The Queen will play yet another queen next year. Oscar winner Helen Mirren will return to television in 2019, playing the title character in the forthcoming four-part miniseries Catherine the Great from HBO and Europe’s Sky. The veteran actress is no stranger to playing royal characters. Mirren won her Oscar for the 2006 film The Queen, playing Queen Elizabeth II. She played Queen Elizabeth I in the HBO miniseries Elizabeth I opposite Jeremy Irons, Queen Charlotte in the 1994 film The Madness of King George and voiced The Queen in the 1998 animated film The Prince of Egypt. Catherine the Great’s portrayal could not be in more capable hands.
reports that the miniseries will “explore the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of the most powerful female monarch in history.” The series will start closer to the end of Catherine’s reign and follow her passionate love affair with a yet-uncast Grigory Potemkin. The miniseries is being promoted as a story of obsessive love in a time when they were unable to marry but, through a promiscuous relationship, helped shape Russia into the powerhouse it is today. It’s a story about overcoming adversity and the importance of friendship.
History tells us Catherine the Great was Russia’s longest-ruling female monarch. Catherine brought much reform to the state and modernized the country. Because of her, Russia became stronger and was recognized as a great European power in the 18th century.
Catherine the Great will be written by Nigel Williams, who also wrote the previous HBO miniseries Elizabeth I, thus reuniting Mirren and Williams. Philip Martin will direct and will also reunite with Mirren, as he directed her in an episode of the Prime Suspect series. Mirren will also executive produce the show alongside Woman in Gold executive producer David M. Thompson and Elizabeth I executive producer Charlie Pattinson.
Mirren said upon the announcement of the series, “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.” The actress continued her thanks by addressing the distributors, saying, “I am very grateful to have HBO and Sky as partners in this endeavor. There are no other homes on television that bring the support and understanding needed for this kind of project.”
HBO miniseries president Kary Antholis said, “”We are jubilant about having Helen Mirren back on HBO, playing the iconic Russian empress and joining this distinguished team of British filmmakers. This collaboration will, no doubt, result in a truly regal miniseries.”
Executive producer David M. Thompson said, “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.” He continued, “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.”
This move comes at a perfect time, as Big Little Lies season two moves into the drama series category for the 2019 Emmys, leaving Catherine the Great to take the miniseries category.