Helen Mirren has the queen thing down. We’ve seen her as Elizabeth II, as the first Elizabeth, and as Queen Charlotte, wife of crazy George III. How fitting it is then that she is now playing royalty who comes with a suffix that perfectly expresses our view of Mirren herself: Catherine the Great.
I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power.
The four-part miniseries, a co-production of HBO and Sky, will take in the latter years of the monarch’s rule in 18th-century Russia, amid scandal (let’s hope a horse isn’t involved), intrigue, and immense conflict. Catherine is described in the show notes as “strong-minded, independent, brilliantly intelligent and sexually liberated—the definition of the modern woman.” Yes! Thank you, HBO, for recognizing that an older woman can be all these things (even two centuries ago). Catherine was over 45 for most of her reign and died at 67.
“I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power,” Mirren said when she took on the role. “She rewrote the rules of governance by a woman, and succeeded to the extent of having the word `Great’ attached to her name.”
At the center of the mini-series will be Catherine’s great love affair with a younger man, Grigory Potemkin, a Russian military commander played by Jason Clarke. “They develop a unique and devoted relationship, overcoming their adversaries and together serving as the architects of modern-day Russia,” the show’s producers state.
No air date has been announced, but we’re assuming sometime next year. What we do know is that the sets will be sumptuous; filming is taking place now across Russia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The costumes will be drool-worthy; just look at Mirren in full Catherine regalia in the sneak-peek photo above. The sex will be hot—this is HBO after all. And Mirren will live up to that suffix.