Ridley Scott’s Civil War Drama Comes to PBS

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Mercy Street
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Nurse Mary Phinney and Josh Radnor as Jedediah Foster. Courtesy of Antony Platt/PBS

With the overwhelming success of his historical dramas, such as Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, and Wolf Hall, PBS is finally bringing the drama back to America in their new series, Mercy Street. The Civil War-based series will be directed by Roxann Dawson and Jeremy Webb.

Filmed on location in Virginia, the six-part series is the first American drama to air on PBS in more than a decade. The series will join a Sunday night drama lineup on PBS in winter 2016, including the final season of “Downton Abbey” on MASTERPIECE.

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, Virginia, 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.”

The series, which commenced production this month, is shot in the Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia, areas.

MERCY STREET cast in leading roles includes:

  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“The Returned,” “Smashed,” The Spectacular Now) as Nurse Mary Phinney, a feisty New Englander and widow who is a newcomer at Mansion House Hospital.
  • Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother,” Liberal Arts, Broadway’s Disgraced) 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 (“Veep,” “The Good Wife,” “Entourage”) as James Green, Sr., patriarch of the Green family, struggling to maintain his family business while living in an occupied city.
  • Peter Gerety (Syriana, Charlie Wilson’s War, Flight, God’s Pocket, “The Wire,” “Prime Suspect”) 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 (“Bloodline”) 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 (“Power,” “Madam Secretary,” “Chicago PD,” “Show Me A Hero”) as Samuel Diggs, a black laborer harboring a secret knowledge and ability in medicine, which he learned as a boy servant.
  • Shalita Grant (“NCIS: New Orleans,” “Bones”) 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 (“24”), guest star, as Dorothea Dix, known as “Miss Dix,” the formidable superintendent of Union Army nurses.
  • Also starring in MERCY STREET are Jack Falahee (“How to Get Away With Murder”) as Frank Stringfellow; AnnaSophia Robb (“The Carrie Diaries,” The Way, Way Back, Bridge to Terabithia) as Alice Green; Cameron Monaghan (“Shameless”) as Tom Fairfax; Donna Murphy (“Resurrection,” “Hindsight,” Broadway’s Passion, The King and I) as Jane Green; Tara Summers (“Stalker,” “Rake,” “Boston Legal”) as Anne Hastings; L. Scott Caldwell (“Southland,” “Lost,” “ER,” The Fugitive) as Belinda; Suzanne Bertish (“Rome”) as Matron Brannan; Wade Williams (“Prison Break,” Draft Day) as Silas Bullen; Luke Macfarlane (“Brothers and Sisters,” “Over There”) as Chaplain Hopkins; and up-and-coming actor Brad Koed as James Green, Jr.

Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment secured all foreign rights to the series early in the process, and will continue to sell international territories. For more on the series, visit PBS.org.

 

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