Adelaide Kane Talks ‘Reign’, Stilettos, and Playing a Queen

Adelaide Kane Reign Interview

Tony Regbo, Adelaide Kane, and Torrance Coombs in 'Reign' (Photo © 2013 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved)

By Fred Topel

The CW is set to deliver an ambitious period drama with the premiere of Reign this October. Set in the 16th century and focusing on Mary, Queen of Scots, the series is based on true events and begins with Mary’s journey to France to marry the Prince and solidify an alliance.

At the 2013 summer Television Critics Association press event, executive producer Laurie McCarthy was asked just how much the television series is bound by history and whether the show will be able to ignore some facts in order to deliver a compelling story. “You know, the real facts of Mary, Queen of Scots’ life are so extraordinary and so dramatic and we’re coming in on the story of her life at an early stage and so she has just returned to French court and she has a ways to go before the wedding actually takes place,” replied McCarthy. “They’ll have a ways to go as a married couple. And then, eventually, what we learn as a prophecy of young Francis’ death will we won’t shy away from that. We’ll actually embrace it at a certain point in the series.”

“It’s also TV, so it’s kind of like we can take creative license,” added Adelaide Kane who plays Mary, Queen of Scots. “It’s entertainment. It’s not The History Channel. We’re trying to make a show that people will enjoy watching and will really connect with and will find really fun. And, of course, we’re going to dramatize events and throw little curveballs in our characters’ ways and things like that, but that’s what makes it fun.”

Kane went on to discuss the era, costumes, and playing a Queen in our interview from the summer TCA event.

Adelaide Kane Reign Interview

Would you like to have lived at this time, and if not, what era appeals to you?

Adelaide Kane: “You know what? I would not like to have lived in this time. I like my civil liberties a little bit too much to want to live in the 1500s. I think that we live in extremely exciting times now. I wouldn’t want to live in any other time period. I very much enjoy being able to earn my own money and buy my own clothes and support myself and be independent and have an education. It has been very difficult for women throughout the ages and we’re not quite as close to true gender equality as I would like, but it’s a vast improvement on anything else, so I wouldn’t want to live in any other time.”

Do you like the costumes?

Adelaide Kane: “The costumes are amazing. Meredith, our wardrobe head, is quite an exceptional woman and she’s got some amazing stuff lined up for us this season. We have some McQueen, we have some Brian Atwood, we have Sergio Rossi. I’m wearing stilettos every day. It’s fantastic. My only gripe is  stilettos after 14 hours can be quite painful!”

Did they have stilettos back then?

Adelaide Kane: [Laughing] “I mean, come on, of course not! We’re taking creative license and the show, I think, will be quite a beacon of hope to show high fashion. I’m really excited for it.”

Speaking of fashion, what’s it been like putting all these costumes on?

Adelaide Kane: “It’s been fantastic. I’m really excited. I would never have the opportunity to wear the kind of gowns that I get to wear or even the shoes. I can’t afford that! It’s been really, really quite fantastic, and it’s opened my eyes a little bit to the fashion world. I’ve always been interested in fashion but it’s never been a passion of mine until I started on this show. We have some really interesting, fun stylistic elements coming in, like some makeup and hair. We have some amazing little pieces and headbands that twist in the hair and braiding, and hopefully that’ll catch on fashion-wise.”

When you dress as yourself, do you feel yourself being inspired by Mary at all when you pick out your clothes in the morning?

Adelaide: “I’ve certainly been branching out, fashion-wise. I’ve certainly been influenced by her wardrobe. I’m wearing more dresses, as you see. Usually I’m a jeans and T-shirts kind of girl. I’ve been wearing heels more often. I’ve been taking far more care of my appearance. I’ve been even holding myself a little differently and being more aware of myself as a woman and being less slumpy and slouchy and not thinking about it. I’m taking more care with my hair and my makeup and I think that’s a good thing. I feel far more feminine now in playing her than I did before.”

This is an interesting area to explore in terms of gender and expectations during that time period.

Adelaide Kane: “It is. The gender politics are really interesting, and I hope we delve more into that as the series goes on. It allows for a lot of interesting debate, I think.

