Though Ruth Wilson had to be written out of Emmy-nominated BBC America miniseries “Luther,” show creator and exec producer Neil Cross has big plans for her Alice character.
Cross said he has spoken to the BBC about creating a miniseries that would center on Alice, the beguiling serial killer with whom Idris Elba’s Luther tangoed in the first set of “Luther” episodes.
“The BBC is very interested in the project,” Cross told Variety today. “The only real question would be how many and how often we would do it — whether it would be a one-off miniseries or a returning miniseries, a co-production or not.”
The Alice project would come in addition to a proposed “Luther” movie that would follow the miniseries third and final set of episodes, which will air on BBC America (which co-produces with the BBC) at a time to be determined.
“The truth is I absolutely adore Alice,” Cross said. “I don’t like to imagine my life without Alice in some way or other. Even if I didn’t sell this thing, I would still end up writing the miniseries. It’s something peculiar, but she’s far more clever than me, far more witty than me, far more everything than me.
“I’ve got storylines going around in my head like trains,” he added.
The subject originally came up in a discussion that Cross had with Variety freelancer Justin Shady for an post-nomination Emmy feature on how Cross moved forward without Wilson, whose time on the second season of “Luther” was limited because of scheduling conflicts. Wilson has moved onto films including “Anna Karenina” and “The Lone Ranger.”
Cross said today that he hasn’t had extensive conversations with Wilson about the idea, though they are having dinner next week and figure to have the subject come up then. Noting that “Luther” showed Alice leaving London, Cross said he envisioned setting the spinoff project in the U.S., calling it her “natural habitat.”
“We’re kind of thinking very loosely of a mix between ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ and ‘The Last Seduction,’” Cross said. “I’d love to move between the London of ‘Luther’ and America.”
Elba wouldn’t be part of the Alice project, at least initially, Cross added.
“The great thing is they can survive independently of each other,” he said. “Each of those actors is so kind of secretly magnetic. … He’s able to pull that intense relationship out of many, many actors he’s worked with, and I think Ruth as Alice would be able to do the same.
“I think the first one would probably be a Luther-free zone, because their stories have diverged to a large extent, but there would be nothing to suggest they couldn’t come together again — either by this vehicle or a ‘Luther’ movie.”
Taking “Luther” to the big screen is also more a matter of when than if, Cross said.
“We’ve got lots and lots of movie interest, and Idris and I (are being) very careful about what kind of movie we choose to do,” Cross noted. “We’ve got all kinds of criteria of how and when we should do the movie, and we just need to pick our offer carefully. But I’d love to do it next year.”
Cross isn’t exactly twiddling his thumbs waiting to see what will happen next. He is in Los Angeles, exec producing “Crossbones,” a period drama with a 10-episode order from NBC that is centered on the pirate Blackbeard. Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald and Ted Gold are also exec producing, with Georgeville Television producing. It’s Cross’ first experience in a U.S.-style writers’ room.
“I was very nervous on the first day, even trying to work out what to wear,” he said. “I was literally posing like a teenager in the mirror.”