We’ve known for some time that Spike TV has wanted to get back into original programming. The network made the first big push when it announced a Tut event series, and now it seems the station has landed a pretty big name to star. On Monday, Spike TV announced that veteran actor Ben Kingsley has joined the project.
Kingsley’s age rules out his ability to actually play King Tut. Instead, he’s set to play Ay, the leading advisor to the young Egyptian ruler. Ancient Egyptians actually had awesome names for people in positions of power, and Ay’s actual title is “Grand Vizier.” We’ve known for a little while that Tut would follow the ruler’s rise to power and would include a colorful population of advisors, lovers and friends all scheming to earn their own wealth and power. Kingsley is the first big hire for Tut, and it’s certainly a great addition for a network that has been out of the original programming game for the better part of a decade. In fact, Kingsley should even have a little practice playing an Egyptian, having signed on to play a pharaoh in Night at the Museum 3.
Spike seems to know they nabbed a great actor for the part, with Executive Vice President of Original Series Sharon Levy even mentioning a tidbit about the part in her nod to Kingsley.
“Tut is the biggest and most ambitious project in Spike’s history. Who better to lead the cast than one of the greatest actors of our generation — Ben Kingsley. The character he plays, Ay, is the true power behind the Tutankhamun throne. We are so fortunate to have an actor of Ben Kingsley’s stature bring this character to life for Spike.”
In recent years, Ben Kingsley has been mostly known for his movie and theater work, but occasionally he does take on challenging roles in television, appearing in Coronation Street and Orlando many decades ago when his career was just starting out. During his lifetime, he’s nabbed an Academy Award, two BAFTA awards, two Golden Globes and even more nominations. In short, he should bring a few eyeballs to Spike TV’s historical series.
Tut has been pretty quick to come together. Back in May, the network announced the series was getting off the ground and would be shot partly in Morocco and partially in Canada. Instead of going through a pilot process to determine whether or not the show would be a good fit, Spike TV ordered Tut straight to series, signing on for six one-hour segments chronicling the life and times of the boy-king. Tut is being billed as an event series.
With production expected to begin on Tut this fall, and with Spike TV shooting for a 2015 premiere, it’s highly likely that we’ll be hearing more news about Tut very soon. I’m not sure any of the castings will be able to compete with Kingsley, but we’ll keep you posted, nonetheless. Suffice to say, Tut is off to a very good start.