The BBC commissioned the Shakespeare project; Amazon joined as a co-producer. Principal photography gets underway this month, with former HBO executive Colin Callender’s Playground on production duty, alongside theater producer Sonia Friedman’s production company.
Richard Eyre (“The Dresser”) has adapted the play and will direct. The TV film will be set in a fictional version of present-day England, with Hopkins as the tragically capricious king and Thompson as his scheming eldest daughter, Goneril. The two actors starred together in 1993’s “The Remains of the Day,” for which both received Oscar nominations. Hopkins won the Best Actor statuette for “The Silence of the Lambs,” while Thompson picked up the Best Actress award for her performance in “Howards End.”
The starry “King Lear” cast also includes Emily Watson (“Theory of Everything”) as the king’s middle daughter, Regan, and Florence Pugh (“Marcella”) as youngest child Cordelia. Christopher Eccleston plays Oswald, Jim Broadbent takes the role of the Earl of Gloucester, and Andrew Scott plays his son Edgar.
“The film is a testament to the BBC’s ongoing commitment to the single drama, and we are very appreciative of their continued support,” executive producers Callender and Friedman said in a statement. “We are particularly excited to be working with Amazon, and their support for the film reflects their emergence as a leading global brand of top-quality drama.”
In the U.K., “King Lear” will launch on the BBC Two channel next year. Amazon has it for the U.S. and Germany, and will show it in the U.K. in a second window.
“Richard Eyre has assembled an unmissable cast to embody his vision for a timeless but deeply resonant screen adaptation of ‘King Lear,’” said Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama. “We are all looking forward to seeing this landmark production come to life on BBC Two.”
Brad Beale, vice president, Worldwide TV content acquisition, Amazon Prime Video, added: “Playground has an incredible track record of producing award-worthy series and films, and we are delighted to work with them and SFP on bringing such a star-studded, exciting adaptation to Prime members.”
Great Point Media is distributing “King Lear” outside of the Amazon and BBC territories and will kick off the sales effort at Mipcom in Cannes.