Helen Mirren will be playing royalty soon once again as the actress has joined HBO and Sky’s Catherine the Great miniseries as the titular 18th century Russian ruler.
Catherine the Great delves into the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of the most powerful female monarch in history. Catherine wielded supreme power throughout Russia for nearly half of the 18th century – strong-minded, independent, brilliantly intelligent and sexually liberated, she was the definition of the modern woman.
The four-part miniseries comes from writer Nigel Williams (Elizabeth I) and will be directed by Philip Martin (The Crown). It will be produced by David M. Thompson from Origin Pictures and Charlie Pattinson from New Pictures with Martin and Mirren producing as well. It is set to start filming later this year.
Catherine the Great will follow Catherine towards the end of her reign and her passionate affair with Grigory Potemkin. Amid scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, this is a story of obsessive love. Unable to publicly marry and famously promiscuous, they develop a unique and devoted relationship, overcoming their adversaries and together shaping Russia as we know it today.
“I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power,” Mirren said. “She rewrote the rules of governance by a woman, and succeeded to the extent of having the word Great attached to her name, Catherine the Great. I am very grateful to have HBO and Sky as partners in this endeavour. There are no other homes on television that bring the support and understanding needed for this kind of project.”
Cameron Roach, commissioning editor for Sky drama, said: “We’re incredibly excited to announce Catherine the Great and our further association with HBO, in what promises to be a definitive landmark drama. The team assembled on the project is truly world class and we look forward to Helen Mirren bringing this remarkable woman to life.”
“We are jubilant about having Helen Mirren back on HBO, playing the iconic Russian empress and joining this distinguished team of British filmmakers,” said Kary Antholis, president, HBO miniseries and Cinemax programming. “This collaboration will, no doubt, result in a truly regal mini-series.”
“Helen Mirren came to me with the idea for Catherine the Great when we were working with her on Woman in Gold, saying it’s a part she’s always wanted to play,” said Origin’s David M. Thompson. “I’m delighted we’re now making the series and indeed we can’t think of anyone better for the role. We’re thrilled with the scripts from Nigel Williams and the drama couldn’t have found a more perfect home than Sky/HBO. We’re really pleased to be collaborating with New Pictures on the show, and look forward to bringing it to fruition.”
“We are delighted to be working with Helen Mirren and Nigel Williams again after our previous collaboration on Elizabeth I,” said New Pictures’ Charlie Pattinson. “Nigel has already brought Catherine the Great and her extraordinary love story with Grigory Potemkin to life on the page and we couldn’t have better partners than Sky Atlantic and HBO and director Philip Martin. Catherine was one of the most powerful and extraordinary women in history. She deserves to be portrayed by an actress as fiercely intelligent and instinctive as Helen Mirren.”