If there’s anything The Crown and Victoria have taught us about ourselves, it’s that we love to see intense dramatizations of royal families on screen. And that’s what we’re going to get when The Last Czars premieres on Netflix on July 3. One hundred years after the assassination of Tsar Nicholas and his family, this unique docuseries will not only show a high-quality, scripted dramatization of the events that led to the downfall of the Romanov family, à la The Crown, but will also have experts in Russian history providing more context. To give you a taste of what’s to come, here are the cast and plot details of The Last Czars.
The Last Czars Plot
The Last Czars is a six-part series that breaks down the political machinations of the Romanov dynasty during Tsar Nicholas’ reign. In 1918, Russian Revolution agitators overthrew the monarchy in Russia and had Nicholas; his wife, Alexandra; and their five children killed after a reign that wasn’t exactly the greatest. The finale of the Romanov dynasty marked the beginning of the modern world, which makes this series a must-watch.
Nicholas II was the last emperor of Russia before he abdicated in 1917, at a time when social upheaval had swept across the country. He and his family were imprisoned for a year before they were executed in their cellar by Bolshevik guards who saw the eradication of the royal family as a must for the revolution.
Nicholas and his wife had earned no love for their imperious ways. While The Crown depicts the British monarchy’s ability to adapt and survive, Nicholas believed in a system of supremacy that held he was appointed by God and the Romanovs would therefore exist forever.
As the Netflix docuseries shows, the Tsar was resistant to change, while the Tsarina was more easily swayed by mysticism. Their marriage appeared to be filled with love, but politics and a changing world added to complications.
As Alexei, their son and heir to the throne, suffered from hemophilia, Alexandra fell victim to the manipulations of the infamous Grigori Rasputin, a rumored sex addict and raving alcoholic who became the Tsarina’s spiritual guide. While treating Alexei, Rasputin got closer to the Tsarina and the Tsar, eventually wielding considerable influence in the Romanov court.
The low point for the Romanovs came during World War I, when Nicholas became increasingly focused on the conflict. Extremely confident in his own strategic skills, he ignored key advice from wiser political strategists who were not Rasputin and joined the war.
Back home, Rasputin had become king in all but name through his influence on Alexandra. Russian subjects who also faithfully believed the monarchy to be superior felt a growing dissatisfaction with them when they suffered from abject poverty, starvation, oppression, and neglect during the war.
With Russia’s loss in the war, the dissent towards the monarchy and Rasputin intensified. The Last Czars trailer promises to show more of Rasputin and Alexandra’s relationship, which damaged the Romanov monarchy. It culminated when nobles, afraid of Rasputin’s growing influence, assassinated him.
But even after his death, the discredit Rasputin had brought to the Romanov dynasty was unfixable. A few weeks after he was killed, the monarchy was overthrown and the Romanovs met a violent end.
To the end, Nicholas and Alexandra brushed off the idea that they would be overthrown. They harbored a false sense of security that their people loved them. But historians providing commentary on The Last Czars reveal that the unrest outside the Tsar’s cozy palace only intensified during Rasputin’s proxy reign.
The Last Czars Cast
Character: Tsar Nicholas
Robert Jack is no newcomer, having been in the industry since 2005 with a recurring role in the British sitcom Gary Tank Commander to his credit. But The Last Czars is set to be his breakout role where he portrays the last Russian emperor.
Tsar Nicholas was the cousin of King George V, the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II. The Tsar was known for his handsome looks and air of confidence. The trailer alone shows that Jack not only looks like the Romanov, but also has his impervious aura.
Character: Tsarina Alexandra
British-born Susanna Herbert is an actress, producer, and director with a diverse body of credits. She’s familiar with the documentary scene, having produced and directed several including the Reelz series Autopsy: The Last Hours of. The Last Czars is her first acting job since 2014.
She is going to depict the rise and fall of Tsarina Alexandra, the German-born granddaughter of Queen Victoria who would go on to be the last empress of Russia. According to Herbert, Alexandra’s drive to protect her son and her relationship with her husband were something she inherited from Queen Victoria.
“Victoria taught her everything she knew, so she’s really much more powerful and less paranoid than history has written her as,” said Herbert.
Character: Grigori Rasputin
Ben Cartwright was last seen on Victoria, and now he’s once again delving into the power play of monarchies as the controversial figure Rasputin in The Last Czars. The British actor, with hits like Coronation Street and Casualty, has also starred alongside Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes.
As Rasputin, he will play a part in the Romanovs’ calamitous end with his growing closeness to the Tsarina and the Tsar. In the series, you will see how the Tsar came to value Rasputin’s shady advice over that of his own political advisers and mother.