Oscar-winner Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) will direct the first two episodes of the eight-part adaptation by Jack Thorne (“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”). Dafne Keen (“Logan”) plays Lyra, the precocious girl at the center of the story, whose adventures with a truth-telling device called the alethiometer bring her into contact with her mysterious Uncle Asriel (McAvoy), a terrifying woman named Mrs. Coulter (Wilson) and a strange phenomenon called Dust. On her journey from Oxford to London and beyond, Lyra meets charismatic aeronaut and adventurer Lee Scoresby (Miranda).
Pullman’s series has sold close to 18 million copies. “His Dark Materials” covers the first three books: “The Golden Compass” (known as “Northern Lights” in Britain), “The Subtle Knife” and “The Amber Spyglass.” A fourth book in the series, the prequel “La Belle Sauvage,” was published last year.
Principal photography on the show, which is being produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema for the BBC, has begun in Cardiff, the Welsh capital. Rounding out the cast are Clarke Peters, Anne-Marie Duff, Ariyon Bakare, Ian Gelder, Georgina Campbell and Will Keen, among others.
“The caliber of our cast and directors is a testament to the brilliance of Jack Thorne’s scripts and also the sheer bravura, depth and imagination of Philip Pullman’s original novels,” said Bad Wolf founder and executive producer Jane Tranter says. “Our determination is to sound every note of the books in a series that will fully explore the many worlds and concepts in Philip’s work.”
Thorne, who has won Tony and Olivier awards for his stage work, said that Pullman’s books whisk the reader “into a world of constant imagination. Reading them, I was a massive fan. In adapting them, I’ve increasingly felt in awe of them. It’s the constant invention, the way the story never sits still, and that the characters constantly surprise you.”
“The Golden Compass” was turned into a movie in 2007 with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, but disappointed at the box office, and the expected sequels were never made. A stage version was mounted in London’s National Theatre in 2003-4.
“His Dark Materials” will be executive produced by Pullman, Thorne, and Hooper; Tranter, Dan McCulloch, and Julie Gardner for Bad Wolf; Deborah Forte, Toby Emmerich, and Carolyn Blackwood for New Line Cinema; and Ben Irving and Piers Wenger for BBC One. It is New Line Cinema’s first foray into British television.