PBS unveiled the cast and directors for upcoming Civil War drama “Mercy Street” on Wednesday.
Roxann Dawson and Jeremy Webb will direct Josh Radnor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Gary Cole, Peter Gerety, Norbert Leo Butz, McKinley Belcher III, Shalita Grant, Hannah James, Cherry Jones and others on the upcoming six-part series, which is executive produced by Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker of Scott Free, as well as Lisa Q. Wolfinger and David Zabel.
Filmed on location in Virginia, “Mercy Street” will be the first American drama to air on PBS in more than a decade. The series will join the final season of “Downton Abbey” in winter 2016 on “Masterpiece.”
Dean Devlin‘s Electric Entertainment secured all foreign rights to the series early in the process, and will continue to sell international territories.
Here is the description of the main cast and their respective characters, in PBS’s own words:
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Nurse Mary Phinney, a feisty New Englander and widow who is a newcomer at Mansion House Hospital.
- Josh Radnor as Jedediah Foster, the civilian contract surgeon who grew up in a privileged Southern slave-owning household as the son of a wealthy Maryland landowner.
- Gary Cole as James Green, Sr., patriarch of the Green family, struggling to maintain his family business while living in an occupied city.
- Peter Gerety as Dr. Alfred Summers, chief surgeon at Mansion House, who has risen to the rank of major by virtue of his age, not skill.
- Norbert Leo Butz as Dr. Byron Hale, an old-school army surgeon who lives life by the book. While Hale has an eye for the nurses, he has an ongoing relationship with Nurse Anne Reading.
- McKinley Belcher III as Samuel Diggs, a black laborer harboring a secret knowledge and ability in medicine, which he learned as a boy servant.
- Shalita Grant as Aurelia Johnson, a beautiful, stoical ‘contraband’ working as a laundress at the hospital, and trying to bury her past.
- Newcomer Hannah James as Emma Green, an entitled Southern young woman who volunteers as a nurse at Mansion House Hospital, the facility established on the site of her family’s luxury hotel.
- Cherry Jones, guest star, as Dorothea Dix, known as “Miss Dix,” the formidable superintendent of Union Army nurses.
Also starring on “Mercy Street” are Jack Falahee as Frank Stringfellow; AnnaSophia Robb as Alice Green; Cameron Monaghan as Tom Fairfax; Donna Murphy as Jane Green; Tara Summers as Anne Hastings; L. Scott Caldwell as Belinda; Suzanne Bertish as Matron Brannan; Wade Williams as Silas Bullen; Luke Macfarlane as Chaplain Hopkins; and up-and-coming actor Brad Koed as James Green, Jr.
“Mercy Street” follows the lives of two volunteer nurses on opposing sides of the Civil War — New England abolitionist Mary Phinney and Confederate supporter Emma Green. The Green family’s luxury hotel in Alexandria, Va., has been transformed into Mansion House, a Union Army hospital tending to the war’s wounded. Inspired by memoirs and letters from real doctors and nurse volunteers at Mansion House Hospital, this new drama reveals the stories of those struggling to save lives while managing their own hardships.
“It’s an honor to be able to tell the exciting stories of real experiences and struggles of the war,” said Beth Hoppe, chief programming executive and general manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “I know this talented and diverse cast and crew will be able to bring ‘Mercy Street’ to life on screen. We will tell the story of what it was like in Alexandria, Virginia — the crossroads of the Civil War — by delving into the multifaceted lives of those in the hospital wards.”
Zucker added, “We’re thrilled to welcome these amazingly talented directors and actors to the set of ‘Mercy Street,’ which tells the story of one of America’s most tumultuous times … . In their capable hands, this multi-layered story will be brought to life in a completely fresh and engaging series, including introducing two up-and-coming young cast members.”