EXCLUSIVE: As we mark the 400th anniversary of Russia’s Romanov dynasty this year, FX has put in development an event series about the man closely associated with Romanovs’ final years. Rasputin, from Indian film director Shekhar Kapur, tells the story of the Russian peasant and mystic who became an adviser to the Russian Imperial family. Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring will write the script based on the upcoming book Rasputin: Dark Forces And The Fall of The Romanovs by Douglas Smith. Per FX, the event series centers on “one of the most controversial characters in history who is held responsible for bringing down the Russian Empire and changing the course of the world as we know it” and answers the question, “who was he really beyond the folklore, a true healer or the greatest charlatan the world has known?” Embraced by Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra as a healer for their only son, Tsarevich Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia, Rasputin’s influence with the ill-fated family placed them in the cross-hairs of the rising Bolshevik revolutionary movement, while cementing his own infamy with tales of heresy, black magic, sexual deviancy and immortality. It also earned Rasputin a lot of enemies, who tried to kill him in 1914, finally succeeding in 1916. The improbable story of Rasputin’s murder at the hands of several aristocrats is reminiscent of the repeated attempts on the life of Kevin Kline’s character in Lawrence Kasdan’s dark comedy I Love You To Death. During the course of one night, Rasputin was poisoned, shot three times and beaten with a dumbbell but somehow stayed alive. He was eventually dumped into the icy Neva River. Kapur will direct and executive produce with Scheuring. Smith serves as consultant.
Kapur is no stranger to historical/period dramas, having directed the Elizabeth films, Four Feathers and Bandit Queen. He had long been fascinated with Rasputin’s life and when FX, which had been looking to develop a limited series about the enigmatic Russian, learned of Kapur’s interest in the subject, the network brass sat down with the director and quickly found creative common ground. Scheuring was then brought in to co-create the project with Shekhar and write the script. Kapur, considered one of India’s most preeminent and influential filmmakers, is an adviser to the Prime Minister. He is with Sentient Entertainment, CAA and attorney Howard Frumes. Scheuring, repped by CAA and attorney David Weber, recently created ABC’s drama series Zero Hour and Discovery Channel’s upcoming Klondike miniseries.