By Tyler Aquilina
May 14, 2021 at 02:38 PM EDT
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Gillian Anderson is hopping through history, from 1980s Britain to 1700s Russia. The X-Files and The Crown star is joining season 2 of Hulu's "anti-historical" comedy The Great, loosely based on the life of Russian empress Catherine the Great (played on the show by Elle Fanning).

Anderson will appear in two episodes as Catherine's mother Joanna, a glamorous socialite from Germany. Joanna, who's known as the "maestro of marriage" for her skill arranging high-profile matches for her daughters, arrives in Russia to see Catherine's coup for herself. However, it soon becomes clear that this doting mother has more sinister intentions to save her family's reputation. (As usual, The Great is playing fast and loose with history here; the real-life Joanna was banished from Russia in 1745, before the coup that brought Catherine to power, and never saw her daughter again.)

Anderson has made something of a habit of playing historical figures lately. After her acclaimed turn as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown's fourth season, she was cast as Eleanor Roosevelt in the upcoming Showtime series The First Lady. (Cast her in a Maria Theresa biopic, you cowards!)

The Great also stars Nicholas Hoult as Catherine's husband, Emperor Peter III, whose misogynistic antics drive Catherine to claim the throne for herself. Phoebe Fox, Adam Godley, Gwilym Lee, Charity Wakefield, Douglas Hodge, Sacha Dhawan, Bayo Gbadamosi, and Belinda Bromilow are also among the cast. A release date for season 2, which will consist of 10 episodes, has yet to be announced.

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