Catherine the Great
Helen Mirren in 'Catherine the Great'.
| Credit: Hal Shinnie/HBO

Catherine the Great

Helen Mirren has played a lot of queens.

The Oscar winner has many regal ladies to her name, including Queen Elizabeth II on stage and screen, Queen Elizabeth I, and now, on HBO’s four-part mini-series, Russian Empress Catherine the Great. She’s basically honorary royalty herself at this point. But that doesn’t mean we want her to stop donning crowns any time soon.

Jason Clarke, who co-stars opposite Mirren in Catherine the Great as her lover and military strategist Grigory Potemkin, has some ideas about what he’d like to see her tackle next. It’s an unusual choice — Livia, the Empress of Rome and wife of Emperor Augustus. Most notably, he’d like to see Mirren portray her as she’s represented in I, Claudius.

Catherine the GreatJason Clarke, Helen Robert Vigalsky/HBO
Credit: Robert Vigalsky/HBO

“I’d love to see her playing Livia in I, Claudius,” he tells EW. “If you haven’t seen the old BBC production of I, Claudius go and watch that. Livia was Emperor Augustus’ wife, and she was a fascinating character. One of the true great women in history. Well, I don’t know if great is the right word.”

Clarke says working with Mirren is a regal, over-the-top experience in itself, regardless of who she’s playing. The duo previously worked together on horror film Winchester, and he remembers her calling on her regal roles to channel a particularly outrageous scene. “We were playing around and we both had to be scared of something and something was chasing us,” Clarke recalls. “I said, ‘Oh Helen, that was great, you went really big,’ and she grabs me, and she goes, ‘I played Cleopatra three times, my dear, I’m not afraid of going big.'”

Spoken like a true queen.

Catherine the Great airs at 10 p.m. on Mondays on HBO.

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