After winning an Oscar for “The Queen,” Helen Mirren has another award in her sights — this time, as an empress. The first-look photo above captures the four-time Emmy winner in all her glory as the famous Russian ruler, Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, aka Catherine II, aka “Catherine the Great.”
HBO has partnered with Sky to produce the four-part limited series, which is currently shooting across Russia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Directed by Philip Martin (who helmed Mirren’s last Emmy-winning performance in “Prime Suspect: The Final Act”) and written by Nigel Williams (who wrote and produced “Elizabeth I,” which won Emmys for both he and Mirren), “Catherine the Great” also stars Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty”) as Grigory Potemkin and Joseph Quinn (“Howards End”) as Paul, Catherine’s son and heir.
New cast members have also been announced, including: Gina McKee as Countess Bruce, Catherine’s lifelong friend and confidante; Rory Kinnear as Minister Panin, a skillful politician, advisor and governor to Catherine’s son; Richard Roxburgh as Grigory Orlov, one of Catherine’s former lovers, who helped orchestrate the coup that brought Catherine to power; Kevin R. McNally as Alexei Orlov, who, with his brother Grigory, helped orchestrate the coup that brought Catherine to power; and Sam Palladio as Alexander Vasilichikov, Catherine’s young lover.
Focusing on the final years of her three-plus decades in power, “Catherine the Great” is produced by Origin Pictures and New Pictures and is an HBO/SKY co-production. Here’s the official synopsis, courtesy HBO:
Set against the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of Russian empress Catherine the Great, who wielded supreme power throughout Russia for nearly half of the 18th century, the limited series follows Catherine towards the end of her reign during her passionate affair with Grigory Potemkin. Amid scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, they develop a unique and devoted relationship, overcoming their adversaries and together serving as the architects of modern-day Russia.
No release date has been set.