Period pieces have been kind to Helen Mirren. She played Queen Charlotte in The Madness of King George, Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, and the titular Elizabeth I, on top of numerous works of Shakespeare and her new gothic tale, Winchester. Now she’ll add Catherine the Great to that list.
The Oscar winner will play the title role in HBO and Sky’s upcoming four-part miniseries, Catherine the Great, which will explore the politically and sexually charged court of this powerful Russian monarch.
Directed by Mirren’s Prime Suspect helmer, Philip Martin, and penned by Elizabeth I‘s Nigel Williams, the limited television event will follow Catherine towards the end of her reign in the 18th century as she struck a passionate relationship with Grigory Potemkin.
“I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power,” Mirren said in a statement. “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 news comes as another legend of the silver screen is making the jump back to television: Meryl Streep was announced this week for a role on HBO’s Big Little Lies season 2.
“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,” executive producer David M. Thompson said. “I’m delighted we’re now making the series and indeed we can’t think of anyone better for the role.”
Charlie Pattinson, Mirren, and Martin will also executive produce, while Jules Hussey produces.
Catherine the Great will air on HBO in the U.S. and Sky Atlantic in the U.K. and Europe.