Archie: US release date, cast, plot and everything we know about the Cary Grant biopic

Archie - Cary Grant in a grey suit and red tie stands in front of a window.
Archie — Hollywood legend Cary Grant's tumultuous life is the subject of a new drama. (Image credit: Alamy)

Archie is a four-part drama that explores the life of Hollywood legend Cary Grant.

The series sees Jason Isaacs take the role of the effortlessly suave film star. 

He says: "I had a notion of him and initially that made me not want the job because he was the epitome of sophistication, cool and suavity and I’m not that! 

"Then I read the script and every biography and thought, ‘That I can play, that's a very complicated, troubled, damaged and damaging human being.’ I was terrified because there's only one Cary Grant, but Cary Grant was a character he created and even he struggled to play him, so that made it easier." 

He adds: "He battled dark things but he also was funny and charming. When he arrived in Hollywood, he wanted to climb that greasy pole and stay there as long as he could, and he built a persona from scratch to succeed in the career he’d chosen, but also to build himself a wall of protection." 

Here’s everything we know about Archie

Jason Isaacs with dark glasses and in a dark suit as Cary Grant in Archie.

Jason Isaacs bears an uncanny resemblance to Cary Grant in biopic Archie. (Image credit: ITV)

Archie release date

Archie will be available on BritBox in the US from Thursday December 7.

Archie is now available on ITVX in the UK. The drama will also air at a later date on ITV1. 

Cary Grant in North By Northwest in a grey suit running through a field chased by a plane

Cary Grant showed his star quality in Hitchcock's North By Northwest. (Image credit: Alamy/MGM)

Archie — what is the plot?

The drama explores the private life of Cary Grant, who was born Archibald Leach in Bristol in 1904 to Elsie and Elias. It explores his difficult childhood in which he experienced poverty, the consequences of his father’s adultery and the fallout from the loss of his older brother John, which led his beloved mother to become depressed.

It looks at how a 14-year-old Archie auditioned for the music hall act and became an expert stilt walker. As the troupe went on tour to the US, teenage Archie stayed there and tried to make his way in show business. Veteran comic George Burns helped him get his first break as an actor and he was soon contracted to a movie studio, where he changed his name to Cary Grant.

The drama also examines Cary’s later life in 1961, when he is living in LA and his career has gone stratospheric after starring in hit films such as The Philadelphia Story, North by Northwest and To Catch A Thief

Jason Isaacs in blue pyjamas as Cary Grant looks pensive sitting on a yellow sofa on a patio in Archie.

The Hollywood dream becomes a mixed blessing for Cary Grant (Jason Isaacs) in Archie. (Image credit: ITV)

Cary’s private life starts falling apart after two failed marriages, but a young TV actress, Dyan Cannon, catches his eye. She initially rejects him, but Cary is determined to make her his wife and introduces her to his Hollywood pals Alfred Hitchcock and Doris Day before eventually marrying her in 1965. 

Jason Isaacs in a yellow shirt as Cary Grant sits at a table with food in front of him and a palm tree behind him in Archie.

Cary Grant (Jason Isaacs) has a colourful love life in Archie. (Image credit: ITV)

The series is penned by award-winning writer Jeff Pope, whose credits including Mrs Biggs, Cilla and A Confession.

“As with many of my projects, I started at the end and worked backwards. I discovered that, at the height of his fame, Cary Grant retired to look after his young daughter," says Jeff. "Intrigued, I started to dig into why he had become a single father. What had happened?  My journey led me to Bristol, and a young boy called Archie Leach. Cary Grant became one of the most iconic figures of the twentieth century, beloved by presidents and paupers. The key to everything lay in his childhood.” 

Jason Isaacs in a blue suit and shirt

Jason Isaacs plays Cary Grant in Archie. (Image credit: Getty)

Jason Isaacs as Cary Grant in a patterned dressing gown sits on a yellow sunbed on the phone by the pool in Archie.

Hollywood calls for Cary Grant (Jason Isaacs) in Archie. (Image credit: ITV)

Archie — who is in the cast?

The series sees Harry Potter and Good Sam star Jason Isaacs take on the role of Cary Grant.

"There was only one Cary Grant and I'd never be foolish enough to try to step into his iconic shoes," says Jason. "Archie Leach, on the other hand, couldn't be further from the character he invented to save himself. Jeff's brilliant scripts bring to life his relentless struggle to escape the demons that plagued him, his obsessive need for control, his fears, his weaknesses, his loves and his losses. It's the story of a man, not a legend, and those are shoes I can’t wait to walk in."

Jason Isaacs in a blue dressing gown as Cary Grant stands in front of a background of mountains and sea holding a drink with his arms out in Archie.

Cary Grant (Jason Isaacs) lives a life of glamour in Archie. (Image credit: ITV)

Meanwhile Gavin & Stacey and Waterloo Road star Laura Aikman plays Dyan Cannon and Harriet Walter (Killing Eve, This Is Going to Hurt, Succession) portrays Archie/Cary's mother Elsie. 

In flashbacks, former EastEnders, Mr Selfridge and Strictly star Kara Tointon plays the young Elsie and Dainton Anderson (Patrick Melrose), Calam Lynch (Bridgerton) and Oaklee Pendergast (Home) play younger versions of Archie Leach.

Jennifer Grant in a brown snakeprint top.

Cary Grant's daughter Jennifer has been a consultant on new drama, Archie. (Image credit: Getty)

What else do we know?

The drama was made with the blessing of Cary Grant’s daughter, Jennifer Grant, and his ex-wife Dyan Cannon, who were both executive producers on the drama, and were interviewed by writer Jeff Pope as part of his research.

“My father was an extremely private man, so naturally, when Jeff Pope approached me with the idea to write Dad’s life story, I was trepidatious at best," says Jennifer.

"Jeff’s thoughtfully intelligent understanding of Dad’s boyhood won me over. My father’s formative years as Archie Leach in Bristol, England, and the extraordinary challenges he faced, lie at the heart of ‘Archie’. Cary Grant is emblematic of charm, wit and grace, but unknown to most are the enormous challenges he overcame to create himself.”

“Cary Grant touched the world with his charm, his grace and enduring vivacity, but few knew Archie Leach, the man I was fortunate to know intimately and marry,” adds Dyan. “I’m so grateful Jeff Pope has captured him so brilliantly on the page, and that Jason Isaacs will do the same on screen!”

Dyan Cannon in a black leather jacket and hat.

Cary Grant's ex-wife Dyan Cannon has spoken to writer Jeff Pope about drama Archie. (Image credit: Getty)
Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.