Huzzah! Gillian Anderson has been cast as Catherine the Great’s mother in one of the first pieces of news about The Great’s Season 2. The first season of Hulu’s historically laissez-faire retelling of Russia’s most infamous queen received great reviews and several award nominations, so expectations are high for the next season. Anderson is pitch-perfect casting as Catherine’s mother since her daughter is played by Elle Fanning. Returning from the first season are cast members Nicholas Hoult, Phoebe Fox, Sacha Dhawan and Gwilym Lee.
Anderson is joining what is sure to be a wild follow-up to the first season, as the finale ended on several cliffhangers. The Great follows the titular Catherine the Great, the longest-reigning monarch in Russian history, focusing on her marriage to Peter III for the first season. In the closing episode, Hoult’s Peter discovered Catherine’s plot to overthrow him, Catherine confirmed her pregnancy, and her lover, the sensitive and dashing Leo, may or may not be dead. Since it’s very clear that the show does not follow historical events to a tee, audiences have no guarantee of what will happen next.
Unfortunately, Anderson will only be appearing in two episodes, but I’m sure she’ll make quite an impression with her trademark combination of gravitas and deadpan humor. Her character, Joanna, is a glamorous socialite from Germany, known for her abilities to arrange high-profile marriages for her children. Hearing of the coup in Russia, she rushes to her daughter’s aid, but her intentions may prove more sinister to save her family’s reputation. Casting Anderson and giving us a hint at her storyline implies that season two will focus on the aftermath of the coup, and Catherine’s continuous struggle for power, perhaps even to the detriment of her friends and family.
Creator and executive producer Tony McNamara led this satirical dramedy with the right amount of theatrical aplomb and more modern themes, so he will certainly be able to make the most of Anderson’s casting even if its only for two episodes. In an exclusive with Collider, McNamara did tease us more hints about the future of the show, including that the series may have three to four seasons and that he’s in no rush to recast Fanning or Hoult with older actors if that’s where the story takes him. For context, McNamara originally pitched the series as something like The Crown, although I’m wildly happy he skewed more towards the tone of his Oscar-nominated screenplay The Favourite.
The Great’s first season is currently available to stream on Hulu.