The past comes alive in this exclusive new trailer for Spike’s event miniseries, Tut, which chronicles the brief reign of one of Ancient Egypt’s most famous pharaohs, Tutankhamun. And Tut co-star Sir Ben Kingsley says that he felt deeply connected to history while shooting the series on location in Morocco. “While we were filming, we found more evidence of Tutankhamun’s death, his physical ailments, and all kinds of extraordinary details,” the Oscar-winning actor reveals to Yahoo TV. “And a lot of the stuff that was found, [including] the contents of his tomb, are replicated beautifully in Tut. The Ancient Egyptians were committed to the idea of immortality, and they achieved it. Because we are using what they left behind and are putting it on the screen.”
In the six-hour miniseries, which premieres July 19, Kingsley plays Vizer Ay, who served as a mentor to the boy-king (portrayed as an adult by Avon Jogia) upon his ascension to power. And Tut needs a reliable mentor, because he’s inheriting a kingdom filled with fragile relationships amongst groups who are staunchly opposed to change. Even Ay has his own agenda, one that befits a man of non-royal lineage who fought hard to secure his prominent position. “He’s a man who very much wanted to join the royal club and succeeds because of great skill and great intelligence, as well as pitting rival factions against each other.” In fact, some historians suggest that Ay — who succeeded Tut as pharaoh — may have had a hand in hastening the young man’s death, a detail that Kingsley will neither confirm nor deny. “I spent my days on set trying to be inscrutable, and I will remain so,” he says, jokingly. (At least, we think he’s joking.)
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With its emphasis on behind-the-throne political maneuvering and battling factions vying for power, the Tut trailer can’t help but bring to mind Game of Thrones and Kingsley says that the comparison isn’t off-base. “Even though that show is fictitious, it’s still dealing with the same extraordinary mix of ingredients: personalities fighting for supremacy within families and power groups.” (Tut also shares two actors in common with Game of Thrones: Nonso Anozie played Xaro Xhoan Daxos in Season 2 of the HBO series and here portrays Horemheb, the general of King Tut’s army, who later followed both Tut and Ay as pharaoh. And Alexander Siddig, who plays High Priest Amun, can currently be seen on Game of Thrones as Dornish prince, Doran Martell.) But Kingsley is also quick to say that Tut remains very much its own series. “I was doing some additional dialogue recording for the series the other day, and even in its rough form, it was exciting to see. The authority in the details of the sets and costumes gives it a massive canvas. It does look absolutely magnificent.”
Tut premieres July 19 at 9 p.m. on Spike.