CANNES — John Turturro will play William of Baskerville, the 14th century Franciscan monk who investigates a series of grisly murders in the high-end TV adaptation of Umberto Eco’s bestseller “The Name of The Rose,” set to start shooting in January at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios.
Rupert Everett has been cast as the monk’s antagonist, Inquisitor Bernard Gui. Rising young German actor Damien Hardung (“The Red Band Society”) has landed a key role as Benedictine novice Adso of Melk, William of Baskerville’s apprentice sleuth.
Veteran Italian TV helmer Giacomo Battiato, whose credits include “L’infiltré,” a Palestinian terrorism thriller nominated for an International Emmy, will direct.
The ambitious “Name of the Rose” skein marks the first TV adaptation of Eco’s groundbreaking historical murder mystery which in 1986 was made into a movie by Jean-Jacques Annaud after selling millions of copies.
This eight-episode English-language show with a reported Euros 23 million ($27 million) budget is being produced by Italy’s Matteo Levi and Carlo Degli Esposti, respectively through their 11 Marzo and Palomar shingles, in collaboration with Italian pubcaster Rai’s Rai Fiction unit, headed by Eleonora Andreatta. Though Rai is putting up a substantial portion of the financing other partners are expected to come on board.
The producers are in advanced negotiations with Wild Bunch TV to become the show’s international distributor, but the deal is not closed yet.
Eco, who died in 2016, supervised the screenplays of this long-gestating project penned by writer/director Andrea Porporati in tandem with British writer Nigel Williams (“Elizabeth I”).
“The Name of the Rose” is the latest indication of Rai’s push into the international TV arena, following hit period thriller “Medici: Masters of Florence,” toplining Dustin Hoffman, on which Rai partnered with Wild Bunch TV, and Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend,” the first of the hot Italian author’s four “Neapolitan Novels,” which Rai is co-producing with HBO.
“These are stories that don’t just belong to Italy, but to the world,” Andreatta said.