William Hurt, the Academy Award winning American actor, will star in a new adaptation of Beowulf. 64-year-old Hurt is best known for his roles in such films as A History of Violence, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and Winter's Tale. The 13-part drama Hurt will star in has been commissioned by ITV and is due to begin filming in Durham and Northumberland later this month.

William Hurt
William Hurt will star in Beowulf.

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The legend of Beowulf, based on the Old English poem of the same name, is set in the dark ages. Hurt will play King Hrothgar, the King of the Danes, whose kingdom is terrorised by the monster Grendel. Beowulf, a warrior from Geatland, defeats Grendel and Grendel's mother after she seeks revenge for her son's death. 

Beowulf has been frequently adapted into film and television productions. One of the most recent, big-budget adaptations was a motion capture computer animated film released in 2007. Anthony Hopkins played King Hrothgar in the adaptation, directed by Robert Zemeckis. 

Beowulf will be played by Kieran Bew, best known for his role as Alfonso, Duke of Calabria in Da Vinci's Demons. Joanne Whalley, who has recently appeared in such period dramas as The Borgias and Wolf Hall, has also been cast in Beowulf

James Dormer, the show's writer and executive producer, explained the continual appeal of Beowulf. 

"Hundreds of years ago our ancestors listened to the story of Beowulf because it was a great adventure story - it scared them, thrilled them, made them laugh and cry," Dormer said, as ITV reports. "But they also listened because they recognised themselves and their fears in it. By holding a mirror up to them this story helped define them and thus - us. So it's incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to make it relevant again for a wide audience - to let them own it again. To let them see themselves in it."

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