British actress Helen Mirren is playing the main role on the new HBO mini series Catherine the Great.

Oscar winner Helen Mirren is about to put on a crown – that of Russian queen Catherine the Great (real name Sophie Fredericke Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst) – in a four part series that HBO is working on in collaboration with Sky.

The production will be handled by Origin Pictures and New Pictures and directed by Emmy-Award and BAFTA Award winner Philip Martin, known for his work on The Crown and Prime Suspect.

The screenwriter is Nigel Williams, also responsibl with the screenplay for another mini-series in which Mirren stared, Elizabeth I.

It was actually Mirren that came-up with the idea of the series, when she was playing Woman in Gold, produced by Origin.

“I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power”, the 72-year-old actress reveals. She continues: “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.”

Catherine the Great, portrait painted by Russian artist Rokotov


Helen Mirren has won an Oscar for the main role on The Queen, in 2006.

HBO’s Kary Antholis said the network is “jubilant about having Helen Mirren back on HBO, playing the iconic Russian empress and joining this distinguished team of British filmmakers”.

Cameron Roach, commissioning editor for Sky drama also expressed excitement about the project, calling it “a definitive landmark drama”.

The drama will begin filming later this year and will air, according to an HBO statement:

  • on HBO in the United States on Sky Atlantic,
  • NOW TV in the UK and Ireland ­
  • on Sky Atlantic in Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain ­
  • through Bell Media in Canada