Thursday, July 21, 2005

Elizabeth I

Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons To Star:
HBO Films Miniseries Elizabeth I
Debuting In 2006

Hugh Dancy, Patrick Malahide And Ian McDiarmid Co-Star;
Directed by Tom Hooper From A Script By Nigel Williams;
Executive Produced For Company Pictures By George Faber, Charles Pattinson
And Suzan Harrison; Produced By Barney Reisz

Helen Mirren ("The Clearing," "Gosford Park") and Jeremy Irons ("Being Julia," "The Merchant of Venice") star in Elizabeth I, a two-part HBO Films miniseries currently filming in Vilnius, Lithuania. Directed by Tom Hooper ("Red Dust," "Prime Suspect VI - The Last Witness") from a script by BAFTA Award-winning screenwriter and acclaimed novelist Nigel Williams ("Dirty Tricks," "The Wimbledon Poisoner"), Elizabeth I, explores the intersection of the private and public life of Elizabeth I in the latter half of her reign, offering a personal look at her allies, her enemies and her suitors.

Hugh Dancy ("King Arthur"), Ian McDiarmid ("Star Wars" episodes I, II, III and VI) and Patrick Malahide ("Sahara") co-star. Produced by Company Pictures, Elizabeth I is an HBO Films presentation in association with the UK's Channel 4. George Faber (HBO's Emmy(r)-nominated "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers"), Charles Pattinson ("The Life and Death of Peter Sellers") and Suzan Harrison ("The Rotters' Club") are executive producers; Barney Reisz ("The Woodlanders") is producer. Elizabeth I will air on HBO in two parts in 2006.

Told through her relationship with the two key men in her life, the Earl of Leicester and the Earl of Essex, Elizabeth I finds Elizabeth unmarried and with no heir. Faced with the prospect of a controversial, strategic marriage, she balances her duties and responsibilities as a monarch with her needs and desires as a woman.

Says Colin Callender, president, HBO Films, "We have wanted to work with Helen Mirren for many years, and this remarkable role is an extraordinary showcase for Helen's great talents. It's an extraordinary portrait of a leader struggling with the responsibilities of power and the impact it has on her personal life. Playing opposite the great Jeremy Irons and exciting newcomer Hugh Dancy, Helen Mirren's interpretation of the role promises to be a provocative reexamination of one of history's great characters."

Adds screenwriter Williams, "Told through the eyes of Elizabeth herself, this is the story of a woman in supreme command in a violent and turbulent age. A fiercely intelligent, outstandingly courageous and passionate woman, her tragedy was that her head and her heart could never be reconciled."

England, 1579: Elizabeth I (Helen Mirren) is 15 years into her Protestant reign and faces two enormous challenges - questions over the succession to the throne and the threat of the Catholic powers, as represented by Spain.

The events of Part One of Elizabeth I are presented through the prism of Elizabeth's relationship with the Earl of Leicester (Jeremy Irons), her lover and trusted advisor. The miniseries traces the evolution of their relationship as Leicester tries to balance his love for Elizabeth, his loyalty to her as her trusted advisor, and his pursuit of his own self-interests. Elizabeth and Leicester have agreed that they cannot marry - this would be strategically unwise for her - but they have nevertheless chosen to remain on intimate terms, in spite of his role as advisor to the Queen. When Alencon, a French prince and suitor, arrives on the scene, Leicester initially sees him as a political threat and slowly comes to see him as an emotional one. Part One also addresses two other major events in this portion of Elizabeth's reign: the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the War with Spain. It culminates with the death of Leicester and the British victory over Spain, juxtaposing Elizabeth's public celebration and private grief.

Part Two follows the latter years of Elizabeth's reign and her tumultuous relationship with the young Earl of Essex (Hugh Dancy). She is caught in a private duel, fighting her own carnal attraction to Essex, while trying to recognize and thwart his dangerous ambitions. Following the execution of Essex for treason, Elizabeth ascends gloriously, but lonely, into the pantheon of great British rulers.

Helen Mirren (Elizabeth I) has won numerous awards for her work in TV and film. A two-time Academy Award(r) nominee, for supporting roles in "Gosford Park" and "The Madness of King George," she has won two Emmy(r) Awards ("The Passion of Ayn Rand" and "Prime Suspect 4: Scent of Darkness"), and has received five additional nominations; two SAG Awards (cast award and female actor award for "Gosford Park"), with three additional nominations; a Golden Globe Award for "Losing Chase," with five additional nominations; and three BAFTA Awards for her starring role as Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison in the PBS series "Prime Suspect," with five additional nominations. Her film credits include "Calendar Girls," "Raising Helen," "Last Orders," "Teaching Mrs. Tingle," "Some Mother's Son," "Cal," "The Mosquito Coast," "The Long Good Friday," "Excalibur," "The Comfort of Strangers," "Pascali's Island," "The Pledge" and "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover." Her next film is "Shadowboxer." Mirren made her directorial debut last year with the short film "Happy Birthday."

Jeremy Irons (Earl of Leicester) won an Academy Award(r), a Golden Globe Award and Best Actor awards from the National Society of Film Critics, and the Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago Film Critics Associations for his performance as Claus von Bulow in "Reversal of Fortune." He received two other Golden Globe nominations, for "The Mission" and "Brideshead Revisited." His other films include "Betrayal," "Moonlighting," "Swann in Love," "The French Lieutenant's Woman," "Dead Ringers," which brought him a Best Actor Award from the New York Film Critics Circle and a Canadian Genie, "Kafka," "M. Butterfly," "The House of the Spirits," "Stealing Beauty," "Die Hard with a Vengeance," "The Man in the Iron Mask," "Lolita," "The Lion King" and "Danny, Champion of the World," in which he starred opposite his son Sam. Most recently, Irons starred in "Being Julia" and "The Merchant of Venice." He won an Emmy(r) for Best Voice-Over Performance in the miniseries "The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century" and a Tony for Best Actor in Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing."

