Colin Callender’s Playground and Sonia Friedman Productions are teaming for a contemporary TV movie version of King Lear, with a starry ensemble led by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. The duo is reuniting after seminal early ’90s collaborations Howards End and The Remains Of The Day. Richard Eyre will helm the Shakespeare adaptation with principal photography starting this month.
Set in the fictional present, King Lear sets Hopkins as the eponymous ruler, presiding over a totalitarian military dictatorship in England. Thompson stars as his eldest daughter Goneril. Also in starring is Emily Watson as middle daughter Regan, and Florence Pugh will play Cordelia, the youngest of Lear’s children.
Jim Broadbent is the Earl of Gloucester, Andrew Scott his loyal son Edgar and John Macmillan his illegitimate offspring Edmund. Further completing the cast are Downton Abbey‘s Jim Carter, The Leftovers‘ Christopher Eccleston, Outlander‘s Tobias Menzies, Anthony Calf (Riviera) and Karl Johnson (Rome).
Shakespeare’s tragedy follows Lear’s gradual descent into madness after he disposes of his kingdom giving bequests to two of his three daughters based on their flattery of him and with terrible consequences for all.
“It is a tribute to the great Richard Eyre that we have brought together such a remarkable cast. The film is a testament to the BBC’s on-going commitment to the single drama, and we are very appreciative of their continued support,” say exec producers Callender and Friedman.
Eyre directed Playground and Sonia Friedman Productions’ BBC drama The Dresser in which Hopkins starred along with Watson.
King Lear will be produced by Playground and Sonia Friedman Productions in association with Lemaise Pictures Limited for BBC Two. Producer is Noëlette Buckley (The Dresser, Wolf Hall). Executive producers also include Scott Huff for Playground and Lucy Richer for the BBC. Great Point Media will represent international rights.