in the magazine

How Is Eliot Spitzer Like Henry VIII? Ask Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Courtesy of Showtime; Getty Images

What separates Henry VIII, that over-sexed, obese king of England, from Eliot Spitzer, our over-sexed, whore-mongering, recently ousted governor? Who better to ask than Jonathan Rhys Meyers, whose second season playing King Henry on Showtime’s The Tudors debuts this week? Rhys Meyers already weighed in on Henry’s looks and the proper price for a high-priced hooker in this week’s New York, but the loquacious chap had more choice opinions than we had space to print. For one thing, he thinks that sexual politics haven’t changed much over the centuries. “Sex is still power,” he says. “Why do people want to become rich? Because they want other people to think they’re attractive and think they’re important. Why? Because then maybe they’ll want to have sex with them, which affirms that they’re attractive and important. And what does that sex bring? A sense of empowerment. Just replace the royal court with a corporate boardroom.”

And while he thinks that we Americans might have overreacted a tad, as we do with most everything involving naughty parts (“All I know is that Janet Jackson showing her nipple at the Super Bowl set censorship back 25 years”), he does see why Eliot had to go. “A married man in an office that demands a certain amount of role model should not be renting $4300 a night hookers anyway,” JRM said. “So if you got caught doing it and you got dumped as governor, well, that’s the risk that you took, buddy. You have to have responsibilities. See, Henry didn’t have any of these responsibilities. None! The only person that I could probably think that would wield close — and he would still be nowhere near, but slightly close — to how Henry’s power was is Kim Jong Il, the absolute ruler of North Korea.”

Really? Did JRM study the dictator to get a sense of absolute power? “No. Oh, come on. That’s a stupid question.” We thought there were no stupid questions, we protested. “Oh come on. There are totally stupid questions,” said JRM, “Totally stupid questions. No, I did not sort of base him on Kim Jong II. I’m just giving you a metaphor for absolutism. See, even your president of America has to answer to people. Henry answered to no one. Not even God.” Did he see a parallel between Henry and any presidential candidates? “No,” he scoffed. “There’s no comparison. We’re not trying to make a diatribe on modern politics. Politics have always been the same. It’s a dirty business. I don’t know why everybody is shocked all the time at how dirty politics are. Has nobody read Machiavelli’s The Prince?” —Jada Yuan

How Is Eliot Spitzer Like Henry VIII? Ask Jonathan Rhys Meyers