Cast confirmed for BBC Two's cycle of Shakespeare films

Date: 24.11.2011     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.56
Category: BBC Two; Drama
The definitive cast list for the BBC Two Shakespeare films encompassing Richard II, Henry IV (Parts I and II) and Henry V has been confirmed.

Featuring some of the greatest Shakespearean actors and directors of our time, all four films have been commissioned by BBC Two for their Shakespeare season in 2012 as part of the BBC’s contribution to the London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad. The films were commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning and Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two.

Set in the medieval period, these bold adaptations of four of Shakespeare’s most acclaimed history plays will produce some of the most ambitious television of recent years. As principal photography begins on Henry V, the previously announced Kings - Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston - will be joined by a phenomenal ensemble cast.

Ben Whishaw said: “Playing Richard II has been a hugely rewarding experience. Working on this beautiful play with Rupert Goold and an amazing cast has been one of the most magical and memorable experiences of my career.”

Jeremy Irons said: “I am most grateful to have this opportunity of returning to Shakespeare, to film under the experienced eye of Richard Eyre, alongside such exciting actors.”

Tom Hiddleston said: “I am incredibly proud and privileged to be playing Prince Hal and Henry V in these new adaptations. He was one of England's great kings and one of Shakespeare's great men, and it is an extraordinary honour to have been asked to play him. I will be steeped in mud, blood, and warrior poetry for the next four months, led by two of the greatest directors working today, alongside a group of actors I have admired and respected all my life. I can't wait.”

Richard II

In the first film of the cycle, Ben Whishaw (The Hour) will play King Richard II with Rory Kinnear (The NT’s Hamlet) as his challenger, Bolingbroke. John of Gaunt will be played by Patrick Stewart (The RSC’s Merchant of Venice), with David Suchet (Poirot) as The Duke of York and David Morrissey (South Riding) as Northumberland. Tom Hughes (Silk) will play Aumerle and Mowbray will be played by James Purefoy (Rome). Clemence Poésy (Harry Potter) will play the role of Queen Isabella and Lindsay Duncan (Alice in Wonderland) will play The Duchess of York. Other confirmed cast members include Lucian Msamati (The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency) and David Bradley (Harry Potter).

Completing the confirmed cast of Richard II are Isabella Laughland, Daniel Boyd, Finbar Lynch, Richard Bremmer, Harry Hadden Paton, Ferdinand Kingsley, Samuel Roukin, Tom Goodman-Hill, Adrian Schiller, Peter De Jersey, Simon Trinder and Rhodri Miles.

Richard II Production designer is Andrew McAlpine (An Education, The Piano), with Danny Cohen (The King's Speech) as Director of Photography and Odile Dicks Mireaux (The Constant Gardner) as Costume Designer.

Richard II is directed by Rupert Goold who also adapted the play with Ben Power, Associate Director of the National Theatre. Richard II completed filming in July 2011 and is currently in post-production.

Henry IV (Parts I and II)

The second and third films will see Jeremy Irons (The Borgias) playing Henry IV, supported by Tom Hiddleston (Thor) as Prince Hal. Simon Russell Beale (Spooks) will play Falstaff and Julie Walters (Mamma Mia, Mo) will play Mistress Quickly. Hotspur will be played by Joe Armstrong (Robin Hood) and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) is to play Lady Percy alongside Maxine Peake (Criminal Justice) as Doll Tearsheet. Lady Northumberland will be played by Niamh Cusack (A Touch of Frost) with Alun Armstrong (New Tricks) as Northumberland. Reece Shearsmith (The League Of Gentlemen) will play the role of Davy, Tom Georgeson (Notes on a Scandal) will play Bardolph, Pistol will be played by Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner) and Douglas Henshall (South Riding) will play Mowbray. Iain Glen (Downton Abbey) will play Warwick and Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By) will play Lord Chief Justice.

Completing the confirmed cast of Henry IV are Henry Faber, James Laurenson, David Hayman, Robert Pugh, Alex Clatworthy, Stephen McCole, David Dawson, Ian Conningham and Nick Jones.

Henry IV Production Designer is Donal Woods (Downton Abbey, Cranford). Director of Photography is Ben Smithard (Cranford) with Annie Symons (Gideon’s Daughter, The Crimson Petal and the White) as Costume Designer.

Henry IV is directed and adapted for the screen by Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal, Iris). Filming on Henry IV will begin in January 2012.

Henry V

Tom Hiddleston (Thor) will play Henry V in the final film. John Hurt (Merlin, Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy) will play The Chorus and Julie Walters (Mamma Mia, Mo) will play Mistress Quickly. Lambert Wilson (The Matrix) will play the King of France with Mélanie Thierry (Babylon A.D) as his daughter, Princess Katherine. Anton Lesser (The Hour) will play Exeter, Paterson Joseph (The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency) will play York and Edward Akrout (The Borgias) will play Louis, The Dauphin. Stanley Weber (Borgia) will play the Duke of Orleans, Owen Teale (Game of Thrones) will play Fluellen and Richard Griffiths (The History Boys) will play the Duke of Burgundy. Tom Georgeson (Notes on a Scandal) and Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner) return as Bardolph and Pistol.

Completing the confirmed cast of Henry V are Malcolm Sinclair, Nigel Cooke, James Laurenson, Richard Clothier, Tom Brooke, George Sargeant, Gwilym Lee, John Dagleish, Paul Freeman, Geraldine Chaplin, Thomas Dennis, Philippe De Brougada, Maxime Lefrancois and Jeremie Corvillault.

Henry V has been adapted by Ben Power, Associate Director of The National Theatre. Production Designer is Alan MacDonald (The Queen). The Director of Photography is Michael McDonough (Winter's Bone) with Annie Symons (Gideon’s Daughter, The Crimson Petal and the White) as Costume Designer.

Henry V is directed by the acclaimed theatre director Thea Sharrock (Equus, The Misanthrope). Filming on Henry V begins in late November 2011.

Executive Producers are Pippa Harris (Revolutionary Road, Stuart A Life Backwards) and Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Jarhead) for Neal Street Productions, Gareth Neame (Downton Abbey, State of Play) for NBCUniversal International and Ben Stephenson for the BBC. The Producer is Rupert Ryle-Hodges, co-producer of Cranford.

Executive Producer Pippa Harris says: “This is a fantastic opportunity to bring Shakespeare to a worldwide TV audience, in a vivid and enthralling way. It’s hugely exciting to be working with such an array of talent and we are particularly thrilled to have three of the greatest directors of our generation on board.”

Executive Producer Sam Mendes comments: "I am delighted to be making these Shakespeare films for the BBC. One of my earliest introductions to Shakespeare was watching the plays on TV, and it's terrific to have the opportunity to bring them to a new, wider audience. "

Gareth Neame, Managing Director, NBCUniversal International UK, says: “NBCUniversal International is delighted to partner with Neal Street, BBC and WNET to bring this definitive version of this cycle of the history plays to our screens. It demonstrates our commitment to finance and produce expressly British content and distribute it to audiences worldwide.”

BBC Drama Publicity