Meet the cast of Sky and NOW TV’s Catherine the Great

Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren leads the cast as Russian Empress Catherine the Great, alongside Jason Clarke, Rory Kinnear and Gina McKee

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Helen Mirren plays Catherine the Great

Dame Helen Mirren returns to small screen to lead the all-star cast of Catherine the Great, Sky and HBO’s four-part miniseries about the eponymous Russian Empress, alongside Jason Clarke, Rory Kinnear and Bodyguard’s Gina McKee.

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Read on for everything you need to know about the cast of Catherine the Great…


Helen Mirren plays Catherine the Great

Helen Mirren plays Catherine the Great
Helen Mirren plays Catherine the Great

Who was Catherine the Great? Catherine II — better known as Catherine the Great — became Russian Empress following a coup to overthrow her husband in 1762, before reigning until her death in 1796.

Her reign saw the Golden Age of Russia, and as Russia’s longest-reigning female monarch Catherine oversaw the country’s expanse into new territories.

Where have I seen Helen Mirren before? The Oscar-winning actress is a legend of stage and screen, and Catherine the Great marks her first significant return to television in years.

The actress’s long credit list includes Elizabeth I, The Queen, The Madness of King George, Prime Suspect, Gosford Park and The Last Station.


Jason Clarke plays Grigory Potemkin

Jason Clarke plays Grigory Potemkin
Jason Clarke plays Grigory Potemkin

Who was Grigory Potemkin? Potemkin was a Russian nobleman and military ruler who first came to Catherine’s attention when he distinguished himself during the 1762 coup. He later became her court favourite, lover and possibly her consort.

On Catherine and Potemkin’s relationship, Jason Clarke said: “You realise just how big all these people were, in the sense of what they were doing — particularly her and him, the letters, just their feelings for each other.”

Where have I seen Jason Clarke before? Terminator Genisys actor Jason Clarke has previously appeared in Mudbound, The Aftermath, First Man, Chappaquiddick, and recently in Pet Semetary (as Louis Creed).


Gina McKee plays Countess Praskovya Bruce

Gina McKee plays Countess Praskovya Bruce
Gina McKee plays Countess Praskovya Bruce

Who was Countess Praskovya Bruce? A Russian noblewoman and confidant of Catherine the Great’s, Countess Bruce is perhaps best known for (according to rumours) sexually ‘testing’ Catherine’s potential lovers for her.

“Bruce did serve as court, and she was there from a very young age,” Gina McKee told RadioTimes.com about her character. “In fact she was the same age as [Catherine]… they were around about 15, 16, and you know, it’s extraordinary to be in that situation at that age, and she survived in court.”

On Bruce’s character, the actress added: “She clearly was very wily and very, very attuned to how to survive.”

Where have I seen Gina McKee before? You’ll probably recognise the BAFTA-winning actress from her roles as Anne Sampson in Bodyguard and Jackie Laverty in Line of Duty.

She’s also starred in Notting Hill, Phantom Thread, In the Loop, The Lost Prince, The Borgias, and The Forsyte Saga.


Rory Kinnear plays Ivanovich Panin

Rory Kinnear plays Ivanovich Panin
Rory Kinnear plays Ivanovich Panin

Who was Ivanovich Panin? Ivanovich Panin was a Russian nobleman and Catherine’s advisor for the first 18 years of her reign. He also had significant influence over Catherine’s son, Paul.

Where have I seen Rory Kinnear before? Kinnear recently starred in Russell T Davies’ series Years and Years and famously got familiar with a pig in Black Mirror’s ‘The National Anthem’. Beyond television, he’s also starred in various blockbuster films, including The Imitation Game and Skyfall.


Richard Roxburgh plays Grigory Orlov

Orlov
Richard Roxburgh plays Grigory Orlov

Who was Grigory Orlov? Catherine’s former favourite and practically co-ruler in the immediate aftermath of the 1762 coup, Orlov was eventually supplanted by Alexander Vasilichikov and Potemkin.

Where have I seen Richard Roxburgh before? The Australian actor played the Duke of Monroth in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!, and has since starred in films including Hacksaw Ridge and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.


Joseph Quinn plays Prince Paul

Catherine the Great
Joseph Quinn plays Prince Paul

Who was Prince Paul? Catherine’s legitimate son by Peter III, he spent much of his life waiting in the wings while his mother reigned as Empress.

Where have I seen Joseph Quinn before? Quinn has previously appeared as a Stark soldier in HBO’s Game of Thrones, but is perhaps best known for his roles as Arthur Havisham in Dickensian and as Leonard Bast, a young bank clerk, in the TV adaptation of Howards End.


Kevin R McNally plays Alexei Orlov

Catherine the Great
Kevin R McNally plays Alexei Orlov

Who was Alexei Orlov? The brother of Grigory, Catherine’s former favourite and lover, Alexei Orlov rose to prominence at court after helping to overthrow Peter III in favour of his wife.

Peter was kept under guard by Alexei’s men before his assassination under mysterious circumstances, and it was believed that it was Alexei himself who killed the former emperor.

Where have I seen Kevin R McNally before? The Pirates of the Caribbean actor has previously starred in Unforgotten and The ABC Murders, and recently played Captain Mainwaring in the Dad’s Army: The Lost Episodes.


Paul Kaye plays Pugachev

Paul Kaye plays Pugachev
Paul Kaye plays Pugachev

Who was Pugachev? Yemelyan Ivanovich Pugachev was an ex-lieutenant of the Imperial Russian Army who claimed to be Peter III, leading a rebellion against Catherine the Great before his eventual capture and execution.

Where have I seen Paul Kaye before? You’ll probably remember Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr in Game of Thrones, but he’s also starred in Mongrels, After Life, Cold Feet and Vera. He originally rose to fame playing comedic alter-ego Dennis Pennis.


Sam Palladio plays Alexander Vasilichikov

Sam Palladio plays Alexander Vasilichikov
Sam Palladio plays Alexander Vasilichikov

Who was Alexander Vasilichikov? Catherine’s young lover from 1772 to 1774, after Grigory Orlov’s infidelities were made known to the Empress. He was later supplanted by Potemkin.

Where have I seen Sam Palladio before? Palladio is best known for his role as Gunnar Scott in Nashville, and has previously starred in shows including Humans and Episodes.


The entire four-part series of Catherine the Great will be available via Sky Atlantic and NOW TV on Thursday 3rd October 2019, with a linear broadcast taking place from 9pm.

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