9:00am PT by Rick Porter
'The Romanoffs': All There Is to Know About Matthew Weiner's Amazon Drama
The Romanoffs is the first TV project from Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner since the latter show ended on AMC in 2015.
Per usual with Weiner, there are not a lot of details about how the series, which premieres Oct. 12 on Amazon, will play out. (The streamer's loglines for the eight episodes are terse, one-sentence descriptors that will look familiar to Mad Men diehards.) The Romanoffs is an anthology about people who believe they're descendants of or connected to the Russian royal family with a sprawling cast, a globe-spanning production schedule and a new — for Amazon, at least — release pattern.
Ahead of the show's premiere, here are all the details known so far.
The Romanov family ruled Russia for some 300 years, from the early 1600s to 1918, when Tsar Nicholas II and members of his family were executed during the Russian Revolution. In the years after, rumors persisted that Nicholas' daughter Anastasia had escaped and was living under another name — and a number of people claimed to be either Anastasia or one of her relatives.
The remains of the tsar and most of his immediate family were excavated in 1991 near Yekaterinburg, Russia. Anastasia's remains were not among them, but they were found at a site nearby in 2007 and were positively identified via DNA analysis.
The series will follow a group of people who all believe they're descendants of the family; the spelling of "Romanoff" vs. "Romanov" reflects the name's pronunciation and, Weiner says, the way it was commonly spelled until recently.
A Global Series
The Romanoffs used its $50 million budget to film in North America, Europe and Asia, collaborating with local production crews in each location. Per the brief episode descriptions, stories are set in New York, Mexico City and Paris. When the series launches worldwide, it will air in English; dubbed foreign-language versions will arrive in early 2019.
A Partial Mad Men Reunion
A number of key players from the Mad Men team are also working on The Romanoffs. In front of the camera, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Jay R. Ferguson and Cara Buono all have roles. Writers Semi Chellas (who also is an executive producer) and Andre and Maria Jacquemetton (consulting producers) are back as well, along with co-exec producer Blake McCormick. Costume designer Janie Bryant and a number of other Mad Men department heads are also teaming with Weiner again.
Everyone's In It (Almost Literally)
In addition to the aforementioned Mad Men alumni, the cast of The Romanoffs also includes (deep breath) Isabelle Huppert, Marthe Keller, Aaron Eckhart, Diane Lane, Amanda Peet, Jack Huston, Corey Stoll, Andrew Rannells, Mike Doyle, JJ Feild, Janet Montgomery, Paul Reiser, Noah Wyle, Kathryn Hahn, Nicole Ari Parker, Kerry Bishé, Ben Miles, Mary Kay Place, Griffin Dunne, Ron Livingston, Jon Tenney, Clea DuVall, Radha Mitchell, Hugh Skinner, Juan Pablo Castañeda, Emily Rudd, Adele Anderson, Annet Mahendru, Louise Bourgoin, Hera Hilmar, Ines Melab, Michael O'Neill and David Sutcliffe.
How They All Fit
It would be impossible to try to service all those characters in every episode of a continuing series — and in fact, that's not what Weiner and Co. are doing. The Romanoffs is an anthology in the old-school sense of the term: Each episode features a new set of characters and a single, self-contained story. (Black Mirror is probably the closest contemporary analog.)
"I loved the idea both as a viewer and as a writer of being able to tell a story that really commits," said Weiner. "I don't mean that we didn't do that on Mad Men or that you don’t do that on continuing series, but when the characters are not coming back the next week, you have a chance to tell it in a different way — to resolve it."
Old Is New
Unlike other Amazon series, The Romanoffs won't be released all at once — instead, in a rarity for the streamer, episodes will roll out weekly a la traditional TV. The first two episodes will be available Oct. 12, and after that a new installment debuts each Friday through Nov. 23.
Here's a description of each episode and its cast.
"The Violet Hour" (Oct. 12): Set in Paris, an ancestral home holds the key to a family's future. Starring Aaron Eckhart, Marthe Keller, Ines Melab and Louise Bourgoin.
"The Royal We" (Oct. 12): With their marriage in a rut, a couple finds their own temptations. Starring Corey Stoll, Kerry Bishé, Janet Montgomery and Noah Wyle.
"House of Special Purpose" (Oct. 19): A movie star and a director go head to head in a battle over what's real. Starring Christina Hendricks, Isabelle Huppert, Jack Huston, Mike Doyle and Paul Reiser.
"Expectation" (Oct. 26): Over a single day in New York City, a woman is confronted by every lie she ever told. Starring Amanda Peet, John Slattery, Emily Rudd, Jon Tenney, Mary Kay Place and Michael O'Neill.
"Bright and High Circle" (Nov. 2): A trusted friend under suspicion tests the loyalty of a tightly knit community. Starring Diane Lane, Ron Livingston, Andrew Rannells, Cara Buono and Nicole Ari Parker.
"Panorama" (Nov. 9): In Mexico City, an idealistic reporter falls in love with his mysterious subject. Starring Juan Pablo Castañeda, Radha Mitchell and Griffin Dunne.
"End of the Line" (Nov. 16): On a trip abroad to pursue their legacy, a couple faces destruction. Starring Kathryn Hahn, Jay R. Ferguson, Annet Mahendru and Clea DuVall.
"The One That Holds Everything" (Nov. 23): In a story that circles the globe, a man tries to escape a family curse. Starring Hugh Skinner, Adele Anderson, Hera Hilmar, Ben Miles and JJ Feild.
Watch the full trailer for The Romanoffs below.