Director Kenneth Branagh and the starry cast of his new version of “Murder On the Orient Express” gathered in London on Friday to show off new footage from the upcoming adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit. Almost the entire ensemble cast, which includes Oscar winners Judi Dench and Penelope Cruz, “Star Wars” actress Daisy Ridley, BAFTA winner Olivia Colman and Tony winner Josh Gad, was on hand, with only Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer notable absentees.
They were later followed onstage by director Francis Lawrence, who introduced 18 minutes of footage from his upcoming spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” starring Jennifer Lawrence, which is currently shooting in London.
Branagh, who plays Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, introduced about 10 to 15 minutes of work-in-progress footage from the Fox film, saying: “This is the very first time any of this footage has been seen in this way. We’re very excited to share the promise and potential of this work.”
The footage featured four brief scenes that introduced the central characters, established the murder of one of them, and showed off the film’s epic vistas of snow-capped mountains. The footage was followed by the film’s trailer, which was first unveiled at CinemaCon in March.
Branagh and the cast spoke of the camaraderie on set, with Derek Jacobi, who plays the butler to Depp’s Edward Ratchett, describing the ensemble as having “a wonderful company feel about it.”
“What was very extraordinary was that we were all together,” added Dench, who plays Princess Dragomiroff. “It wasn’t like a film where you all do different bits. In this case we were all there all the time.”
Gad, who plays Depp’s assistant, said the backgrounds that were shot rolled by the windows of the on-set railway carriage during filming in England, “so it really felt like we were there.”
“I found myself going to the end of the train to watch the scenery go by as if I was on a real train, and I wasn’t the only one,” Branagh said, adding that the impression was so real to the cast and crew that it caused some ill effects. “Quite a few of us got motion sickness,” he said.
Gad said the production design was equally important to getting in character and into the story. “It was surreal. I just had the opportunity to go on the real Orient Express, and the detail that the production team brought is unreal, exquisite. It is so spot-on,” said Gad. “For us that intimacy really lends itself to Ken’s vision. When you’re in a confined environment, it creates a sense of unease, even if you have nothing to hide.”
The film, currently in post production and set for a Nov. 10 release, is the first big-screen treatment of Christie’s famous 1934 novel since Sidney Lumet’s 1974 version, which won a best supporting actress Oscar for Ingrid Bergman.
At the London event, Christie’s great-grandson James Prichard, who chairs the company that controls her estate, said the story was probably born of the prolific crime writer’s first trip on the legendary train in 1928 and that securing Branagh to direct and star was “awe-inspiring.” “He gets the grandeur of the work, and his vision as he first told it us made my hair stand up,” said Prichard.
Branagh said he made a conscious decision not to watch Lumet’s version, and that he had advised the cast also to avoid watching it. “Our goal is to try and find a new approach. That’s why classic stories are worth retelling,” he said, adding that “there are some surprises.”
Speaking later in the day about “Red Sparrow,” Francis Lawrence said he had about a week left to shoot on the film, which is due for release March 2, 2018.
The director said the film, which re-teams him for a fourth time with Jennifer Lawrence following the three “Hunger Games” sequels, was “definitely a hard R [rating].” He said the biggest thrill for him was working with Lawrence on a role that he described as “very brave and very different for her.”
“She was willing to take some risks in this movie I think she might not have been willing to do for someone she didn’t know,” said the director.
He also said the film’s Russian spy narrative became “more politically relevant the more we worked on it.” “One of the questions we had originally was that thematically it didn’t seem as relevant as it could, but that had completely changed in the past year. It rings very true now,” said Lawrence, who first read the book while in post production on the “Hunger Games: Mockingjay” films.
Although the film is based on the first book of a trilogy, he said there were currently no plans to do sequels. But he added: “If this were to work, it would be fantastic to do another one.”
David Tennant, who played the time-travelling alien from 2005-2010, told Radio 4’s The World at One that Olivia Colman would be a “magnificent” Doctor, and could take Capaldi’s place when the character next “regenerates”.
