HBO and Sky have announced that Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren will play Catherine the Great for a four-part mini-series set to begin production later this year.
Given Mirren’s track record portraying powerful royal women, casting the British actress as history’s most influential female monarch was a no-brainer. Mirren previously won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing Elizabeth I in the eponymous 2006 mini-series. The year before, she took home basically every acting award on the planet for her nuanced portrayal of Elizabeth II in The Queen.
Mirren has earned a reputation for lending these women the gravitas and humanity they deserve, and her turn as Catherine the Great should be no different.
Executive producer David M. Thompson, who worked with Mirren on Woman in Gold, told The Hollywood Reporter that the iconic star approached him with the idea, explaining that Catherine the Great was, “a part she’s always wanted to play.”
The mini-series will explore Catherine’s relationship with her partner and lover Grigory Potemkin in the latter years of her monumental rule. Catherine was a notoriously passionate individual whose reign was characterized by aggressive modernization and periods of intense civil discord. Her courtly life needs little exaggeration to make for exquisite high drama.
Behind the camera, Mirren has surrounded herself with a group of people who know how to utilize her skill set. Nigel Williams, who wrote Elizabeth I, is writing the script for Catherine the Great, while Emmy-winning director Philip Martin (Prime Suspect) will helm the project.
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