ITV says Hollywood star William Hurt will star alongside British actress Joanne Whalley in its new adaptation of the classic story Beowulf.

The pair play classic characters Hrothga and Rheda in the 13-part drama set in the mythical Shieldlands, where humans live alongside fantastical creatures.

Taking the lead as warrior hero Beowulf is British actor Kieran Bew, who’s previously starred in TV dramas such as The Street and Bletchley Circle. Also cast is Ed Speelers, better known as randy servant Jimmy Kent in Downton Abbey, and Ian Puleston-Davies (Coronation Street’s Owen Armstrong).

Beowulf is described by ITV as a series about courage, greed, betrayal, revenge, loyalty, power, and man versus wilderness.

Writer and executive producer James Dormer (Strike Back, Wallander, Outcast) says: “Hundreds of years ago our ancestors listened to the story of Beowulf because it was a great adventure story – it scared them, thrilled them, made them laugh and cry. But they also listened because they recognised themselves and their fears in it.

“So it’s incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to make it relevant again for a wide audience – to let them own it again. To let them see themselves in it.”

Beowulf will screen later in 2015.