HBO unveiled the release date (November 4th!) for its upcoming fantasy series His Dark Materials earlier this week, and today, Entertainment Weekly has some additional details about the upcoming adaptation of Philip Pullman’s classic series.
For those unfamiliar: the series is set in an alternate Earth where peoples’ souls manifest as shape-shifting animals (known as “daemons”). The first novel, The Golden Compass, followed a young girl named Lyra, who began searching for a kidnapped friend, and stumbled into a horrific plot hatched by her world’s domineering Church. Last September, HBO and BBC studios announced that they had renewed the series for a second season.
EW‘s article takes a closer look at the upcoming first season, and provides some new details about what to expect. Here’s what we learned from it:
- The series will move quickly. Each episode takes place in a different location, following Lyra from Oxford to the Arctic Circle.
- The cast and crew of the series are big fans of the books. Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lee Scoresby) described shooting the series as a “vacation,” while James McAvoy (Lord Asriel) says that he loved the books and was “more protective over Asriel than any other role.”
- Ruth Wilson sought to bring something new to her antagonist, Mrs. Coulter. Wilson apparently hadn’t read the books, but wanted to “create something new,” and notes that “You’re always confused by what her motives are and who she really is.” That might explain some of the other changes to the character — who appears to have brown hair in the series, as opposed to being a blonde in the books.
- Each season will tackle a new book. Up until now, HBO and the BBC haven’t explained how the series will progress, but EW says that the first season will cover the events of The Golden Compass (which we knew from the trailers) and Season 2 will cover the events of The Subtle Knife. The plan is that a third season will cover the events of the final novel, The Amber Spyglass.
- The series might depart a bit from the books. EW notes that “the serialized format also grants leeway to expand on Pullman’s saga,” due in part to Lyra actress Dafne Keen, who could only work a certain number of hours each day. “Producers have found other threads to follow.”
- The series might also include bits of The Book of Dust. In 2017, Pullman released his long-awaited followup to His Dark Materials, The Book of Dust, a new trilogy set before and after the series. According to McAvoy, the first season “might have a little bit, like a minute of extra material, that comes from The Book of Dust, but that’s about it.”
- Season 2 has already begun production, and has cast Andrew Scott as Colonel John Parry / Doctor Stanislaus Grumman from The Subtle Knife. He’s the father of Will Parry, who accidentally traveled to Lyra’s world, where he became a famous scientist.
- Don’t expect Game of Thrones-levels of sex and violence. “I can say that I am very, very, very glad I’m making His Dark Materials and not an adult, X-rated, male-orientated piece of fantasy,” says Jane Tranter, the BBC executive overseeing the series.