Rutger Hauer, 'American Horror Story,' 'Ripper Street' Stars Board BBC's 'Last Kingdom'

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Rutger Hauer

Based on a book series that has drawn comparisons to 'Game of Thrones,' the show comes from 'Downton Abbey' producer Carnival

BBC America, BBC and Carnival Films, the NBCUniversal-owned production house behind Downton Abbey, have unveiled the lineup for The Last Kingdom, their upcoming Viking TV drama.

Based on Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling series of novels, The Saxon Stories, the TV show has now started filming, with production in Hungary and the U.K.

Rutger Hauer joins a cast headed by American Horror Story star Alexander Dreymon and also featuring Ripper Street’s David Dawson. Other castmembers include Emily Cox (Circle of Life), Matthew Macfadyen (Anna Karenina), Ian Hart (Boardwalk Empire, The Bridge), Tobias Santelmann (Kon-Tiki), Thomas W. Gabrielsson (A Royal Affair), Peter Gantzler, Joseph Millson (Penny Dreadful, 24:Live Another Day), Alexandre Willaume, Rune Temte and Henning Valin Jakobsen (The Bridge, The Killing).

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Set in the 9th century, when much of what is now called England is under the rule of the Vikings, The Last Kingdom focuses on the Kingdom of Wessex, the only remaining outpost holding out against the foreign invaders. Dawson will play King Alfred the Great, while Dreymon plays the main protagonist Uhtred, the son of a Saxon nobleman who is orphaned by the Vikings and brought up as one of their own and forced to choose his path.

BAFTA-nominated writer Stephen Butchard has adapted the books, which have drawn comparisons with Game of Thrones, into eight 60-minute episodes.

"In the hands of Stephen Butchard we believe it will make original and engrossing television drama," said Carnival’s Gareth Neame in a statement on Monday.

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Neame will serve as executive producer alongside Butchard and Nigel Marchant, with Nick Murphy co-executive producing and directing multiple episodes. Chrissy Skinns (Marchlands, Mr. Selfridge) will produce.

"In part the epic quest of our hero Uhtred, it is also a fascinating re-telling of the tale of King Alfred the Great and how he united the many separate kingdoms on this island into what would become England," added Neame. "Our cast has been drawn together from eight different European countries, providing us with the unique opportunity to create a truly international show, tap into a rich seam of talent and bring them to a new global audience."