Showtime Creative Director Tells All

Every season The Tudors has had stunning and shocking advertising and this year is certainly no exception.

Thy Kingdom Come

Here on PopTudors, it is my goal to give you some exclusive insider info from Showtime.

So, I pulled some strings (looked in the company directory), and traveled far and wide (took the elevator upstairs) to speak with Michael Hathaway, Creative Director for Showtime Print and Advertising, about the provocative poster for this season of The Tudors.

Hope you enjoy my Q/A with him!

Q: A lot of folks had interesting comments about this year’s poster. Were you surprised by this response or were you intentionally trying to get a reaction?

A: We intended to be provocative! We didn’t know what to expect, but we’re never afraid of a little controversy. Of course people tend to read meaning into things that are unintentional, but that’s all part of the fun of having edgy material out there.

Q: Words or pictures first?

A: The image concept came first then copy.

Q: Any copy lines you liked but didn’t use?

A: Originally, we were thing thinking we might use “King Takes All” as a follow up to last seasons “King Takes Queen”.

Q: What was the inspiration for the image?

A: We were inspired by the story lines of the new season. Not only does the show continue to be sexy, but Henry becomes much more dangerous this season – to his enemies and friends alike. Because he sets himself up as the head of the church, he now holds not only secular, but religious power over his people – in what some would say to be a tyrannical rule (when there’s a rebel uprising he has 10’s of thousands of men, women and children killed).

This image is about wielding that ultimate power, and how he uses his subjects to prop up his reign (quite literally) – either through sexual manipulation or fear of death. We also wanted to communicate that King Henry finds himself somewhat isolated this season, betraying those close to him or alienating them by coercing them to act against their conscience.

Ultimately our intention was to feature JRM in a way that strikes a balance between his sex appeal and his dangerous intensity.

We were also inspired by the photographer’s own work. Florian Schneider was the photographer for this poster. He has a classical, painterly style yet a modern sensibility, which is very much in line with the tone of The Tudors.

Q: Anything you can tell us about how this image was made?

A: We shot JRM on-set in Ireland in various poses in a chair with his feet propped up, knowing we would want him stepping on one of the bodies. Then we shot the models in NYC. We had the models pose in various positions & shapes, knowing that we would be compositing all the images into the shape of the throne.

Q: Your office is in midtown Manhattan and there’s a big Times Square billboard just a few blocks from here with a HUGE Tudors poster on it. There are posters in subway stations you even see buses go by with this image plastered on it, what’s it like to see your ideas materialized in such a massive way?

A: It’s very gratifying! We work on them for many months, so seeing these extensive campaigns all over the city is a really nice pay off! It’s such a blast to be able to create beautiful art (with the help of top photographers, retouchers, and our in-house team of art directors, writers, production people, the list is long…) & have it plastered all over the place. I do have to remind myself to slow down to appreciate it though, since we’re always working on the next thing.


When asked, Michael told me that he liked Dan Hopper’s idea and would be considering it for next year’s advertising.


  1. Noah
    Posted April 14, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Love learning about this, thanks for the behind the scenes peek!

  2. Dexter
    Posted April 14, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Sexy and provocative, love it. I also looked at the photographer’s website, AMAZING!!!

  3. Mariam
    Posted April 14, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    LOVE the background on the photo shoot, never would have figured that out lol.

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