Kate Winslet is one of the most admired actors of her generation, but she has never been “above TV”, as many of her peers insisted they were, at least until the prestige revolution of the 2010s. She starred in a miniseries adaptation of Mildred Pierce all the way back in 2011, before “peak TV” took hold and prestige dramas came to be the premiere acting platform. More recently, she had her own prestige drama with Mare of Easttown, and now she is returning to HBO/Max with The Regime, which is a prestige drama in the way of Succession, which is to say it looks more funny than serious.
The official trailer dropped yesterday, and while the teasers left me sort of cold, the full trailer totally won me over. I firmly believe we do not cast Kate Winslet in enough fun roles—she should have a whole string of rom-coms to her name after The Holiday—but she looks like she’s having a lot of fun here. She stars as Elena Vernham, the dictator/chancellor of a fake country on the brink of revolution as her authoritarian regime crumbles.
The six-part series takes place over the course of one year, with Hugh Grant appearing as her oppositional leader, and Martha Plimpton starring as the US Secretary of State. Andrea Riseborough stars as a member of the chancellor’s inner circle, and Matthias Schoenaerts, who previously starred with Winslet in A Little Chaos, stars as a military leader who becomes her romantic interest.
The Regime comes from Will Tracy, co-writer of The Menu and a veteran of Succession and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The series is being billed as “from the executive producers of Succession”, so it’s clear what influence they want us to see, but I see a lot of Armando Iannucci in this. Veep, sure, but more specifically The Death of Stalin, which satirizes authoritarianism, and The Thick of It and In The Loop, which nailed Anglo-American relations to the wall during the Bush-Blair years.
I am (now) very much looking forward to The Regime, and whatever this is that Kate Winslet is doing in it. At first, I (uncharitably) thought she did something to her face, given the odd way her mouth moves, but it’s clear she’s doing a voice for this role, and she seems to be affecting something specific with her strange mouth movements. Whatever she’s doing, by the time she got to “which makes me distrust all of you and want you to be dead”, I was laughing out loud. We all win when Kate Winslet gets to be fun!