BBC One’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is starting to come together: Deadline reports that director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) has signed on to helm what will be an eight-part television series, and two major roles have been filled. Dafne Keen, the breakout star of Logan, will play alethiometer-consulting orphan Lyra Belacqua, while Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda will play cowboy Lee Scoresby.
Jack Thorne, writer of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is scripting the adaptation. The BBC’s official synopsis for the series implies that the eight-part adaptation will span all three books:
Northern Lights introduces Lyra, an orphan, who lives in a parallel universe in which science, theology and magic are entwined. Lyra’s search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, and turns into a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust.
In The Subtle Knife she is joined on her journey by Will, a boy who possesses a knife that can cut windows between worlds. As Lyra learns the truth about her parents and her prophesied destiny, the two young people are caught up in a war against celestial powers that ranges across many worlds and leads to a thrilling conclusion in The Amber Spyglass.
Is eight hours enough time to properly delve into the entire trilogy? New Line Cinema didn’t follow through on its planned movie trilogy after its 2007 adaptation of The Golden Compass (the U.S. title for Northern Lights) was widely panned for a messy story, excellent acting notwithstanding.
Keen is an excellent choice for Lyra, after she wowed Logan audiences as X-23. Miranda playing Lee Scoresby reflects other similar supporting roles he’s taken on since leaving Hamilton, like in the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns. The Daily Dot’s Gavia Baker-Whitelaw accurately summed up the Internet response to Miranda’s casting:
i like how every His Dark Materials fan is going thru the same thought process of:
1. Lin-Manuel Miranda is playing LEE SCORESBY?? a grizzled cowboy adventurer??
2. oh shit. oh shit. he'll act opposite HESTER. we're all gonna die.
— Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor) March 9, 2018
Speaking of, we’ll be curious to see how the series handles the dæmons. The New Line movie did a handy job with the CGI creatures, and the technology has only improved—though it would be interesting if they went the motion-capture route…
The series will be produced by Bad Wolf’s Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, to be broadcast in the UK by BBC Worldwide. They’re still in talks for a U.S. distributor, but Deadline mentions both Apple and Netflix being contenders. While pre-production is expected to start this fall, there’s currently no premiere date set.