Hugh Dancy (Earl of Essex) has appeared in such films as "King Arthur," "Black Hawk Down," "Tempo," "Ella Enchanted" and "The Sleeping Dictionary." He recently completed filming on "Shooting Dogs" and "Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction." His TV work includes "Young Blades," BBC's "Madam Bovary" and Sam Mendes' "David Copperfield." Dancy's previous work with ELIZABETH I director Tom Hooper includes "Cold Feet" and "Daniel Deronda."

Ian McDiarmid (Burghley) has starred as Palpatine in the last four "Star Wars" films: "Episode III - Revenge of the Sith," "Episode II - Attack of the Clones," "Episode I - The Phantom Menace" and "Episode VI - Return of the Jedi." His other movies include "Sleepy Hollow," "Restoration," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "Gorky Park," "Dragonslayer" and "The Awakening." McDiarmid has appeared on TV in "Crime and Punishment," "All the King's Men," "Charles II: The Power & The Passion," "Great Expectations," "Rebecca," "Touching Evil," "Karaoke" and "Chernobyl: The Final Warning." His extensive theatre background includes a stint as artistic director of London's Almeida Theatre for more than ten years.

Patrick Malahide (Sir Francis Walsingham) most recently appeared in "Sahara" and will be seen in "Like Minds" in 2006. His other film credits include "Eurotrip," "The Final Curtain," "The Abduction Club," "Captain Corelli's Mandolin," "Quills," "Billy Elliot" and "The World Is Not Enough." His extensive TV work includes "Amnesia," "Poirot: Five Little Pigs," "In Search of the Brontes," "Goodbye, Mr. Chips," "Victoria & Albert," "All The King's Men" and "A Doll's House."

Tom Hooper (director) is a Best Director Emmy(r) nominee for the two-part drama "Prime Suspect 6 - The Last Witness," which starred Elizabeth I's Helen Mirren. Most recently he directed the feature film "Red Dust," with Hilary Swank. Hooper's TV work includes "Daniel Deronda," which won the Best Mini Series award at the 2003 Banff TV Festival, "Love in a Cold Climate," "Cold Feet II," two one-hour specials for "Eastenders," which won back-to-back BAFTA Awards for Best Soap, "Byker Grove," "Quayside" and "Painted Faces." In addition to Hooper's extensive background in commercials and corporate film and video, he directed "The Trial" and "A View from the Bridge" for the stage.

Nigel Williams (screenwriter) is a respected screenwriter, playwright and novelist. A two-time BAFTA Award winner, his screen adaptation of William Horwood's novel "Skallagrigg" and his screenplay for "The Storyteller: Greek Myths" won him BAFTA TV awards. His recent TV screenplays include "Footprints in the Snow," "Uncle Adolf," "Arena: Harold Pinter," "Bertie and Elizabeth," "Dirty Tricks," which won an International Emmy(r) Award, and "It Could Be You," among others. Williams' novels include "My Life Closed Twice," "Jack Be Nimble," "Star Turn," "Black Magic," "They Came From S.W.19," "East of Wimbledon," "Two and a Half Men in a Boat," "Scenes from a Poisoner's Life," "From Wimbledon to Waco" and "Stalking Fiona." He has written TV adaptations of three of his novels, among them "Fortysomething," "The Wimbledon Poisoner" and "Witchcraft."

George Faber (executive producer) has executive produced such TV programs as HBO's Emmy(r)-nominated "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers," "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby," "Anna Karenina," "Sons and Lovers," Jimmy McGovern's "The Lakes" and "White Teeth," as well as the recent Paul Abbott series "Shameless." He was executive producer on HBO's "Deadly Voyage" and associate producer on HBO's "Shot Through the Heart." His feature film credits include "Priest," "Persuasion," "Morvern Callar," "Mojo," "My Son the Fanatic" and "A Room for Romeo Brass."

Charles Pattinson (executive producer) is a producing partner with George Faber at Company Pictures. His producing credits include the films "Morvern Callar," "A Room for Romeo Brass," "The Stringer" and "Saigon Baby." Pattinson's extensive TV credits include HBO's "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers," "Shameless," "P.O.W.," Jimmy McGovern's "The Lakes," "40", "Unconditional Love," "Sons and Lovers," "Serious and Organized," "White Teeth," "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby," "Anna Karenina" and HBO's "Shot Through the Heart."

Suzan Harrison (executive producer) has executive produced such TV films as "The Rotter's Club," "Uncle Adolf," "White Teeth," "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby," "North Square," "Anna Karenina," "Cor Blimey!," "The Dark Room" and "Vanity Fair." Her producer's credits include "Tom Brown's Schooldays," "Sparkling Cyanide," "Sons and Lovers," "Tom Jones" and "The Ice House."

<> Barney Reisz (producer) produced the Academy Award(r)-nominated short film "It's Good To Talk" and the feature film "The Woodlanders," which won Best Film and Best Director at the Shanghai Film Festival; he also co-produced Mike Figgis' "The Loss of Sexual Innocence." His line producing credits include "Blue Ice," "Roughnecks," "Murder in Mind" and "Different for Girls." In addition, Reisz produced Sting's music video "Invisible Sun" for "X-Files - The Movie."
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