Spurned by multiple imposters and one underrated children’s film, there have been persistent rumors throughout the better part of the 20th century that the 17-year-old Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova, daughter of Imperial Russia’s last tsar Nicholas II, played dead and escaped execution by the Bolshevik secret police in 1918. Like most Russian stories, Anastasia’s did not have a happy ending—what’s good, Dostoevsky—as a Russian archaeologist uncovered her partially burned, bullet-riddled remains in 2007.
All that considered, are we any less hyped for The Romanoffs, Amazon Prime’s new original series about a group of people who all believe themselves to be descendants of the Russian royal family? Before you hit us with a “nyet,” let’s also just mention that the series comes from Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner.
The Romanoffs will tell eight separate stories about all the people who believe themselves to be, well, Romanoffs. Each episode will feature a new cast and a new location; the series was filmed in seven countries across three continents. We may not know who’s really family, but one thing’s for sure: Prime didn’t pinch pennies for its first weekly original series.
Like any good Russian drama, the series boasts a sprawling cast of characters whose names you’d almost absolutely forget if they didn’t all claim to have the same one. The official cast list includes, and let’s just take a deep breath now, Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Marthe Keller (Marathon Man), Aaron Eckhart (Sully), Diane Lane (Unfaithful), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), John Slattery (Mad Men), Amanda Peet (Togetherness), Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire), Corey Stoll (The Strain), Andrew Rannells (Girls), Mike Doyle (Odd Mom Out), JJ Feild (TURN: Washington’s Spies), Janet Montgomery (Salem, This Is Us), Paul Reiser (Red Oaks), Noah Wyle (Falling Skies), Kathryn Hahn (Transparent), Kerry Bishé (Halt and Catch Fire), Jay R. Ferguson (Mad Men), Ben Miles (Collateral), Mary Kay Place (Big Love), Griffin Dunne (Imposters), Cara Buono (Mad Men), Ron Livingston (Office Space), Jon Tenney (Hand of God), Clea DuVall (Veep), Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill), Hugh Skinner (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again), Juan Pablo Castañeda (The Debt of Maximillian), Emily Rudd (Electric Dreams), Adèle Anderson (Company Business), Annet Mahendru (The Americans), Louise Bourgoin (I Am a Soldier), Hera Hilmar (Two Birds), Inès Melab (Agathe Koltès), Michael O’Neill (Dallas Buyers Club) and David Sutcliffe (Gilmore Girls). You’ve got that, right?
And from the looks of it, half those people make an appearance in the teaser trailer that Amazon released today, each claiming their royal lineage. The word “Romanoff” is mentioned so many times in a row that it stops sounding like a real word less than 15 seconds into the trailer, and if all those conflicting genealogical claims don’t establish high enough dramatic stakes, the building tension of the Tchaikovsky in the background certainly does the trick.
Weiner wrote, directed and executive produced the new series. Previously, he’s won nine Emmys for his work on Mad Men and The Sopranos.
The first episode of The Romanoffs will star Marthe Keller, Aaron Eckhart, Ines Melab and Louise Bourgoin, and is set to premiere on Oct. 12. Watch Amazon’s teaser trailer for the new series below.