Sean Bean is Cromwell in Disney’s New T.V. Show Shardlake

I was very, very excited about Sean’S newest role in Disney’s SHARDLAKE. (Coming to your television screen this year). He will play the role of Thomas Cromwell. The famous English statesman and lawyer who served as Chief Minister to Henry the VIIIth from 1534 to 1540. The T.V. show is based on the SHARDLAKE series of historical novels by C.J. Samson. Set in the 16th century, Shardlake, the titular character, is a lawyer, (who works for Cromwell) and is investigating the murder of one of his commissioners at a monastery in the remote town of Scarnsea. As Shardlake’s boss, Cromwell’s political survival hangs on Shardlake quickly solving the case. The King wants the killer in chains and locked up ASAP and he will NOT be happy until this happens. Cromwell does NOT want to feel the King’s anger. That would be dangerous for him. So he is pushing Shardlake to finish his investigation at the greatest speed possible.

A Hulu Original, backed by Disney, I was hoping to see more of Sean in this role; but so far very little is being released to the public. Also there are almost NO reviews of SHARDLAKE. Which I find strange for Disney, even in their new partnership with Hulu, because they always want to build an audience before they release any of their projects to their fans. Which leaves me with a dilemma of how to write a blog post about SHARDLAKE with so little information about the television show? I could however speculate on how evil Cromwell is compared to other villains that Sean has created. I could do that; but I’m not sure about how much of a scoundrel Cromwell will be in this new adaptation. He does, however, give us a taste of Cromwell’s vicious, greedy nature in this, the first full trailer:

Unfortunately, I have not read any of the SHARDLAKE books; but from what I have read from history, Cromwell seems more like a victim when he’s trying to please the King than a villain. Henry the VIIIth was a very difficult person to please; and you always paid a high price for his unhappiness. Just ask any of his wives, or close friends. However, for the sake of this blog we will assume that Sean’s Cromwell is the Bad Guy in this story. So how Bad will Sean’s Cromwell be? Sean has always been a master at creating villains; and over the years he has played many negative characters. They come in different degrees of evil. You might say that over his long acting career Sean has put together a wide spectrum of Bad Guys. Some of them felt that they needed to do negative things because of their loyalties to their families or countries (like Boromir in the LORD OF THE RINGS) or Alex (in GOLDENEYE). Or maybe they’re just psychotic (like the HITCHER). However, at the top of my list of villains is the one and only Mr. Wilford (SNOWPIERCER). He’s a flamboyant genius, who is sexy, diabolical; and loves to manipulate people for his very sick power trips. He’s not psychotic, because they do what ever they want with no concerns about what other people think about them. Mr. Wilford is a true SOCIOPATH. He’s very polite, well dressed; and pretends to be like other people, but inside it’s all about manipulating and controlling the people around him, so he can torture them for his own twisted amusement, like a cat playing with a mouse. Also Mr. Wilford wants people to love and even worship him; and follow his orders at all times.

From the looks of the trailer, it startlingly appears that Cromwell could be very much the same type of a villain as Mr. WILFORD. And then there is the big question: How long will he stay alive in the Shardlake universe? Well, given that Thomas Cromwell lived through the years of the Dissolution, the Boleyn beheading and birth of Henry’s male heir, only to fall foul of Henry’s wrath after the Anne of Cleves disaster, perhaps we will get to see Sean evolve the Cromwell villain over the course of following seasons. If you want spoilers just read the book series and all your questions will be answered, or just watch SHARDLAKE and the seasons to come of the adaptation and find out! Streaming soon on Hulu and Disney+.

Susan A. Richardson (the dyslexic blogger)