Hellen Mirren is no stranger to playing royals, and she's bringing that regal air of hers to the small screen for an HBO series that could be the perfect showcase for her talents. She'll star in HBO's limited series Catherine the Great as the legendary empress of Russia who helped shape the nation into what it is today. A first look at Mirren as Catherine the Great has hit the web, and it reveals the venerable actress looking fantastic and more than a little bit intimidating in Catherine's private quarters. Check it out!

In case you had any doubts that Helen Mirren could portray a leader out of Russia as well as an English ruler, her regal air in this first-look photo should reassure you. Catherine the Great will follow Catherine in the 18th century, relatively late in her reign and during her legendary affair with Grigory Potemkin. Despite a scandalous relationship, conflict on just about all sides, and intrigue, they develop a devoted relationship that really can't be compared to any other. Together, they fight to overcome those who would oppose them, and Potemkin helps Catherine change Russia in a way that continues to impact the country today.

Now, Catherine the Great isn't the kind of leader Helen Mirren has played in the past. The 18th-century ruler was strong-minded, brilliant, sexually liberated, and independent. Catherine's court is sexually charged and teeming with political complications, and it's not easy for her to stay in power long enough to become Russia's longest-ruling female leader. (In an interesting historical note, the real Catherine wasn't actually Russian, but rather born in an area of the Kingdom of Prussia that is now Poland.) Mirren is on board Catherine the Great as executive producer as well as star. The limited series is still shooting in Russia, Latvia, and Lithuania, taking advantage of palaces to create an atmosphere fitting for the series.

We already knew that Helen Mirren would play Catherine, Jason Clarke would play Russian military commander-turned-Catherine's lover Grigory Potemkin, and Joseph Quinn as Catherine's son and heir, Paul. New additions to the cast include Gina McKee as Catherine's lifelong friend and confidante Countess Bruce, Rory Kinnear as Paul's advisor Minister Panin, Richard Roxburgh as Catherine's former lover and conspirator Grigory Orlov, Kevin R. McNally as Grigory Orlov's brother Alexei, and Sam Palladio as Catherine's young lover Alexander Vasilichikov.

Catherine the Great will run for four episodes. Unfortunately, no release date for Catherine the Great has been announced just yet; given that the show is still filming and the photo of Helen Mirren as Catherine proves that the show is embracing ornate sets and costumes, we probably shouldn't expect it hitting the small screen on HBO too soon. The good news is that there are plenty of viewing options in the not-too-distant future, as you can see on our fall TV premiere schedule and our Netflix premiere guide.

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