Probably because it thinks it’s so smart and fancy with that show about the English king who kills everything he has sex with, Showtime is suddenly getting all classy and shit, adding two esteemed British thespians to its lineup of new series in development. The Borgias—described as a “Renaissance-era crime drama”—will star Derek Jacobi as Cardinal Orsini, an antagonist to Jeremy Irons’ sinister pope and patriarch of a powerful, morally corrupt Italian family. (So… The Sopranos in cassocks?) Jacobi, an old-guard Shakespearean actor who fraternized with Olivier, O’Toole, and Burton (and was reportedly an unrequited crush of Ian McKellen’s), is probably best known stateside for roles in films such as Gladiator and Gosford Park.
Also joining the network: Richard Griffiths, who will play a loosely fictionalized version of himself in the new comedy Episodes as a “brilliant British actor” who is deemed “too sophisticated” for an American TV pilot, and finds himself replaced by Ed star Matt LeBlanc. Griffiths likely needs no introduction, having played Uncle Vernon in all of the Harry Potter films—though to us he’ll always be the guy from The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell Of Fear who says the line, “He thrust his purple-headed warrior into her quivering mound of love pudding.” Who says American audiences aren’t sophisticated?