Jeremy Irons

British Actors Excel at Playing Real People: They’ve Got the Oscars to Prove It

British actors aren’t strangers to Academy Award acclaim. Last weekend Eddie Redmayne, star of The Theory of Everything in which he gave a radiant performance as world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, joined the company of almost thirty of his fellow countrymen and women in winning a Best Leading Actor or Actress statuette since the honors were first bestowed 87 years ago.

Vivien Leigh won twice for her portrayal of some very famous fictional characters; in 1940 for Gone with the Wind and in 1952 for A Streetcar Named Desire. Laurence Olivier was recognized in 1949 for his interpretation of one of the most famous of Shakespeare’s characters, Hamlet.

Today, however, I want to focus on those actors, like Mr. Redmayne who have taken on the daunting challenge of playing a person who actually existed and were rewarded with a little bald golden man for their trouble. The biopic trend has been on the increase since the 1980’s but that’s not to say that people weren’t bringing history to life long before that time.

First Look: PBS Preview for Shakespeare Series 'The Hollow Crown'

The highly anticipated Shakespeare mini-series The Hollow Crown will finally air in America this Fall as part of PBS’s Great Performances series – and given the response online to the announcement of the series’ premiere date, a lot of people are pretty excited to get their Bard on. (No judgment, I am too.)

The star-studded quartet of films adapts four of Shakespeare’s most famous history plays – Richard II, Henry IV Part One, Henry IV Part Two and Henry V – as single chronological narrative, telling the story of the rise and fall of a dynasty. The series, which stars many notable British actors including Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Patrick Stewart, Rory Kinnear, Michelle Dockery, David Suchet, Simon Russell Beale and more, will run weekly on Friday nights beginning September 20.

Watch the first PBS preview for The Hollow Crown below – plus an extra bonus clip featuring BAFTA-winning actor Whishaw performing the deposition monologue from Richard II.

Star-Studded Shakespeare Mini-Series The Hollow Crown Comes to PBS This Fall!

Get excited: The Hollow Crown – a star-studded quartet of several of William Shakespeare’s most famous history plays – finally has an American airdate. The films will premiere on Great Performances this September on PBS stations around the country, running weekly from September 20 – October 11.

The Hollow Crown is a four-part miniseries that assembles four of Shakespeare’s history plays – Richard II, Henry IV Part One, Henry IV Part Two and Henry V – into a single chronological narrative, complete with relevant cast members popping up as the same character across the different plays. It’s beautifully acted, gorgeous to look at and, really, just some stunningly all-around good Shakespeare. So excited that it’s finally going to screen in the US!

Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston star as King Richard II, King Henry IV and King Henry V, respectively, with a supporting cast of such notable British stars as Patrick Stewart, Simon Russell Beale, Rory Kinnear, John Hurt, Julie Walters, David Suchet, Michelle Dockery, David Morrissey and more.

(Both Whishaw and Beale just won BAFTAs for their performances in this production. So you know it’s legit.)

Watch the BBC Two trailer for The Hollow Crown below. (Spoiler: It's really good!)