There's a joke among those who love British television that there are only a dozen actors in the U.K., and the BBC employs all of them all the time in every show. That's not quite true, but when you have a high-profile series that's going to be a topline title for a streaming service determined to make a splash in the British TV space with a well-known title and an A-list director, the usual suspects will round themselves up and get in line to nab a role. Ben Vanstone's A Gentleman in Moscow for Paramount+/Showtime already recruited Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead for the leading roles. Now the rest of the cast has filled out with other popular actors.
Based on the 2016 novel by Amor Towles of the same name, the story revolves around the fictional Count Rostov, orphaned at a young age and sent out of the country to Paris as a teenager. He returns in 1917 after the Bolshevik revolution, only to be arrested and put on trial as a social parasite. However, his eloquent refusal to confess leads to him not being lined up against the wall and shot. Instead, he's placed under house arrest for life at the Hotel Metropol in central Moscow, where he eventually becomes a surrogate father to another child orphaned by circumstances.
McGregor plays the Count, with Winstead as another hotel resident, a self-made film actress, Anna Urbanova. The cast joining them for the project include John Heffernan (Becoming Elizabeth), Leah Harvey (Les Miserables), Johnny Harris (Great Expectations), Fehinti Balogun (I May Destroy You), Paul Ready (Bodyguard), Anastasia Hille (Baptiste), Lyès Salem (Munich), Björn Hlynur Haraldsson (The Witcher), Dee Ahluwalia (Sex Education), and Alexa Goodall (The Devil's Hour).
Here’s the show’s official synopsis:
The plot follows Rostov in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, who finds that his gilded past places him on the wrong side of history. Spared immediate execution, he is banished to an attic room in the opulent Hotel Metropol and threatened with death if he sets foot outside again. As the years pass and some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history unfold outside the hotel’s doors, Rostov’s reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
The series has an Upstairs/Downstairs dynamic. Ready is the now former Prince, Petrov, and Balogun plays Mishka, the Count’s best friend from university. Heffernan is a bureaucrat named Bishop; Harris plays Osip, a member of the secret police, and Goodall is the Count’s unlikely young friend Nina. Downstairs includes Salem as Andrey, the Maître d’ of the Hotel Metroil’s Boyarsky restaurant, Haraldsson as head chef, and Ahluwalia as the bartender. Harvey plays the hotel chambermaid, while Hille is Anna’s dresser and confidante, Olga.
Vanstone (All Creatures Great and Small) is the series showrunner and Executive Producer alongside Eye In The Sky’s Xavier Marchand and Tom Harper’s Popcorn Storm Pictures. McGregor and Towles are also executive producers, along with director Sam Miller (Luther), who helms all episodes.
A Gentleman In Moscow is expected to start filming in the coming weeks. The series is expected to arrive sometime in 2024.