The pair join Eve Hewson (“The Knick”), Eva Green (“Penny Dreadful”) and Marton Csokas (“Into the Badlands”) in the period piece. The high-end drama is being produced by Working Title and Southern Light Films for the BBC in the U.K. and TVNZ in New Zealand.
British actor Patel is best known for a long stint in British daytime soap “EastEnders” and will soon be seen in Tom Harper’s Amazon Studios feature film “The Aeronauts” alongside Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Leslie is the Australian actor who starred opposite Jenna Coleman in “The Cry,” and alongside Nicole Kidman and Elisabeth Moss in another BBC and Sundance series, “Top of the Lake: China Girl.”
“The Luminaries,” which won the Man Booker Prize in 2013, is being filmed on location in New Zealand, where the book is set, on the country’s South Island, against the backdrop of the 1860s gold rush. It follows young adventurer Anna Wetherell (Hewson), who has sailed from Britain to New Zealand to begin a new life. There she meets prospector Emery Staines, who will be played by Patel. Leslie is the reclusive Crosbie Wells.
Antipodean actors Yoson An (“Mortal Engines”), Erik Thomson (“The Code”), Benedict Hardie (“Hacksaw Ridge”) and newcomer Richard Te Are will all also appear in the series.
Catton has adapted her book for TV with Claire McCarthy (“Ophelia”), who directs. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner and the BBC’s Mona Qureshi are among the executive producers. Fremantle has the international rights to the six-part series. Its executive vice president of global drama, Christian Vesper, will also exec produce.