The role of a king is difficult to fill. Portraying royalty requires a certain gravitas, an aura of confidence and power that demands attention and respect. Over the years, many actors have filled the shoes of kings, both historical and fictional. Here are some of our favorites.
Henry VIII of England (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), "The Tudors"
Thanks in no small part to a catchy pop song, Henry VIII is one of England's most well-known monarchs. He reigned from 1509 until his death in 1547 and was responsible for the Church of England's separation from the Roman Catholic Church. In the Canadian series "The Tudors", Jonathan Rhys Meyers filled the king's royal shoes. Meyers had previously portrayed two kings: King Phillip II in "The Lion in Winter" and Elvis Presley, king of rock-n-roll, in the eponymous miniseries.
Silas Benjamin, King of Gilboa (Ian McShane), "Kings"
The short-lived series "Kings" was a modern interpretation of the Biblical story of King David. Silas Benjamin filled the role of King Saul in the story, a monarch that believes he was anointed king by divine right but has since been forsaken by God. Ian McShane is recognized mostly from his "Deadwood" character, Al Swearengen, but his successful career spans over five decades and includes an eight-year stint as the title character on the British series "Lovejoy".
Eddard Stark (Sean Bean), "Game of Thrones"
In a world driven by deceit, jealousy and hate, Eddard Stark was a beacon of hope. His sense of honor and justice were second only to his love of family, and for that he ended up paying the ultimate price. Sean Bean's performance helped propel the series to critical and popular acclaim. He is famous for his roles as a warrior, whether modern or ancient. Besides being cast as Boromir in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, he played the character of Richard Sharpe in so many made-for-television movies that the character was able to get promoted from lowly sergeant all the way to retired Lt. Colonel.
King Arthur Pendragon (Bradley James), "Merlin"
Arthur Pendragon, Lord of the Britons, may have been seen in film and television (and books, comic books, video games, theater productions and whatever else could fit his legend), but his stints on live-action TV have usually been short-lived. That is, until the high-fantasy "Merlin" series breathed new life into the story in 2008 and continues with no end in sight. Bradley James carries a lot of that weight on his shoulders. A dramatically trained actor, James had little acting experience before landing the Arthur gig, but is now known to fantasy fans around the world.
King Edward VII (Lockwood West), "Upstairs Downstairs"
Just because a character is a king doesn't mean he has to have the main role in a series. "Upstairs Downstairs" was a British series about the relationships between the upper and lower classes in England during WWI. During the second season of the series, King Edward VII comes to visit the townhouse in which the show takes place. Although he appeared in only one episode, "Guest of Honor", that episode has become one of the most popular of the series. Lockwood West, an accomplished stage actor that began performing in the 20s, appeared in television and film for over four decades and will always be loved for that single appearance in the award-winning British drama.