'The Serpent Queen' Adds 10 New Faces to Season 2 Cast

Picture shows: Catherine (Samantha Morton) appeals to Mathilde.

Catherine (Samantha Morton) tries to charm Mathilde into staying with her.

© Starz

As production ramps up on the second season of Starz's biting period drama The Serpent Queen, Starz has confirmed the addition of ten new cast members in various roles. The series stars Samantha Morton (Harlots) as the famous French queen Catherine de Medici, a complicated and controversial figure who was the mother of three kings and who is frequently remembered in history as a dark and sinister figure who loved poison and the occult, kept company with questionable people like the seer Nostradamus and may have murdered her enemies to get ahead. (Most of this is probably untrue, but history has never been all that comfortable with powerful women.) 

The Starz series aims to put a more contemporary spin on her story and does so with no small amount of glee, granting her fourth-wall-breaking monologues and refusing to judge the worst of her actions. The Serpent Queen's first season started with the young Catherine's early life, beginning with her arrival in France when she was fourteen. Wed to the second son of the French king, the young princess must learn to navigate an openly hostile court and manage her unconventional relationship with her new husband, who was openly in love with his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, a woman 25 years his senior. But she is determined to survive at all costs, and that willingness to do anything in the service of her own interests will one day see her become one of the most powerful and longest-serving rulers in French history.

We don't know much about what Season 2 of The Serpent Queen will look like. The first season finale saw the events of the story Catherine had been telling all season about her origins catch up to the events of the life she is currently living, just as her second son is about to be crowned King Charles IX. Historically, this means some of her life's darkest and most dramatic events are still ahead of her, so it's not like the show will struggle to find narrative material. But the announcement of nearly a dozen new cast members and the characters they'll be playing certainly helps point us in a few likely directions.

Samantha Morton in "The Serpent Queen"

Samantha Morton in "The Serpent Queen"

(Photo: Starz)

The most exciting addition is Minnie Driver (Starstruck), who joins the Season 2 cast in the recurring role of Queen Elizabeth I. The real Catherine and Elizabeth never met, though the two women corresponded regularly, and the complex relationship that resulted was friendly and adversarial by turns. Though they frequently had opposing political, religious, and social objectives, they found uneasy compromise on many issues, particularly concerning their shared distrust and dislike of Mary, Queen of Scots. Two of Catherine's sons were even offered as marriage prospects for the famous "Virgin Queen."

Other new faces joining The Serpent Queen cast include:

  • Angus Imrie (Fleabag) as Henry de Bourbon-Navarre, who would one day become the first Bourbon king of France, Henry IV. The son of Antoine de Bourbon and Jeanne d'Albret, he appears uncivilized to the unobservant observer but in reality, he is quite an intellectual.
  • Emma McDonald (Moonhaven) now plays Rahima, whom viewers met in Season 1. Per the press release, she has grown in wit and confidence; she has now assumed an important position in Catherine's life
  • Stanley Morgan (Sexy Beast) is Anjou, the seventh of Catherine's ten children and the new King Charles's younger brother. Described as non-conforming and capable of disruptive violence.
  • Philippine Velge (Station Eleven) plays Margot, Catherine's second child and eldest daughter. Her mother's polar opposite; she is incredibly charming and liked by all. 
  • Rosalie Craig (The Tower) as Jeanne d'Albret, the self-righteous wife of Antoine de Bourbon and the mother of Henry IV. 
  • Isobel Jesper Jones (The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself) plays a character named Edith, a Protestant preacher with a group of loyal followers.
  • Bill Milner (The Flatshare) takes over the role of King Charles IX, the oldest surviving son of Catherine de Medici and the new ruler of France. Not a boy but not quite a man; he is anxious to play king and get it right. Unfortunately, his reign is primarily remembered for the culmination of decades of tension between Protestants and Catholics and a great deal of civil warfare. 
  • Ashley Thomas (Great Expectations) is Alessandro de Medici, the only Duke of African descent in Italy and Catherine's half-brother. Per the press release, he is a man possessed of great charisma and beauty and who is the object of desire.
  • Alexandre Willaume (1899) plays Montmorency, the Constable General of France. Described as wise and humorless, he is a loyal and serious servant of the king.

It seems likely that The Serpent Queen's second season will delve further into the conflict between Huguenots and Catholics. Time-wise, we're still about a decade away from Henry's engagement to Margot and the infamous St. Bartholomew's Massacre, for which Catherine will be primarily blamed. However, both events are certainly on the horizon in this story. 

The series is based on Leonie Frieda's book Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France. Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road) wrote the scripts and also serves as an executive producer alongside Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games) and Erwin Stoff (The Matrix). Lionsgate Television and 3 Arts Entertainment produce the series for STARZ.

There is no premiere date for The Serpent Queen Season 2, but it is expected to air before the end of the year. 

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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