Jeremy Irons is to star in the epic drama series as Rodrigo Borgia, "the cunning, manipulative patriarch of The Borgia family who ascends to the highest circles of power within Renaissance-era Italy," the network said in a release.
Irons' films include "Reversal of Fortune," "The Mission," "The Lion King," "The Man in the Iron Mask," and "The Merchant of Venice."
Irish film director Neil Jordan is to create and executive produce the series as well as direct the first two episodes.
"Having blazed a trail with the award-winning 'The Tudors,' we wanted to continue to offer our audience a period drama as wicked, witty, and utterly compelling -- and that's what 'The Borgias' will be," Robert Greenblatt, Showtime's president of entertainment, said in a statement. "I can guarantee you've never seen a family quite like this before, nor could you make up the outrageous twists and turns of their epic saga if your life depended on it. The directorial mastery of Neil Jordan along with Michael Hirst's flair for bringing historical dramas vividly to life for a contemporary audience will make 'The Borgias' unlike anything else on television."
The series is to go into production this spring for a debut in early 2011.