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    TV Critic’s Corner

    Great expectations with Helen Mirren in the role of Catherine

    “I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power,” Helen Mirren said of portraying Catherine the Great.
    Ben King/CBS Films via AP
    “I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power,” Helen Mirren said of portraying Catherine the Great.

    She may just be the mother of monarchs. Helen Mirren has played more than her share of sovereigns over the course of her career, including Queen Charlotte, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Elizabeth II (twice), and at least two animated queens. And there’s no denying it, she can be quite commanding if need be.

    It’s time to add a Russian empress to the list, don’t you think? Mirren has signed up to play Catherine the Great in a four-part drama for Sky in the UK and HBO, where she also starred in the remarkable (and worth watching) “Elizabeth I” with Jeremy Irons, Hugh Dancy, Eddie Redmayne, and Toby Jones. What’s more, “Catherine the Great” is written by the same person who wrote “Elizabeth I,” Nigel Williams. The miniseries will focus on Catherine toward the end of her reign and her affair with Grigory Potemkin, who has not been cast yet.

    “I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power,” Mirren said in a statement. “She rewrote the rules of governance by a woman, and succeeded to the extent of having the word Great attached to her name, Catherine the Great. I am very grateful to have HBO and Sky as partners in this endeavour. There are no other homes on television that bring the support and understanding needed for this kind of project.”

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    Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.