THE HARDEST THING TO GOVERN IS THE HEART.
This Channel 4/HBO production focuses on The Virgin Queen’s passionate but delicate affairs with the Earl of Leicester (Jeremy Irons) and, following his death, the considerably younger Earl of Essex (Hugh Dancy), men she could fall in love with but never marry. The Tom Hooper-Nigel Williams duo portray political events over the years as a backdrop to these complex romances; it becomes surprisingly engaging thanks to Hooper’s steady direction, the colorful production design, the credible dialogue and, not least, the forceful performance by Helen Mirren as a woman who constantly has to fight to maintain her authority.
2005-Britain-U.S. Made for TV. 225 min. Color. Produced by Barney Reisz. Directed by Tom Hooper. Teleplay: Nigel Williams. Music: Rob Lane. Cast: Helen Mirren (Elizabeth I), Jeremy Irons (Robert Dudley), Patrick Malahide (Francis Walsingham), Toby Jones, Hugh Dancy, Barbara Flynn.
Trivia: Originally shown in two parts.
Emmys: Outstanding Miniseries, Directing, Actress (Mirren), Supporting Actor (Irons). Golden Globes: Best Miniseries, Actress (Mirren), Supporting Actor (Irons).
Las word: “It’s obviously a magnificent role, and I knew that Nigel was a really, really good writer. So I said yes without reading the script. I felt she had a very interesting and complicated private life, but it played out against such an extraordinarily political life and international life on a very grand stage. So I thought we needed to include that side of her life. The fact is she was maneuvering her private life around her public life, and her public life was the most important part of her life, and she consistently sacrificed her private life to her public life. And Nigel just did the most brilliant job of combining the public and the private so beautifully in the script.” (Mirren, HBO)