First Look: Helen Mirren as Catherine the Great in HBO, Sky Miniseries

Set against the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of Russian empress Catherine the Great, who wielded supreme power throughout Russia for nearly half of the 18th century, the limited series follows Catherine towards the end of her reign during her passionate affair with Grigory Potemkin (Jason Clarke).
Hal Shinnie/HBO

The first look at Helen Mirren in HBO's historical limited series Catherine the Great debuted online Wednesday. The first-look image shows Mirren as Empress Catherine in her private quarters.

Set against the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of Russian empress Catherine the Great, who wielded supreme power throughout Russia for nearly half of the 18th century, the limited series follows Catherine towards the end of her reign during her passionate affair with Grigory Potemkin (Jason Clarke). Amid scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, they develop a unique and devoted relationship, overcoming their adversaries and together serving as the architects of modern-day Russia.

In addition to the first look, HBO has announced four new additions to the cast: Gina McKee as Countess Bruce, Catherine’s lifelong friend and confidante; Rory Kinnear as Minister Panin, a skillful politician, advisor and governor to Catherine’s son; Richard Roxburgh as Grigory Orlov, one of Catherine’s former lovers, who helped orchestrate the coup that brought Catherine to power; Kevin R. McNally as Alexei Orlov, who, with his brother Grigory, helped orchestrate the coup that brought Catherine to power; and Sam Palladio as Alexander Vasilchikov, Catherine’s young lover.

Previously announced cast include Mirren, Clarke and Joseph Quinn as Paul, Catherine’s son and heir.

In addition to starring in the four-episode miniseries, Mirren also serves as executive producer alongside ep and director Philip Martin (Prime Suspect). David M. Thompson (Woman in Gold, Death Comes to Pemberley) for Origin Pictures and Charlie Pattinson (Elizabeth I, The Missing, Skins) and Christine Healy for New Pictures are also executive producing. The series is written by Nigel Williams, who will reunite with Mirren and HBO after penning the script for the cabler's 2005 miniseries Elizabeth I.

Catherine the Great is produced by Origin Pictures and New Pictures and is an HBO/SKY co-production. A release date for the series has not yet been announced.