US streaming service Hulu has commissioned The Great, a series created and scripted by Tony McNamara, which stars Elle Fanning as the 18th Century Russian Empress.
McNamara and Marian Macgowan, who produced his 2002 movie The Rage in Placid Lake, will be among the executive producers on the 10-part series produced by MRC. Paramount has the rights in the rest of the world.
Last year Hulu ordered the pilot which was directed by Matt Shakman (Game Of Thrones) and filmed in Yorkshire. The plot was described as a genre-bending, anti-historical ride through Russia as Catherine rises from Catherine the Nothing to Catherine the Great.
Gwilym Lee (Bohemian Rhapsody, Top End Wedding) will reprise his role as Grigory Orlov, the best friend and confidant of Russian emperor Peter (Nicholas Hoult). The cast includes Phoebe Fox, Adam Godley, Charity Wakefield, Douglas Hodge and Sacha Dhawan.
On Sunday McNamara and Deborah Davis, his co-writer on The Favourite, won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ Award for best original screenplay. Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton won the production design award for the same film. All four have been nominated for Academy Awards.
That is the second project on the same subject following the HBO/Sky miniseries Catherine the Great, which stars Helen Mirren in the title role and Richard Roxburgh as Orlov.
The Hulu series was inspired by McNamara’s play The Great, which was staged by the Sydney Theatre Co. in 2008, commissioned by Robyn Nevin, and starred Elizabeth Alexander, Nicholas Bell, Alan Dukes, Ben Geurens, Robin McLeavy, Mandy McElhinney, Matthew Moore and Toby Schmitz.
It was among a raft of shows unveiled by Hulu senior VP of Originals, Craig Erwich, which include Catch-22, George Clooney’s first-ever series as a director/executive producer for a streaming service, co-written by Luke Davies and David Michôd; feature doc Ask Dr. Ruth, which bowed at Sundance; and A + E Studios’ Reprisal, a revenge tale which follows a femme fatale (Abigail Spencer) who, after being left for dead, leads a vengeful campaign against a bombastic gang of gear heads.
At the end of last year Hulu, which is home to The Handmaid’s Tale, had more than 25 million subscribers in the US, a 48 per cent increase over 2017.