Having a female monarch, having a female as a primary ruler was unusual and actually caused a lot of civil unrest in both England and Scotland because the patriarchal society they had back then didn’t believe that women were intellectually capable of ruling a country or even managing their own lives, having jobs, managing their own money. Women really were property, as much as say a particularly intelligent dog was a piece of property, and you clap when it does tricks. But it was just ridiculous which makes me furious, but it’s very interesting that those women, those queens, those powerful women weren’t queens based on merit, they were born into it. If they’d had an older brother or if they had been married… In Elizabeth’s case in particular she was a power monger and didn’t want to share her power, which is why she never married. It’s purely by chance they had the power they had. And even then, even being supreme monarch ordained by God et cetera et cetera, they were still so crippled by their sex and by their gender. It’s incredible that they could even accomplish what they accomplished with their male-dominated governments beating them into the ground. I don’t know how they got anything done. They were remarkable women.”

How tall are you?

Adelaide Kane: “I’m 5 foot 4. I am very short! The stilettos help.”

How tall was Mary?

Adelaide Kane: “Mary was 5’11. She was an extremely statuesque woman. She was very tall.”

Was that very rare for the time?

Adelaide Kane: “Extremely rare. In those days, you didn’t know about nutrition and because they were eating seasonally, they didn’t have out-of-season produce. They didn’t have that kind of nutrition available. As a result, people in that time were actually much shorter than modern-day people because their bones didn’t grow quite as large as ours did. They didn’t have appropriate amounts of calcium. They didn’t have the iron. They didn’t have the zinc required for strong, healthy bones, and they didn’t live very long either.

You would die of disease or in childbirth by the time you were 40. That’s why they married so young. The lifespan was much shorter and they had to live out the fullness of their lives in maybe 40 years, and 50 was a ripe old age at that time. That’s very, very unusual for her to be so tall. I would be tall in those times!”

Do you think it influenced her rise to power and her ability to govern?

Adelaide Kane: “I think it certainly helped. I know when I put on heels and I’m a good 5 inches taller, I certainly feel more empowered. I feel more powerful. Being taller certainly helps in your carriage and your confidence, absolutely.”

Do you think the idea of “regal” comes from being tall?

Adelaide Kane: “Well yes, actually interestingly enough royalty and nobility did tend to be a little taller because they had better nutrition because they could afford better food.”

How do you like working in Toronto?

Adelaide Kane: “Toronto is wonderful. I really like walking everywhere because I’m really lazy. I don’t like going to the gym, so if I’m walking around I’ll just be like, ‘Okay, instead of catching the bus, I’ll walk the extra mile and then I don’t have to go to the gym.’ I’m really enjoying Toronto. We’re all downtown. We’re all in the heart of it, lots of great cafés and shops. It’s wonderful.”

Where are the castles in Toronto?

Adelaide Kane: [Laughing] “There are no castles in Toronto. The castle is in the studio.”

You had a big hit this summer with The Purge. Could you believe how big that was?

Adelaide Kane: “No, that really took me by surprise. I always had a lot of faith in that movie and it was such fun to shoot, and I was remarkably lucky that they cast me in that. But it did take me by surprise. Everybody really reacted very strongly to it and it was good fun! It was a good film. I was really happy with how it turned out.”

Can you do a sequel?

Adelaide Kane: “I can’t, scheduling-wise. I heard a rumor that there’s a sequel in the works but I’m unavailable so I think they’re going to recast.”

I’m sorry, but I didn’t keep up with Teen Wolf. Are you still alive?

Adelaide Kane: “I am still alive at the moment, yes. I’m certainly alive on Teen Wolf right now.”

Has it been discussed whether or not you could do both shows?

Adelaide Kane: “I did want to maybe do a couple of episodes to wrap up my character on the show. Unfortunately, scheduling won’t allow for it, which is a shame, but I have absolute faith that Jeff will wrap up my character with his usual grace and aplomb and manic amazing writing.”

Do they shoot at the same time?

Adelaide Kane: “They do unfortunately, yes.”

* * * *

Reign premieres on The CW on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 9pm.

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Fred Topel

Fred Topel has been an entertainment journalist since 1999, covering film and television for major websites. He's a member of the Television Critics Association and has interviewed thousands of actors, directors, writers, producers, and musicians over the course of his career.

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