Catherine The Great (played by Helen Mirren) overthrew her husband, Tsar Peter III, to become Empress of Russia, eventually turning the kingdom it into a great power of Europe. However her legacy has been overshadowed by notorious myths concerning her sexual conquests concocted by her son and successor Paul I. The Sky Atlantic drama intends to set the record straight and shines a light on the love story between her and Grigory Potemkin (Jason Clarke) as well as the many other lovers she had too.
Speaking at press including Express.co.uk, Helen explained she found it difficult at first to understand the Empress’ attitude to sex.
Helen began: “I’ve obviously been through the liberation, the sexual revolution, the sixties and all the rest of it.
“In reality, we are still coming out of a kind of Victorianism, Protestant Puritanism, we still as a culture as a society coming out of it, so we do still have certain inbuilt attitudes.
“And, had them, even though I think of myself as a liberated woman, I still couldn’t get my head around her sexual liberation.”
The fiery couple sent each other several love letters a day but eventually took other lovers during their relationship.
Helen said: “I hate such a generic word, passion, you know, that ability to absolutely go all the way but also they never [lost] the intellectualism of Russian life.
“And, that’s what you sense in these characters of Potemkin and Catherine.”
Helen admits she believes Catherine was besotted by Potemkin but isn’t as certain of his agenda.
She added: “They were unbelievable, they were very physical with each other, she was passionately in love with him absolutely.
“Whether he was with her I don’t know, certainly it buttered his bread and he played that role very well but she was madly in love with him.
“Physically, mentally, and as well as this incredibly intense physical life they had, they had a very profound intellectual life together.
“You read the letters and the intellectual level is is very, very high.”