Mirren’s Russian Return

(Photo by Caroline Bonarde via Flickr)

Dame Helen Mirren, no stranger to portraying royalty, has won an Oscar for playing Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen and an Emmy for the lead role in Elizabeth I. But the legendary British actress has Russian roots, so why not take on The Savvy Screener favorite Catherine the Great?

The UK’s Daily Mail reports that Mirren (born Ilyena Lydia Mironoff) has teamed with director Philip Martin to play the Russian Empress in an upcoming HBO four-parter. It won’t be the first time she’s played a Russian role.

Mirren portrayed author Leo Tolstoy’s wife in The Last Station, an experience recounted here:

In the cold war thriller The Debt, Mirren didn’t play a Russian, but spoke the language: 

Martin, meanwhile, not only directed Prime Suspect: The Final Act, another Mirren Emmy-winner, but also several episodes of Netflix’s The Crown in which Claire Foy plays a younger version of Elizabeth II.

The Debt can be streamed by Starz subscribers. You can also rent The DebtThe Last Station and The Queen from $2.99 each at Vudu or Micosoft.com.

Elizabeth I can be streamed on Amazon Prime, whose subscribers can also view the 10-part Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great, a subtitled Russian-language epic about the German-born princess who ends up revitalizing Russia in the 18th Century.

Besides Mirren, other famed actresses who have played Catherine the Great over the years include Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Gertrude Lawrence, Jeanne Moreau and Catherine Deneuve. Here, in their entirety, are renditions by Tallulah Bankhead (an Ernst Lubitsch comedy directed by Otto Preminger) and Catherine Zeta-Jones:


About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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