Colman and Tennant know each other well, having co-starred in ITV crime drama Broadchurch. The series was created by Chris Chibnall, who is set to take over as Doctor Who’s head writer from next year. Chibnall’s appointment has prompted speculation that he might decide to bring in his Broadchurch colleague.
Tennant said: “If the two of them [Colman and Chibnall] have been having top secret discussions behind my back, I will be furious! Olivia would clearly be a magnificent choice.”
Colman would be the first female actor to play the character in the show’s 50 year history, though Joanna Lumley once took on the role for a Red Nose Day comedy special. Referring to the change of gender, Tennant said: “If the story was right, then why not? […] If you have the right people telling the right stories, then it’s absolutely a possibility.”
Bookmakers are offering odds around 20/1 on the three-time Bafta-winner landing the role, but Colman is not the only famous name in the running. Ben Whishaw, best known for playing “Q” in the Bond films, is currently the bookies’ favourite, while his Bond co-star Rory Kinnear and comedian Richard Ayoade are also considered likely contenders.
Capaldi surprised his fans when he revealed on Monday that he would be leaving after the 2017 Christmas special, to coincide with current head writer Steven Moffat’s departure.
“People who know the show and love the show get very attached to actors in the role but are also always kind of excited about the prospect of change and renewal,” Tennant said. “That’s how the show has managed to keep going for over 50 years, because it has that kind of built-in renewal system.”
She can do no wrong: BAFTA-winning actress Olivia Colman instantly elevates every one of her projects to ‘must watch’ status. With the complete series of the very-bonkers but very touching Flowers available now on demand, we look back at ten times Olivia Colman was indisputably the best thing on telly.
As the matriarch of the Flowers family – a collection of crackpot individuals who would have been rejected as Wes Anderson characters for being ‘too quirky’ – Colman brought a quiet dignity to a woman who was nonetheless slowly unravelling inside. With her husband an increasingly reclusive figure and her kids too self-absorbed to notice her, Ma Flowers couldn’t be blamed for lusting after other men – but her cringeworthy flirtation with the neighbouring builders makes the toes curl. For a show that never settles on comedy or drama, Colman walks the line with perfect balance.
Much like the mustard that bears her name, Colman is best used sparingly. As the stepmother to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s titular loafer, Colman is a picture of composed malcontent: there’s so much simmering beneath her smile. Even though she only appears briefly in four episodes, she’s perfectly grotesque creation, which – no offence to writer Waller-Bridge – was likely not on paper: it’s all down to Colman. The awkwardness with which she discusses sex with Fleabag is exquisite; other actors should watch and learn how to spin a mere cameo into televisual gold.
The Night Manager
Although she got her start in comedy roles, Olivia Colman has proven herself to be an esteemed and talented dramatic actress. As hard-nosed intelligence operative Angela Burr, Colman gives the performance of her live as she entwines star Tom Hiddleston’s humble hotel manager into the deadly world of espionage. If you were thinking a role in a John Le Carrédrama might be a bit of a stretch for Colman, you’d be wrong: she’s terrific as a woman who has to keep her calm at all costs. In fact, she was nominated for an Emmy for her performance.
It’s impossible to discuss Olivia Colman’s contribution to ITV murder mystery Broadchurch without divulging a few key details, so avert your eyes if you’ve yet to become acquainted with its seaside charms. Colman plays Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, who along with David Tennant’s fellow officer Hardy, investigates the murder of a young boy in the fictional town of the title. Her flair for intense emotional acting was brought to the fore, however, upon the reveal that the murderer was her husband all along: Colman absolutely nails two vital scenes, first when she’s informed of the killer, and second when she finally confronts him. Watch this woman in action and tell us she didn’t earn that Best Actress Bafta.
As Sophie, object of Mark Corrigan’s affection, Colman ran the full spectrum: from out-of-reach office crush to reluctant to girlfriend to spurned wife to bitter ex to passive aggressive mother to his child. Sophie once was everything normal that Mark needed in his life, but thanks to a jilting at the altar – and office halfwit Jeff leading her astray – she eventually grew to hate Mark’s cowardly guts. Having given birth to Mark’s baby and spitefully named it ‘Ian’, Sophie hit the bottle; she was last seen being shamefully buried in a ball-pit in a soft play centre. R.I.B. Sophie.
