Jodie-Turner Smith made some major strides by breaking barriers as a female navy SEAL in ‘Without Remorse’ and with her role as Anne Boleyn.
Following her breakthrough role in “Queen and Slim,” Jodie Turner-Smith turned to play a military officer opposite Michael B. Jordan in “Without Remorse. She is also playing a condemned queen in the upcoming series “Anne Boleyn.”
Based on one of the most famous characters in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan universe, Without Remorse centers on Navy SEAL John Kelly (Jordan). In the action film, Turner-Smith plays a brand new character. Turner embodies Lt. Commander Karen Greer, the niece of James Greer — Jack Ryan and John Kelly’s (better known as John Clark) frequent ally — and a decorated Navy SEAL and Clark’s former team member.
In many ways, the role already posed a lot of challenges for Jodie, specially being an action thriller. The actor was generally aware of Clancy’s book, TV and film universe, having watched the Jack Ryan properties. However, an added obstacle rose as the actor was in the second trimester of her pregnancy. The cast including Turner had to endure rigorous boot camp-style training to be in top fighting shape for the action-packed film.
“Training wasn’t straightforward because I was pregnant, so that definitely added a layer of complexity to it,” stated Turner-Smith, who welcomed a baby girl with her husband, actor Joshua Jackson, in April 2020. “But I went after it. I gave it all of myself.”
“We worked really closely with these guys on set who were there to teach us how to operate in combat, how to move with and around each other, how to talk to each other,” she detailed. “We’re emulating guys who have been working together, alongside each other for years, so there needed to be a sense of familiarity and comfort and ease to how they work together.”
Additionally, a pregnant Turner-Smith had to pull off the film’s underwater stunts without assistance gears. While her co-stars were able to learn how to use a diving apparatus called a rebreather — which recycles carbon dioxide to provide oxygen for the diver underwater — she simply had to hold her breath.
“I don’t know if you know this, but when you are pregnant, it’s very hard to hold your breath,” she explained. “So, I had unique challenges that my co-stars didn’t have.”
The groundbreaking role was shaped by screenwriter Taylor Sheridan. The role has an added significance as The U.S. Navy does not have any female SEAL for now.
“I love that the filmmakers wanted to create this character, to envision this woman,” Turner-Smith said, explaining why the role is trailblazing. “There’s not a female Navy SEAL right now, but there will be soon. I feel that is what we’re moving towards.”
After welcoming the opportunity to show audiences a Black woman occupying a space in which they are rarely seen, Turner moved to playing Boleyn, a similar yet another challenging feat.
“Right now is a time where people are finally saying there is room for all of us. And especially there is room for those of us who we have been excluded for so long.”
Jodie Turner-Smith will also grace the screen as Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn follows the story of the second of King Henry VIII’s six wives and her execution by beheading in 1536. The moment marked a major political and religious upheaval that initiated the start of the English Reformation.
“Anne Boleyn is such a fascinating woman and I was really excited to play her, to get to unpack some of the things that we’re imagining internally she was going through,” Turner-Smith said, giving away her excitement for the new show.
Despite her enthusiasm, Jodie Turner-Smith’s casting as Anne Boleyn wasn’t much appreciated. The actor endured backlash from critics incensed at the idea of a Black woman playing the royal.
“There are a lot of people that feel very passionately about not having a Black woman play a white queen,” she explained. “It’s one thing when you’re playing a fictional character, but it’s another thing when you’re playing somebody who existed in history, and that makes people feel uncomfortable and upset.”
“Anne Boleyn” wrapped its shooting in December 2020. While “Without Remorse” started streaming on Amazon Prime Video from April 30.