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Here’s everything we know about the BBC’s big-budget Philip Pullman adaptation.
The long-awaited His Dark Materials TV series is finally on its way, with the first trailer arriving in February 2019. Philip Pullman‘s fantasy novels follow the adventures of a young girl, Lyra, who comes from a world where everyone has a talking animal “daemon.” The books move between parallel universes and tackle complex theological topics, which is probably why Hollywood couldn’t handle the Golden Compass movie in 2007.
The TV version already looks a lot more promising. Created by former Doctor Who producers Jane Trantor and Julie Gardner, the BBC series begins with an eight-episode first season. The first teaser trailer introduces an all-star cast including Logan star Dafne Keen, Lin Manuel Miranda, and James McAvoy.
The show filmed its first season in Wales, the BBC announced in 2018. According to the statement: “Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) will lead as director and helm the first two episodes with Dawn Shadforth (Danny Boyle’s Trust, Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head) directing episode three and Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood , Peaky Blinders) directing four and five, with other directors to be announced.”
His Dark Materials cast
The casting for this show is ridiculously good. Dafne Keen will play Lyra, a brave and independent girl who embarks on an epic journey. The young actress found her breakout role in Logan, universally praised for her performance as the mutant Laura Kinney.
James McAvoy and Ruth Wilson (Luthor) will play Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter, respectively, two of the most important characters in the series. The Wire actor Clarke Peters also joined the cast, playing the Master of Jordan College, the aging Oxford academic who adopted Lyra at a young age.
Ruta Gedmintas plays the witch Serafina Pekkala, Ariyon Bakare plays Lord Boreal, and James Cosmo plays the gyptian leader Farder Coram. As is often the case with BBC adaptations, the show has a more diverse cast than the book, racebending a few characters who were originally assumed to be white.
English actress Ruta Gedmintas (The Strain) will play the witch Serafina Pekkala.
His Dark Materials creative team
The producers have assembled an all-star creative team, although their choices may inspire some debate.
Prolific playwright and screenwriter Jack Thorne is the lead writer. His career began with gritty British dramas like Skins before moving to Hollywood projects in recent years. If you’re into YA fantasy, you probably know him from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This made him an obvious choice for His Dark Materials but also casts some doubt among fans. While the theatrical production of The Cursed Child is a massive commercial success, his script earned criticism in Harry Potter fandom. But if you’re worried about His Dark Materials, it’s worth remembering that he’ll adapt directly from the books.
Deadline reports that Tom Hooper will direct at least some of the series. He’s a high-profile choice, following a string of Oscar movies: The King’s Speech, Les Miserables, and The Danish Girl. Like Thorne, he earned mainstream acclaim with adaptations that weren’t wholly well-received by the core fanbase. For instance, people still remember Les Miserables for its bizarre cinematography and dubious vocal choices.
Essentially, Tom Hooper and Jack Thorne both remind us that mainstream success is separate from popularity among die-hard fans. However, Hooper’s experience with historical drama makes him an ideal choice for Lyra’s quasi-historical world.
His Dark Materials trailer
The teaser trailer for the new His Dark Materials series dropped on Feb. 24, 2019. You can watch it below.
His Dark Materials release date
There’s no official release date yet, but we expect the show to arrive in late 2019. It may arrive around the same time as Philip Pullman’s next book, The Secret Commonwealth, a sequel that begins with Lyra as a 20-year-old student, and comes out on Oct. 3.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested.