

While we can be absolutely sure that Jacob Collins-Levy wasn't squeezing Michelle Fairley with nearly as much force as Henry was squeezing Margaret in the White Princess finale, Michelle Fairley still looked like she more than earned some cough drops. Then again, Margaret isn't the first character she's played who has run into some serious throat-related plot twists. She may be a pro at faking throat trauma at this point. It's nice to know that the violence was all for show, however. Appreciating the intense performances from both actors is even easier now that we know they had fun shooting it. I know I wouldn't have guessed that they were enjoying themselves while watching the sequence.

The White Princess came to an end after just the one season, so we won't get to see any more of Jacob Collins-Levy and Michelle Fairley as Henry and Margaret. Fortunately, The White Princess is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, so fans have the option of rewatching the series as many times as they want. You can find the series on Blu-ray and DVD on Amazon and many other retailers. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in TV news, and don't forget to take a look at our fall TV premiere guide to plan your viewing lineup for the coming weeks.

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).