Claire Danes may have only recently finished one TV series in the form of Homeland, but she’s quickly signed on to lead another. The Emmy winner will star in The Essex Serpent for Apple.
Based on Sarah Perry‘s 2016 novel, the story follows Cora, a newly widowed woman who, having survived an abusive marriage, decides to relocate from Victorian London to the small village of Aldwinter in Essex. Once she’s there, she becomes intrigued by a local superstition that a mythical creature known as the Essex Serpent has returned to the area.
Clio Bernard (The Selfish Giant) will direct the series, while Anna Symon (Mrs. Wilson) will serve as lead writer.
This project was actually in the works last year with Kiera Knightley in the lead role, but she dropped out due to COVID-19 concerns. While it would have made more sense for the actually English Knightley to play (presumably) an English woman, Danes is just as good of an actress, and also has experience leading a TV show, so it’d hard to imagine much of a drop off, if any.
It’s somewhat surprising that Danes is leaping into a TV series so soon after Homeland concluded, if only because that schedule was so grueling that she was barely able to be in any other projects during the show’s eight-year run. Her only other roles during that time were a few indie films like Brigsby Bear and a one-off appearance in Aziz Ansari‘s Master Of None.
This sounds like an interesting show, and with Bernard at the helm – The Selfish Giant is a Ken Loach-esque slice of British kitchen sink drama – The Essex Serpent should feel distinctly British, even with an American in the lead.
This is just the latest TV show Apple are developing. The rest of their slate includes the spy thriller Slow Horses with Gary Oldman, action-thriller Echo 3 from Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal, an adaptation of bestselling novel Shantaram with Charlie Hunnam, and thriller Suspicion with Uma Thurman.