‘Archie’ preview: First look at Jason Isaacs as Cary Grant in ITV’s new drama

ITV has released the first images from its upcoming series about the life of Cary Grant!

Archie will tell the story of Hollywood’s greatest leading man, who starred in classic movies like Notorious, North By Northwest, and To Catch a Thief.

Written by Jeff Pope (Mrs Biggs, Philomena, Stan & Ollie), the brand new period drama is coming soon on ITV’s streaming service ITVX in the UK, and on BritBox in the US.

Leading the cast as Archie Leech – better known by the name Cary Grant – is Jason Isaacs, who Harry Potter fans will recognise as the villainous Lucius Malfoy.

We weren’t sure about this casting decision when it was originally announced to be honest, but we’re happy to be proved wrong – he certainly looks the part!

You might also have seen the 60-year-old English actor from his roles in Operation MincemeatBlack Hawk Down, Peter Pan, Star Trek: Discovery, and last year’s lovely period drama Mrs Harris Goes to Paris.

“There was only one Cary Grant and I’d never be foolish enough to try to step into his iconic shoes,” commented Jason Isaacs last year.

“Archie Leach, on the other hand, couldn’t be further from the character he invented to save himself.

“Jeff’s brilliant scripts bring to life his relentless struggle to escape the demons that plagued him, his obsessive need for control, his fears, his weaknesses, his loves and his losses. It’s the story of a man, not a legend, and those are shoes I can’t wait to walk in,” he explained.

The four-parter will reveal how “deceit, cruelty and one, overpowering lie” shaped Cary Grant’s life.

Isaacs will be joined by Laura Aikman (Gavin and Stacey) playing his ex-wife Dyan Cannon, with Harriet Walter (Downton Abbey) as his mother, Elsie Leach.

Mr Selfridge star Kara Tointon plays young Elsie, while Dainton Anderson (Patrick Melrose), Calam Lynch (Bridgerton) and Oaklee Pendergast (Home) portray younger versions of Archie Leach at various ages.

Other familiar faces in the cast include Jason Watkins (The Crown), Niamh Cusack (The Virtues), Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Ragdoll), Ian Puleston-Davies (DI Ray), Ian McNeice (Doc Martin), and Lisa Faulkner (EastEnders).

The official synopsis for Archie reads: “Born in Bristol, England in 1904, to parents Elsie and Elias, Archie narrates the story of a young Archibald Alexander Leach’s troubled childhood and how extreme poverty, his father’s adultery and the loss of his older brother, John, tore the family apart and sent his loving mother into a downward spiral of grief and depression.

“At 14 he auditioned for the music hall act, the Bob Pender Troupe, a band of acrobats, stilt walkers, clown and comedians after seeing them perform at the Bristol Hippodrome. Lean and athletic, he learned the art of stilt walking, and when the troupe went on tour to the US, teenage Archie was intoxicated by the land of opportunity. Believing he had no family to return to in the UK, he decided to stay in the US to try to make his way in showbusiness.

“With no thoughts of acting, a chance meeting with the comedian George Burns helped him find his first footing on the acting ladder and a contract with a movie studio who felt he needed to change his name, and Cary Grant was born.

“The drama intercuts with scenes from 1961 when at the height of his fame, living in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, the legendary actor was breaking all box office records, but desperately unhappy in his private life.

“With two failed marriages behind him, he began to woo a young actress he’d seen on a TV show, Dyan Cannon. Thirty three years his junior, Dyan, didn’t initially fall for his charms turning down his attempts to meet, because she didn’t feel they could ever be a match.

“Dashingly handsome, suave and sophisticated, Cary continued to pursue her, with introductions to his famous friends, Alfred Hitchcock and Doris Day until they eventually wed in Las Vegas in 1965.”

Cary Grant’s daughter, Jennifer Grant, who was interviewed extensively by screenwriter Jeff Pope when he began working on the project, has given the project her blessing.

“My father was an extremely private man, so naturally, when Jeff Pope approached me with the idea to write Dad’s life story, I was trepidatious at best,” she revealed.

“Jeff’s thoughtfully intelligent understanding of Dad’s boyhood won me over. My father’s formative years as Archie Leach in Bristol, England, and the extraordinary challenges he faced, lie at the heart of Archie.”

Archie will premiere in 2023 on new streaming service ITVX in the UK, and on BritBox in the US.

It’ll air on ITV’s main channel a few months later.

Cary Grant: The Collection is available on DVD on Amazon.