Another Hollywood great will be gracing the small screen. Dame Helen Mirren (“Woman in Gold”), who’s previously portrayed both Queen Elizabeth I and II, is set to play Catherine the Great, one of the most powerful and respected European monarchs, in a new miniseries for HBO and Sky Atlantic. The four-part miniseries, appropriately titled “Catherine the Great,” will explore Catherine’s life near the end of her reign and her passionate love affair with Grigory Potemkin in a story about obsessive, all-consuming love. According to THR, the role of Catherine the Great’s lover has not yet been cast.
The project, set to begin production this year, is a comfortable collaboration of writers, producers, and directors who’ve previously worked with Mirren. “Catherine the Great” will be written by Nigel Williams, who previously wrote the script for HBO’s “Elizabeth I.” Philip Martin, who directed Mirren in “Prime Suspect,” is slated to direct. David M. Thompson (“Woman in Gold”) for Origin Pictures, Charlie Pattinson (“Elizabeth I”) for New Pictures, Mirren and Martin will executive produce. Jules Hussey (“Hooten and the Lady”) will produce. HBO and Sky Atlantic have partnered up to co-produce the miniseries in the third collaboration since their $250 million co-production deal; HBO will have the North American rights to the miniseries, and will air it in Canada via their deal with Bell Media. Sky Atlantic will air it on their channel and their streaming channel Now TV in the U.K., Germany, Austria and Spain.
Mirren was the first to suggest the upcoming miniseries, according to Thompson; the actor told him it was a part she’d always wanted to play while they were working together on “Woman in Gold.” Mirren said of the project:
I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power. 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.
The upcoming miniseries is a potential awards contender for HBO in the limited series category, as HBO’s “Big Little Lies” moves to the drama category for Season 2. The network has been drawing some major movie stars to its ranks with its success on “Big Little Lies,” also announcing on Wednesday that Meryl Streep (“The Post”) will be joining “Big Little Lies'” Season 2 alongside producers/stars Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”) and Nicole Kidman (“The Beguiled”). At this rate, it’s not a question of which film stars will make their way to TV, but when and which of your favorite shows they’ll be popping up on.