If you thought history was boring, history after a few bottles of wine and a couple of Aperol Spritzes makes it much more tolerable. That’s the concept of this ace Comedy Central show, which sees comedians neck as much booze as possible before retelling famous stories of history, acted out by famous actors. As a sozzled Josie Long narrated the story of infamous American quack Dr Harvey Crippen, Olivia Colman played his lover Ethel Le Neve, who had to disguise herself as a boy when the pair went on the run. Something about her disarming smile and toothy grin makes her the perfect candidate for a murderer’s mistress.
Nestling in between the giant egos tasked with bringing order to the chaos that was the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was Olivia Colman’s wallflower Sally Owen, personal assistant to Hugh Bonneville’s Head of Deliverance and most downtrodden doormat in the office. Most unhelpful is the fact that the Deliverance teams are all idiots, but particularly problematic is the fact that Sally is in love with her boss, and Olivia Colman plays it sweet and subtle, her ‘deer in the headlights’ act falling just the right side of simpering. We never find out if her feelings are reciprocated, but it doesn’t matter – her work is done and her mission is completed. It’s as Ian says: “She’s basically running the Olympics”.
Any British comedic actor worth his or her salt between 2004-2006 appeared in some capacity in Green Wing, the madcap medical comedy that felt like it had overdosed on methadone. Colman played HR staffer Harriet, who along with her colleagues, never really seemed to do much work. An overworked mother of four who is stuck in a romantic rut with her long-suffering husband, Harriet eventually goes all in on an affair with Paterson Jospeh’s doctor Lyndon, giggling as he man-handles her (“I nearly weed!”). Most exciting, however, is the fact that this dalliance saw Peep Show titans Sophie and Johnson come together in an unholy alliance. What would Mark say?
Look Around You
Robert Popper’s Tomorrow’s World parody was a goldmine for early 00s comedy, and Colman played one of the pseudo-science show’s hosts, Pam Bachelor. Permanently decked out in a most unflattering BHS jump-suit and with bouffant hair that’s never seen a straightener, Pam was one of four hosts who introduced amazing new inventions to the general public, like the Memory Helmet (which allows users to memorise large lists instantly, albeit with the side effect of lowering their voice several octaves) and the Petticoat 5, the computer for women (“You can see here, the space bar is an emery board”). Shows don’t come much sillier and Colman was always game for a laugh.
In one of those ‘Oh, I didn’t know she was in this’ cameo roles, Colman had a small part in The Office as Helena the reporter from Inside Paper, doomed to write up a puff piece on David Brent. Remaining professional to the last, she consistently rebuffed Brent’s efforts to annotate his own interview (“Put ‘David Brent is refreshingly laid back for a man with such responsibility’…”). Her highlight, however, is the excruciating wait she suffers between taking photos of Brent, who is wearing exactly the expression you’d expect from a man who’s just been told he’s been let go: “One more for safety,” she says, frantically waiting for the camera to reload or the sweet release of death, whichever comes first.
It’s been a long old wait for Broadchurch fans. 22 months, to be precise. But patience is rewarded and today brings us our very first glimpse (and when we say glimpse, we mean glimpse) at the third series of ITV’s hit crime drama.
The new trailer comes courtesy of BBC America who have tweeted a ten-second teaser for the new episodes, the first trailer we’ve had promoting the show’s return. (So far fans have had to make do with scraps of information and a moody-looking picture of David Tennant, Olivia Colman and new co-star Julie Hesmondhalgh.)
So, what does this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it teaser bring us? Well, there’s the quintessential Broadchurch cliff shot, some intense staring on the part of Tennant’s DI Alec Hardy and Colman’s DS Ellie Miller, and a brief look at Arthur Darvill’s Rev. Paul Coates (yes, he’s back too!)
