Tom Cullen On The Complexity Of His Becoming Elizabeth Character - Exclusive

Raise your hand if you've ever found yourself rooting for the villain — you may be surprised by such an admission, but you're not alone. These days, both series and full length films provide so much nuance and depth to the characters we see develop on-screen that the storyline is the farthest thing from black and white — the grey area, the blurred lines of motivation, the tortured souls that didn't have any other option — these are the "bad guys" that we witness on-screen today.

Such complexity begs the question: How do the actors, who bring such convoluted characters to the screen, feel about the roles themselves? Where do they source inspiration from, and in what ways do they view their character after filming comes to a close? We had so many questions of this nature that we needed answering, so we turned to Tom Cullen, the actor who brings Thomas Seymour to life in the upcoming STARZ period drama, "Becoming Elizabeth." The masterfully written series — bringing Elizabeth Tudor to the screen before she became queen — tells the story of a young woman at the crux of her future, and Cullen's complex character brings a sordid, romantic interest to life. With such complexity, we had to ask him during an exclusive interview how he feels about Seymour today.

Tom Cullen's 'complex' character forced him to take a specific perspective on the role

When we think of some of the great forces of darkness in cinema, roles like The Joker come to mind — but when we ponder the complexity of a man who is trying (in his mind) to do the best he can in an untenable situation, that's when we get to the heart of how complicated life can be. Tom Cullen's Thomas Seymour is one such tortured soul who is striving to make the right call. While we can't give too much away, we did ask Cullen during our exclusive interview what his perspective of Seymour is, given the layered dynamic the character presents on-screen.

"It's nuanced, and it's complex. [Seymour and Elizabeth's] dynamic is that. I was very surprised and blown away by that part of the story," Cullen told us. Reflecting on the specific way he had to view his character, the actor further explained, "Personally, I had to have a very specific viewpoint on it, which was that Thomas, my character, is the hero of the story and that everything that he does is just and right and defendable. That was the only way I could play him without any kind of judgment."

Tom Cullen was determined to see his character's motivations

While Tom Cullen tried his best to not judge his "Becoming Elizabeth" character, Thomas Seymour, he admitted to us that he understood that audiences might not have the same perspective. After all, a man setting his romantic interests on a very young woman comes with its own layers of historical complexity, and Cullen reflected on Seymour's motivations and what he hopes viewers will see of him.

"I didn't want him to be a bad guy. I wanted him to be a human being. I wanted the audience to like him, and I wanted the audience to be seduced by him," Cullen told us, "so then, when the tables are turned, for the audience to be as conflicted and confused as Elizabeth is."

Speaking more to the complex relationship that envelops between the characters, Cullen told us that if anything, the onscreen dynamic is "confusing," and it might leave those tuning in feeling a bit conflicted.

"Let's not beat around the bush — I'm not defending him. He is a powerful man who is using Elizabeth, arguably," Cullen admitted. "But I also think that he did love her, so that's where the complexity comes in."

"Becoming Elizabeth" will debut on Sunday, June 12 at 9:00 pm ET/PT on STARZ.