The November issue of Harper’s Bazaar (US) has a great interview with Helen Mirren as well as a new – very fitting – photoshoot picture for “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”. She talks about this, the recent filming of “Catherine the Great” in Russia, and the recently wrappred “The Good Liar”. Here’s an excerpt from her interview, scans can be found in the photo gallery.
Obviously I play her at the height of her power,” Mirren goes on, “but she was very straightforward, a very clever and ambitious person. And of course Russia at that time was amazingly complex, violent, and difficult country to govern. But she felt she could handle it”. She is also intrigued by Catherine’s sexuality. “In our slightly puritanical, Prostestant world, it’s shocking the way she behaved. It was extraordinary for that era. She had four children by four different men”.
The first-look photo above captures Helen Mirren in all her glory as the famous Russian ruler, Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, aka Catherine II, aka “Catherine the Great.” You can view the picture in full resolution in the photo gallery. 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. No release date has been set. 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.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO has cast Jason Clarke to star opposite Helen Mirren in its upcoming miniseries Catherine the Great. The four-part limited series will follow Russian empress Catherine (Mirren) toward the end of her 36-year reign in the late 18th century and the intrigue and conflicts that surrounded her. Clarke will play Grigory Potemkin, a Russian military commander who has a love affair with Catherine and becomes both her “favored statesman and life-long friend.” Clarke and Mirren recently co-starred in the film Winchester. The Chappaquiddick actor earned a SAG Award nomination in 2018 as part of the ensemble for Mudbound. His other credits include Zero Dark Thirty and The Chicago Code. Upcoming projects include First Man and Aftermath. Catherine the Great is a co-production between HBO and British broadcaster Sky. Nigel Williams (HBO’s Elizabeth I) is writing the miniseries, and Philip Martin (The Crown) will direct. Mirren, Martin David M. Thompson of Origin Pictures and Charlie Pattinson of New Pictures are executive producers.
Today, Helen Mirren has been announced to play the lead in HBO and Sky’s upcoming Catherine the Great miniseries. The four-part drama will explore the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of the most powerful female monarch in history, as Catherine ruled over Russia for almost 50 years during the 18th century. Specifically, the miniseries will focus on the end of her reign and her affair with Grigory Potemkin. Set to begin filming later this year, Catherine the Great hails from Nigel Williams (Elizabeth I) and is directed by Philip Martin (The Crown).
“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.”
Catherine the Great marks the third Sky and HBO project to be greenlit worldwide following the massive $250 million multi-year co-production investment deal announced last year. “We are jubilant about having Helen Mirren back on HBO, playing the iconic Russian empress and joining this distinguished team of British filmmakers,” Kary Antholis, president of HBO miniseries said. “This collaboration will, no doubt, result in a truly regal mini-series.” The miniseries will air on HBO in the U.S. and Sky Atlantic in the U.K and Europe, similar to how The Young Pope was broadcast. “We’re incredibly excited to announce Catherine the Great and our further association with HBO, in what promises to be a definitive landmark drama,” Cameron Roach, commissioning editor for Sky drama, said. “The team assembled on the project is truly world class, and we look forward to Helen Mirren bringing this remarkable woman to life.”