Jodie Whittaker’s Beth Latimer also features, but perhaps most intriguing is this frame which features Tom Miller – the son of Ellie and Danny Latimer’s murderer Joe – looking to Mark Latimer as he strolls through an official-looking building alongside Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s junior barrister Abby Thompson. Remember, Tom and Mark used to meet up in secret in Susan Wright’s caravan before the teenager testified against Danny’s dad in court.
The scene bears a striking resemblance to the events of series two – and indeed, could be an old piece of footage – but, if new, it may hint at what’s in store from the third series. We already know the plot will follow Hardy and Miller’s investigation of a sexual offence, but quite how the Latimers and the rest of Broadchurch’s residents fit into the storyline remains to be seen.
The third series of Broadchurch was filmed last summer and is due back on screens early next year. It will be the final instalment of the hit drama as creator Chris Chibnall will become Doctor Who showrunner when Steven Moffat steps down next Christmas.
The book’s had millions of children the world over chanting their way through its epic adventure for nigh on 30 years.
Now the bedtime classic We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, which has sold 9 million copies since it was first published in 1989 and spawned countless sing-along theatre productions, has been brought to life in a new festive film that promises to be one of this Christmas’s most magical family highlights.
The adaptation of author Michael Rosen and illustrator Helen Oxenbury’s bestseller follows siblings Stan, Katie, Rosie, Max and the baby as they embark on an adventure with their dog Rufus on Christmas Eve.
Spurred on by Katie’s love of grizzlies the children go in search of one, encountering a series of daunting obstacles along the way.
They must overcome long wavy grass, a deep cold river, oozing mud, a dark, threatening forest and a whirling snowstorm, and at each one they’re united in their resolve, chanting, ‘We can’t go under it; we can’t go over it; oh no! We’ve got to go through it.’
When they reach a cave, they find a bear all on his own. Rosie believes him to be kind and gives him a cuddle, but the others run away so Rosie follows, back through all the obstacles with the bear padding after them.
They reach home, lock the door, run upstairs and hide under the bedcovers with the dog. The bear knocks on the door but no one answers, and the poor forlorn creature trudges off home.
One of the beauties of the book is the words Michael Rosen has used to conjure up each obstacle – ‘swishy-swashy’ for the long grass, ‘splash-splosh’ for the river, ‘squelch-squerch’ for the mud – and the way they draw young readers into a sensory experience as they chant them out loud.
And it’s turned the ancient children’s rhyme on which it’s based – ‘We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared!’ – into one of Britain’s best known children’s songs.
The new TV adaptation has been expanded, and introduces us to the children’s mother, father and grandma too. It’s been made by the people behind The Snowman And The Snowdog, the sequel to the 1982 animated Christmas classic The Snowman, that pulled in 11 million viewers in 2012.
In the new film Mum, Dad and Grandma prove pivotal to the children’s adventure when the parents leave them alone to go and help Grandma whose car has broken down. When they return, and the children are safe after their encounter with the bear, Dad gets out his ukulele and Grandma leads everyone in a singalong.
‘I know the book, I read it to my older children,’ says Broadchurch and The Night Manager star Olivia Colman, who voices Mum and is the mother of boys Finn, ten, and Hall, eight, and a one-year-old daughter.
‘It was a long time ago but we loved it. Their favourite part was joining in with the sound effects and the chanting – doing movements with the swishy grass and the squelchy mud. My youngest is too little at the moment, but she’ll be enjoying the book in the near future.’
The film will enchant a whole new audience with its story of perseverance, optimism and a love of nature. Coming up against a host of obstacles the children battle on, united in their ambitious quest.
‘What appealed to me about the story is the bond the family have,’ says Olivia. ‘They care for each other and look after each other. Another wonderful aspect of the story is that it’s kids enjoying a natural adventure with their imaginations, fresh air and the wilderness.
‘It’s the sort of adventure adults remember from their own childhoods, while kids are currently in that place where they can imagine these things so clearly,’ she says.
