Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow Might Be Coming to FX

JESUITS! IN! SPAAAACE!

Per Variety, Queen’s Gambit co-creator, director, and showrunner Scott Frank is adapting Mary Doria Russell’s classic novel, The Sparrow, for FX. Frank is said to be “writing every episode” of the limited series, with Johan Renck, late of Chernobyl and Breaking Bad on board to direct, and Better Call Saul’s Mark Johnson joining as executive producer.

The Sparrow was published in 1996, and was immediately hailed as a modern classic. Set in a near-future, the novel follows a Jesuit priest, Emilio Sandoz, the only survivor of a mission to the newly-discovered planet Rakhat. When Father Sandoz left for his mission, there was talk of canonizing him. But when we meet him, he is mentally shattered, physically mutilated… and don’t even get him started on God.

So, what happened on Rakhat? Where are the rest of the crew? How did everything go so terribly, terribly wrong?

No news of casting yet, but one of The Sparrow‘s strengths is its diverse set of characters: Emilio Sandoz is a Puerto Rican linguist of Taino descent, Sofia Mendez is a Jewish AI specialist from Turkey, married couple George and Ann Edwards are a retired engineer and doctor, respectively, who are essentially later-in-life hippies, and they’re joined by computer scientist and much-needed goofball Jimmy Quinn. Sandoz’ fellow Jesuits could each star in a book of their own. And I haven’t even gotten to the aliens yet. In addition to the casting potential, the work is a dense and moving exploration of faith, trauma, and how sometimes people with the best intentions in the universe can cause problems they never imagined. And somehow it’s also hilarious?

There was one prior attempt to adapt the novel. In 2006 Back in 2006, Brad Pitt’s company, Plan B acquired the rights, and got as far as developing a script, but the project eventually stalled. Hopefully this one will complete its mission!

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