Emily Watson Joins Anthony Hopkins, Ian McKellen in ‘The Dresser’

Starz, BBC release first image from Richard Eyre's TV movie

LONDON — Emily Watson, who was Oscar nominated for “Hilary and Jackie” and “Breaking the Waves,” has joined the cast of Starz and the BBC’s TV movie “The Dresser,” which stars Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen.

Starz and the BBC have released the first image from the production, which director Richard Eyre is shooting in and around London. Colin Callender is producing, alongside Sonia Friedman.

Watson, whose recent credits include “The Theory of Everything,” plays the part of “Her Ladyship,” while Sarah Lancashire, who is best known for “Happy Valley” and “Last Tango in Halifax,” also joins the cast, as stage manager Madge.

Also in the cast are Vanessa Kirby as Irene, Edward Fox as Thornton, Tom Brooke as Oxenby/Edmond, John Ashton as Gloucester, Ian Conningham as Kent, Annalisa Rossi as Goneril, Helen Bradbury as Regan, Carl Sanderson as Cornwall, Matthew Cottle as Albany, and Martin Chamberlain as “Gentleman.”

“The Dresser” tells the story of one fateful night in a small regional theater in England during World War II as a troupe of touring actors stage a production of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” Bombs are falling, sirens are wailing, the curtain is up in an hour but the actor/manager, “Sir,” who is playing Lear, is nowhere to be seen. His dresser, Norman, must scramble to keep the production alive, but will Sir turn up in time and if he does will he be able to perform that night?

The TV movie is adapted from Ronald Harwood’s play, which was first adapted for the screen by Harwood for the 1983 Peter Yates film, starring Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay. The current production reverts to Harwood’s original text and presents the play as it was written for the stage.

Starz holds all U.S. multiplatform pay TV rights as well as worldwide multiplatform distribution rights, while the BBC has U.K. television rights.

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