‘It just struck a nerve with families young and old. I’ll be spending Christmas with my family and being cosy, going for walks, lighting a fire and eating an awful lot of food. But part of Christmas is cuddling up together and watching a film, one that everyone can enjoy, and this is perfect for grandparents and kids, cuddling up and experiencing it together.’
Dad is played by Harry Potter and Father Brown actor Mark Williams. ‘When I read the script I was moved to tears,’ he says.
‘I’m terrible for doing that. I said to my wife, “Do you want to read it?” and she said “No, I want to wait till it comes out.” So over Christmas we’ll definitely be watching it. Our teenage children will probably be on their phones but I’ll be watching it and weeping quietly in the corner. It was difficult playing Arthur Weasley in Harry Potter when one of the twins dies, as a parent I found that very tough, and this film is no different.
‘The poor bear has become more of a character in the film than he is in the book,’ he explains. ‘But the image of the bear trudging back to his cave alone and abandoned is a masterpiece as it’s so emotive – you know exactly what the bear is feeling, he feels so misunderstood.
‘My character, the dad, is only in our film version, but he’s a classic father, a loving dad. I think theirs is a bit of a confused household. Dad loses his car keys for example. He’s got something you might call “Dad-Head”, which is when your family buzzes in your head like a swarm of bees. Mums are much better at swatting the bees away but dads sometimes get a bit overwhelmed. He’s one of those dads.’
Pam Ferris of Call The Midwife has a poignant role as Grandma, who’s a kind of metaphor for the book’s message of coping with whatever gets in your way. ‘I was in tears reading the script too,’ she says.
‘We meet Grandma at a time where she’s had a very sad experience – her husband, the children’s grandad, has recently died. Yet she’s not the kind of person who would expect everybody to share her grief, and she lifts the atmosphere in the house by dancing and singing.
‘She’s a lovely woman. The emotions Grandma goes through are very touching. She moves from being very sad to lifting everyone’s spirits. We wanted to avoid the grieving Grandma cliché and it’s brilliant how the film subliminally passes on the message that in life there are some things you can’t go over or under, you just have to go through them.’
As a dog owner, Pam was drawn to the film’s Rufus. ‘He’s gorgeous,’ she beams. ‘The animation tells you in the first few beats that he’s smelled something unusual, and we’re waiting for the bear at every moment as Rufus is onto him.
‘My own dogs would love to join in a bear hunt. Stan’s a very fast lurcher and you wouldn’t see him for dust, while my Jack Russell Elsie would bark her head off if she saw a bear. Instead they have to be content with chasing squirrels up trees.’
Michael Rosen, the former Children’s Laureate who wrote the best-selling book all those years ago, couldn’t be more chuffed to be providing the voices for both the Bear and the Hedgehog the children encounter in the long grass. ‘You can’t imagine how thrilled I am! I’m trying to keep a straight face but I’m actually crying and laughing at the same time.
‘The idea that I can be the Bear in Bear Hunt is mind-blowing. But being the Hedgehog is one of the hardest roles I’ve ever played. If those people in the recording studio thought I could just turn up and go “Sniff!” without the method work, immersing myself in the character, they were wrong,’ he jokes. ‘I had to think about the Hedgehog’s mother, the Hedgehog’s father, where the Hedgehog had been, where the Hedgehog goes shopping…’
Michael, now 70, first started performing Bear Hunt in schools in the mid 1980s after hearing it as an American summer camp song. When David Lloyd, editor of publishers Walker Books, saw him performing it he thought it would make a great book and got Michael to start writing it.
Coincidentally Helen Oxenbury, an award-winning illustrator with a career spanning more than 40 years, was already familiar with the song too.
‘I first heard the story when the Scottish folk singer Alison McMorland asked me to design the cover for an album of folk songs, and Bear Hunt was one of them,’ recalls Helen, who’s now 78.
‘She used to sing it with her son. Then I didn’t think about it for years until, by coincidence, I was asked to do some illustrations. When I was shown the text I thought, “My goodness, I know it!”’
Michael and Helen didn’t meet until after the project was finished and while Michael had envisaged it as a king, queen and jester setting off to find a bear, Helen went for a group of children.
