Gillian Anderson Joins the Cast of 'The Great' Season 2

Gillian Anderson in Season 4 of "The Crown" (Photo: Netflix)

Hulu's hilarious, heartfelt period comedy-drama The Great was one of 2020's most unexpected delights, a frothy and wildly entertaining take on the life of a young Catherine the Great that chronicles her rise from outsider to the longest-reigning female ruler in Russia’s history. 

Elle Fanning stars as Catherine in this self-styled "occasionally true story" opposite Nicholas Hoult as her husband Peter III. But another famous famous is set to join the cast in the series' upcoming second season, one which will be familiar to Anglophiles everywhere. Gillian Anderson, who won a Golden Globe for her performance as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Season 4 of Netflix's The Crown, will take on the role of Catherine's mother, Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. 

Anderson will appear in two episodes of Season 2, playing the woman sometimes known as the "maestro of marriage" for her skill at arranging high profile partnerships for her daughters. A glamourous socialite from Germany, Joanna will arrive in Russia to check out the rumors of her daughter's coup for herself. And though it's clear she is the apple of Catherine’s eye and a doting mother, it soon becomes clear Johanna has more sinister intentions to save her family’s reputation.


— Gillian Anderson (@GillianA) May 14, 2021

The series' ten-episode first season saw Catherine arrive in Russia to wed Peter, only to discover that her new husband wasn't exactly the fairytale love she'd been promised. As the season continues, Catherine plots a coup against her husband even as their relationship grows more complicated and she learns just how much she doesn't know about what being a leader entails. Along the way, there are moments of excess and cruelty, as well as fun and heart. The Great may be a historical, period-set story, but it also frequently wrestles with much broader, more impactful, and modern concepts, such as questions of leadership and religion, the role of women in power, and how we remember the figures of our own past.

Along with Fanning and Hoult, Season 2 of the series will also star Phoebe Fox, Adam Godley, Gwilym Lee, Charity Wakefield, Douglas Hodge, Sacha Dhawan, Bayo Gbadamosi, and Belinda Bromilow.

Are you looking forward to Season 2 of The Great? Let's discuss in the comments.

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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