The 'War And Peace' Cast Makes This Latest Miniseries Adaptation A Must-See

Even if you aren't a fan of literature, you have most likely heard of Leo Tolstoy's epic War and Peace. Andrew Davies took on the brutal task of adapting the story of Russian aristocracy during the Napoleonic wars into a miniseries, and thankfully the talented writer has an equally talented cast in War and Peace . While the four-part miniseries will air on Lifetime, A&E, and History simultaneously starting on Jan. 18, War and Peace was actually created by the U.K.'s BBC One, which helps explain the plethora of British actors featured in the series.

Although British people are at an advantage since War and Peace has already started airing (in six parts) in the U.K., Americans have yet to see stars of the small and big screens take on the 2016 adaptation. However, this isn't the first time big-name actors have portrayed characters from Tolstoy's work. Back in 1956, Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, and Mel Ferrer starred in a movie adaptation of the novel. Anthony Hopkins portrayed Pierre in a 20-episode TV version in 1972 and Malcolm McDowell and Clémence Poésy were in a 2007 War and Peace miniseries.

For those unfamiliar with the contents of the 1,200-page book, prep yourself by learning about the characters that will be featured in the miniseries and the actors who play them this time around before tuning into War and Peace on Jan. 18 at 9 p.m.

Paul Dano As Pierre Bezukhov

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The resident American in the miniseries is none other than Paul Dano, who leads the period drama as Pierre, an awkward man who unexpectedly inherits a fortune. Dano received a Golden Globe nomination this year for his turn as the young Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy and has been starring in quality films, like Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, and 12 Years A Slave, throughout his entire career.

Lily James As Natasha Rostov

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Lily James became a bonafide star recently thanks to her role as cousin Rose in Downton Abbey and Cinderella in the Disney live-action 2015 film directed by Kenneth Branagh. In War and Peace, she takes on the role of the young and attractive Natasha Rostov that Hepburn played back in 1956.

James Norton As Andrei Bolkonsky

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The British actor James Norton may not be a household name to Americans currently, but his turn as Andrei Bolkonsky may change that. His character serves in the military and falls in love with Natasha after his wife dies. Though most familiar for his roles on British TV, Norton has had small parts in the films An Education, Rush, and Belle.

Gillian Anderson As Anna Pavlovna

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With War and Peace and the reboot of The X-Files, Gillian Anderson is already having a busy and buzzworthy 2016. As she returns to her role of Scully in the six-part miniseries of The X-Files , she'll also be portraying Anna Pavlovna, a wealthy hostess with a penchant for matchmaking, in War and Peace. The American-born Anderson was raised in England and has found continued success in both the U.S. and the U.K. with TV series like Hannibal and The Fall.

Jim Broadbent As Prince Bolkonsky

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Perhaps one of my favorite British character actors of all time, Jim Broadbent is lending his talents to War and Peace as the elder Prince Bolkonsky, Andrei's father. The likable actor has a knack for playing unlikable characters and will prove to be a deterrent in the romantic relationship of Natasha and Andrei. With roles in both fan favorites — like Bridget Jones's Diary (which was also written by Davies), Moulin Rouge!, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince— and acclaimed projects — like Iris, Longford, and Brooklyn — Broadbent elevates almost any movie or show he is in.

Greta Scacchi As Countess Natalya Rostov

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As Natasha's mom Countess Natalya Rostov, Greta Scacchi attempts to uphold her status even while her family has lost their wealth. Scacchi will be a familiar face to people who love period dramas since she was in The Odyssey with Armand Assante, Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow, and Brideshead Revisited with Emma Thompson.

Stephen Rea As Prince Vassily Kuragin

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Stephen Rea will play a villain in War and Peace as Prince Vassily Kuragin, who is intent on setting up his children with financially beneficial marriages. Rea is a notable British actor who has been in the films Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire, V for Vendetta, and Breakfast on Pluto. Not to mention, the actor was nominated for an Academy Award for the 1992 film The Crying Game.

Tuppence Middleton As Helene Kuragin

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Vassily's daughter Helene Kuragin is just as calculating as her father and decides she should marry Pierre. Helene also has an incest plotline, but actress Tuppence Middleton is no stranger to scandalous roles since she was a lead in the provocative Netflix series Sense8. The up-and-coming actress was also in films The Imitation Game and Jupiter Ascending.

Brian Cox As General Kutuzov

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Another accomplished British actor in War and Peace is Brian Cox as General Kutuzov, a leader in the Russian military. Cox is mostly known for his roles in dramas since he was in the Royal Shakespeare Company and in films like Braveheart, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and Troy. However, he has shown that he also has a sense of humor thanks to his turn in Super Troopers.

With a balance of emerging and established skilled actors, as well as screenwriting from Davies, get ready to be completely wowed by this adaptation of War and Peace throughout all four parts.

Image: Mitch Jenkins/Lifetime