‘I didn’t want adults around because the imagination can run freer without them,’ she says. ‘I modelled them on my own children and added a few more. The dog in the book is exactly like my own dog Stanley, a mongrel, who had lots of Labrador and Collie in him.’
Helen also used real locations for inspiration. ‘I grew up on an East Anglian estuary, and when the tide goes out you get mud flats. When the sun sets and reflects in the mud the scene is absolutely astonishing with a backdrop of big skies, so I used that for the mud scenes,’ she explains.
‘The beach where they find the bear’s cave was inspired by a holiday we had in Druidstone in Pembrokeshire. There was a perfect sandy beach with rocks and cliffs, and the cliffs also had caves, But unlike the children in the book I didn’t dare explore them. The forest was based on Hampstead Heath, which I know very well as it’s near my home.’
Helen admits to being an avid people watcher and uses her observations to create her incredible gallery of postures and expressions.
‘I added the last two pages of the bear walking home alone, so forlorn but adorable, because it occurred to me that the bear was all on his own in the cave and might have wanted some company rather than to eat the children. He’s lonely and a bit scared too. Then he thinks, “Oh gosh, visitors!” But then they run home, so he follows them but is upset when they shut the door in his face.’
Helen modelled the bear’s rounded shoulders on an American friend.
‘This poor chap was going through a rotten time because of his divorce and was depressed. I could just tell by his shoulders and these arms that rather hung to the side. I drew the bear and told him it was him. He was thrilled! I went to his flat in New York recently and he has the drawings framed on the wall. And I’m pleased to say he’s now deliriously happy with a new partner.’
It was important to Helen that the animation for the film still featured elements of the watercolour illustrations from the book. ‘I’m terribly impressed with the film. I’m delighted,’ she admits.
‘It’s absolutely true to the spirit of the original. For instance, for the snowstorm, they’ve really got the atmosphere and the sparseness and the bleakness of it beautifully. They haven’t tried to pretty it up.’
Why does Michael believe the book was such a resounding success? ‘It’s got this pounding rhythm and repetition, but I think the main reason is because it tells the story of a family having tough times, and we all have tough times. But it’s kind of making fun of it. It’s a thing people say – “Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!”’
Make a date with Channel 4 on Christmas Eve – you’ll have no trouble getting through this spellbinding half hour of TV. n
We’re Going On A Bear Hunt is on Christmas Eve at 7.30pm on Channel 4.
Channel 4’s eccentric comedy Flowers will bloom again.
A second series of the dark comedy will see the return of Olivia Colman’s Deborah and her depressed husband Maurice (Julian Barratt), the broadcaster has announced.
The six-part run will look at a new era of their marriage and whether they can survive the challenges laid bare in series one, including Maurice’s suicide attempt and Deborah’s infidelity.
The Flowers’ twins Donald (Daniel Rigby, Black Mirror, Eric and Ernie) and Amy (Sophia di Martino, The Darkest Universe, Friday Night Dinner) will also be back, as will the character of Shun, the Flowers’ Japanese factotum played by the writer Will Sharpe.
The recommission is a sign of Channel 4’s faith in the show: it opened in April with 710,000 viewers for episode one. Overnight ratings dropped to 400,000 in the middle of the run before rallying to 680,000 for the series finale.
The show’s consolidated viewing was an average of 1m viewers per episode across the five episodes.
Deputy Head of Comedy Nerys Evans, who commissioned the show for Channel 4 said: “Covering deeply complex issues like fidelity, mental health, sexuality and fraying family bonds, Will Sharpe’s hilariously awkward and heart-breaking show offers another unmissable look at the Flowers’ messed up world.
“Will’s scripts and the show’s perfect cast are so brilliant at making you wail with laughter one minute, and well up the next. I couldn’t be more excited for the family’s return to Channel 4.”
Olivia Colman turned heads earlier this year with her performance as Angela Burr, the steely spy in The Night Manager. The BBC’s adaptation of the John le Carré novel gripped the Sunday night audience across the country, and was the most expensive BBC production to date, with each episode costing about £3m to make.
