‘Game Of Thrones’ Star Aidan Gillen to Play Army Marshall in Irish Gaelic Epic ‘The O’Neill’
Game of Thrones alum Aidan Gillen has been tapped to play one of the leads in The O’Neill, an Irish Gaelic epic based on the legendary Hugh O’Neill, the former Earl best known for leading the resistance during the Nine Years’ War.
Vikings director Stephen Saint Leger is set to helm the pilot and several future episodes should the series be picked up. The original concept for the show was thought up by Revolution Media’s Jack Armstrong, who will present the series on Tuesday at Conecta Fiction’s Pitch Copro Series, an international pitching session. Tim Loane (Versailles) will serve as showrunner.
Intended as four eight-hour seasons, The O’Neill revolves around Ireland’s powerful O’Neill dynasty, focusing on the story of Hugh O’Neill, who, in 1560, is taken as a 9-year-old from his native Ireland and groomed as an English Lord at the English Court. It is there where he develops a close bond with the future Queen Elizabeth I.
After returning to Ireland once coming of age to govern for the crown, O’Neill must make the biggest decision of his life: become an English landlord or a Gaelic warlord. His decision would bring about the greatest threat to England’s sovereignty until the Second World War.
Gillen, who is best known for his roles as Tommy Carcetti in The Wire and Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish in Game of Thrones, will play Sir Henry Bagnal, Marshall of Elizabeth I’s Royal Irish Army and O’Neill’s bitter arch-nemesis.
“This is big, ambitious epic, but also based on real characters and events, and also contemporary, resonating with many of the values emerging in Europe today,” Armstrong told Variety. “Hugh O’Neill managed to unite the clans, which had never happened before, and engaged in what was called the Nine Years War but was really the climax of a 400 years war with England, the last gasp of great Gaelic Ireland.”
Loane, who referred to the series as “Braveheart for television,” stated, “Almost always the narrative is the glory of Empire from the colonists’ perspective; we will do a 180 on the period and view events through the eyes of the vanquished, the colonized, of Gaelic Ireland.”
According to Armstrong, the pilot has already been written alongside a bible for the first season and a storyline outline for the subsequent three seasons.
The O’Neill, TBA