Derek Jacobi has joined the cast of the $30 million “Titanic — Blood and Steel” miniseries, with Chris Noth and Neve Campbell in talks for high-profile parts in the production from Italy’s De Angelis.
Jacobi, recently seen in “The King’s Speech,” plays Lord William Pirrie, chairman of ship builder Harland and Wolff, the company that built the ill-fated liner.
Sources say the production team is lining up Noth to play financier J.P. Morgan, with Campbell as a reporter covering the liner’s first voyage who may have deeper reasons for being on board.
The Titanic prequel, described as “Downton Abbey” meets “Boardwalk Empire,” also features Ophelia Lovibond, Billy Carter, Massimo Ghini, Branwell Donaghey, Martin McCann and Kevin Zegers.
Story focuses on designing and building the ship against the class-bound backdrop of Edwardian Belfast, Northern Ireland, where financial pressures led to fatal compromises.
Irish helmer Ciaran Donnelly (“The Tudors”) begins filming “Titanic — Blood and Steel” in Serbia this week.
Mini is due to air around the time of next spring’s 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s maiden voyage to New York.
The 12-parter is co-produced with 3 Arts (Los Angeles), Italian pubcaster RAI, Blighty’s Artists Studio, Gaul’s Marathon Group, Germany’s Tandem Communication, Ireland’s Epos Films and Antena 3 in Spain. Distribution is handled by Zodiak Rights.
Based on an idea by Fabrizio del Noce, the series has been penned by Matthew Faulk, Mark Skeet and Stefano Voltaggio. Show is executive produced by De Angelis Group prexy Guido De Angelis.
Group managing director Andrea Zoso said: “This story, never told before, examines the tensions, politics and financial pressures involved in building the Titanic.
“The ship, which put comfort before safety, was conceived as a way of connecting Europeans to America. We have lined up an international cast that reflects these two cultures.”
“Titanic — Blood and Steel” has presold to RAI and Antena 3. It will be available to buyers at next month’s Mipcom sales mart in Cannes.