Ever since it ended, people have been asking if there’ll be a second series. According to Hugh Laurie, who played the villainous David Roper, the only way this could happen would be if le Carré were to write a sequel.
On whether she’d do another stint as Burr, Colman said: “You’d have to be a complete idiot to say no. I think that if they called we’d all say yes.”
In an interview with Deadline, she added that her husband compared Burr’s character to a zebra who’s not afraid of lions – the lions being Tom Hiddleston’s Pine and Hugh Laurie’s Roper.
After The Night Manager there was also a lot of chatter on Twitter about Colman being the next Bond. Colman dismissed this as “sort of a comedy tweet” and said she would prefer Hiddleston as Ian Fleming’s 007: “I mean, he would be perfect wouldn’t he? He’s the perfect specimen for Bond.”
She did, however, admit that she’d like to play the head of MI6: “I like M. I’d love to be M one day. Well, maybe when Ralph Fiennes doesn’t want to do it anymore, maybe he’ll give me a ring.”
Watch this space.
“Watership Down,” the 1972 Richard Adams novel that was adapted into an animated film just six years later, will be adapted once again for a computer-animated mini-series produced by Netflix and the BBC.
“The thing about Watership Down is that it’s an epic adventure story,” Rory Aitken, executive producer, told The Telegraph U.K.
A tale about displaced rabbits looking for a new home, “Watership Down” has become well known for its brutal violence over the years, but that will change somewhat with the new series.
“It’s not a terrifying, brutal story,” said Aitken. “I think that in a way we want to restore the reputation that the book should have as one of the great adventure stories of all time. It’s grown this reputation for being scarring and horrific and brutal, and actually that’s not what the essence of the story is. While we won’t shy away from the darkness in the book, visually it won’t be as brutal and scarring.”
The anthropomorphized rabbits of the adventure story will be voiced by Sir Ben Kingsley, who will play General Woundwort, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, and “Star Wars” star John Boyega.
In addition to toning down the shocking scenes of animal violence seen in the original film, project heads say the new mini-series will feature more prominently the voices and storylines of the work’s female characters.
Gemma Arterton, Olivia Colman, and Anne-Marie Duff will voice Clover, Strawberry, and Hyzenthlay, respectively.
“The idea is to bring it to a wider family audience. While ‘Watership Down’ is never going to be for young children, it will be for the whole family to watch together,” said Aitken.
The mini-series is reportedly being produced in four parts, and has a budget around 20 million pounds, according to the Daily Mail.
The series will premiere on the BBC, and be available on-demand thereafter on Netflix.
The Broadchurch star, 42, who appears in the BBC hit The Night Manager, says she is simply glad to land roles.
Olivia said: “I have been very lucky. I have had work in England. Wherever you get work, it’s a great thing.”
Speaking in LA to promote The Night Manager’s US premiere, she added: “Most actors aren’t working at any one time. I remember what it’s like not to work so I’m grateful for anything I get.”
She also suggested she would do another series of the BBC show, saying: “If they can make sure each season is good, great.
“I think the people who made this would only keep going if they could ensure that it was as good or better than the first time round.”
Some of the nation’s most famous faces have been getting their scribble on in the name of charity.
We’ve all aimlessly doodled away while being kept on hold or sat on a train, and now celebrities have revealed some of their own doodling habits.
With the aim of raising money for UK charity Epilepsy Action, the likes of Michael Parkinson, Olivia Colman and Jose Mourinho have all put pen to paper for this year’s National Doodle Day.
From the plain and simple to the weird and wonderful, we’ve taken a look at what some of these doodles might actually mean.
Art therapist Anniek Verholt, from Arts Therapy London, has given us an expert insight into what might have been going through the celebs’ minds when they submitted their scribbles.
Award-winning actress Olivia Colman , 41, chooses to keep things light and pretty with her charity doodle. The bunch of flowers is girly and neat and we think it captures her happy personality brilliantly.
Anniek’s view – “This is a playful and well-balanced drawing. It’s just a lovely gesture.”