The original four-part series adapted four of Shakespeare’s history plays – Richard II, Henry IV Part One, Henry IV Part Two and Henry V – into a single chronological narrative, used the bulk of the same actors for the same roles across all the relevant plays, and starred Ben Whishaw, Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons as three kings of England. The sequel is set to be subtitled War of the Roses and will adapt Shakespeare’s Henry VI (in two parts rather than three) and Richard III, the four plays that tell the story of the rise of the Tudor dynasty and the fall of the Plantagenets.
Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has already been announced to play the ill-fated King Richard III across all three plays (though his character doesn’t appear much in the Henry VI trilogy to be honest), He will be joined by a star-studded ensemble, led by none other than the great Dame Judi Dench (yes, really) as Richard’s mother Cecily, the Duchess of York, Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville as Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, Keeley Hawes as Queen Elizabeth and Tom Sturridge as King Henry VI. Sophie Okonedo was previously named to play Margaret of Anjou.
Um, wow. Wow.
Of course, being a massive Shakespeare nerd (and Yorkist apologist, sorry in advance), I’m already thinking – but who’s going to play King Edward? What about George, Duke of Clarence? No, but really, who’s going to be Margaret Beaufort? In short, there are a ton of great roles in these plays that haven’t been announced yet, so keep your fingers crossed there may yet be more perfect casting choices yet in store for us.
"To have the chance to work with some of Britain’s most talented actors is a dream come true,” Pippa Harris, executive producer for Neal Street Productions, said in a statement. “We couldn’t be more delighted to have them on board.”
Pretty sure that fans everywhere would agree. What a cast! (Judi Dench! The screaming in my house, you guys.)
The War of the Roses sequel is set to begin filming this September, with an eye to a 2015 broadcast.