Spectacular Film Adaptations of Shakespeare Plays On PBS Great Performances
By: Ellis Nassour
Chronicling a bloody tale of family, politics, and power, PBS Great Performances’ The Hollow Crown [Neal Street Productions, NBCUniversal Internatinonal] is a lavish series of filmed adaptations of four of Shakespeare’s most gripping history plays: Richard II, Henry IV, Parts I and II and Henry V. They tell of the rise and fall of three Kings and how their destiny shaped English history. THIRTEEN will air the programs September 20 (9 P.M.) through October 11. The kings are portrayed, respectively by Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons, and Tom Hiddleston. Appearing in major featured roles are Simon Russell Beale, Michelle Dockery, John Hurt, Rory Kinnear, James Purefoy, Patrick Stewart, and Julie Waters.
Series overview: Richard II (Whishaw) is a vain, self-indulgent man who rules with little regard for his people’s welfare. He’s ultimately overthrown by his cousin Bolingbroke (Kinnear), who ascends the throne as Henry IV (Irons). Henry IV’s reign is marred by his own guilt over Richard’s death, civil war, and the growing fear that his son Hal (Hiddleston) is a wastrel unworthy of the throne. When Hal comes to the throne as Henry V, he’s left to bury the ghosts of his father’s past while fighting both the French forces as well as his own demons.
Richard II is directed by Rupert Goold. Richard Eyre directs Henry IV, Parts I and II (September 27/October 4, 9 P.M.). Henry V (October 11, 9 P.M.) is helmed by Thea Sharrock.
The plays were filmed on location in England from 2011 – 2012 and are set in their authentic medieval period. The series was honored with BAFTA Television Awards for Whishaw (Leading Actor) and Beale (Supporting Actor). In addition, there were craft awards for Score and Sound.
Co-exec producer Pippa Harris says, "The Hollow Crown adaptations show the trials, tribulations, and murderous backdrop behind our own history. While they collectively say so much about Britain, the global appeal of Shakespeare is never-ending. Our phenomenal cast really brings a vivid and inspirational edge to these Shakespeare classics."
Producer Gareth Neame (Downton Abbey) explains, "The series is not only an exciting and ambitious new cycle for these Shakespeare history plays, but comes with stunning performances by a range of superb actors."
Major funding for Great Performances is provided by the Irene Diamond Fund, The Starr Foundation, Vivian Milstein, Rosalind P. Walter, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and, among others, viewers like you.