Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson to Star in 'King Lear' for Amazon and BBC

Richard Eyre will direct the Shakespeare adaptation, which also stars Jim Broadbent and Emily Watson.
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Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson are tackling Shakespeare.

The two are set to headline a new film adaptation of King Lear for Amazon and the BBC.

Set in the fictional present, King Lear sees Hopkins as the eponymous ruler, presiding over a totalitarian military dictatorship in England. Emma Thompson stars as his oldest daughter Goneril. The ensemble also includes Emily Watson, who stars as his middle daughter, Regan, and Florence Pugh (Lacy Macbeth), who plays his youngest daughter Cordelia.

Oscar winner Jim Broadbent is set as the Earl of Gloucester, Andrew Scott (Sherlock) has been cast as his loyal son Edgar, while John Macmillan (Hanna) will portray his illegitimate son Edmund.

Tobias Menzies, who recently exited Outlander after three seasons, will fill the role of the Duke of Cornwall. Christopher Eccleston, best known for his work on HBO's The Leftovers, will play Oswald, with Downton Abbey grad Jim Carter set as Earl of Kent. Anthony Calf (Riviera) and Karl Johnson (Rome) round out the ensemble as the Duke of Albany and Lear’s loyal jester the Fool, respectively.

Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal) will direct the movie, which begins principal photography this month. Noelette Buckley (Wolf Hall) will produce, with Playground's Colin Callender and Scott Huff, Sonia Friedman, and the BBC's Lucy Richer all attached as executive producers. Playground and Sonia Friedman Productions will produce the project in association with Lemaise Pictures Limited for BBC Two. The drama is a co-production with Amazon Studios, with Amazon Prime Video holding rights to the project in the U.S., Germany and the second run in the U.K. Great Point Media will handle international rights from MIPCOM.  

“It is a tribute to the great Richard Eyre that we have brought together such a remarkable cast. The film is a testament to the BBC’s ongoing commitment to the single drama, and we are very appreciative of their continued support,” Callender and Friedman said. “We are particularly excited to be working with Amazon and their support for the film reflects their emergence as a leading global brand of top-quality drama.”

King Lear will premiere on the BBC Two in 2018.

“Richard Eyre has assembled an unmissable cast to embody his vision for a timeless but deeply resonant screen adaptation of King Lear," BBC Drama controller Piers Wenger said. "We are all looking forward to seeing this landmark production come to life on BBC Two.”

The project marks the latest collaboration between the BBC and Amazon. Amazon Prime Video is the U.S. home for the dark comedy Fleabag, which airs on BBC Three. The two are next set to team on a limited series adaptation of Good Omens starring Michael Sheen, David Tennant and Jon Hamm.

“Playground has an incredible track record of producing award-worthy series and films, and we are delighted to work with them and SFP on bringing such a star-studded, exciting adaptation to Prime members,” said Amazon Prime Video vp worldwide TV content acquisition Brad Beale.

King Lear will mark Hopkins and Thompson's third time working together, following Howard's End and Remains of the Day. Hopkins most recently made his first foray into TV with the first season of HBO's Westworld, for which he received an Emmy nomination for best actor in a drama.