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(Photo: Neal Street Productions/Carnival/NBCUniversal/Thirteen)

The second cycle of The Hollow Crown previewed at a press screening this week in London, and reports suggest Benedict Cumberbatch steals the show.

He plays Richard III, or the Duke of York’s third son as he’s known at the beginning of the film trilogy. In it the reign of Henry VI, depicted by Shakespeare in the plays Henry VI Part One, Part Two and Part Three, will be adapted into two two-hour films, followed by a final film adapting Richard III.

Jasper Rees of The Telegraph saw the screening on Tuesday and described Benedict’s performance as “dazzling,” saying “he outrageously steals every scene he’s in,” even confiding his darkest secrets to camera, like a medieval Frank Underwood.

The producers certainly aren’t pulling any punches: while the first Hollow Crown cycle starred, oh, y’know, Ben Whishaw, Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons, the cast of the latest trilogy is a veritable who’s who of British stage and screen stars not seen since a certain young wizard tipped up at Hogwarts.

See what we mean:

That’s right: Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) is getting his iambic pentameter on as the young Henry VI’s usurper-uncle the Duke of Gloucester, alongside Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), Judi Dench (Spectre, Philomena), Anton Lesser (Wolf Hall), Keeley Hawes (High Rise, Doctor Who), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Tom Sturridge (The Boat That Rocked) and Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda), all amidst levels of gore and intrigue we’ve come to expect from Game of Thrones—and then, if that wasn’t bad enough, lurking in the shadows is the future Richard III, played by the beneficent Benedict.

Despite having a comparatively small part in the two films about Henry VI, Richard comes into his own in the third film of the trilogy, which depicts his bloodthirsty rise to power and short-lived hold on the English throne.

All three films are due to air in the U.K. in May as part of wider celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. There’s no sign yet of a U.S. release, though the original installment went out in 2013 on PBS.

We’ve got our eyes and our ears peeled, though—and we’ll let you know here as soon as we hear anything.

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By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.