Keira Knightley has left the Apple TV Plus series “The Essex Serpent” over family reasons, Variety has confirmed.
Sources tell Variety that production on the series was due to start in six weeks and is now on hiatus. Knightley’s representative told the Daily Mail, which first reported the news, that she had to leave for “family reasons.” The second wave of coronavirus is now upon the U.K. and the actor’s rep told the outlet that “there wasn’t a comfortable scenario for Keira that could be put in place for an extended period of childcare required for the four-and-a-half-month production.”
Knightley and her husband, musician James Righton, have two children.
Based on a 2016 novel by Sarah Perry, “The Essex Serpent” follows a newly widowed woman who, having escaped an abusive marriage, relocates from Victorian London to a small village in the county of Essex. She is intrigued by a local superstition that a mythical creature known as the Essex Serpent has returned to the area.
“The Essex Serpent” is being produced for Apple TV Plus by See-Saw Films (“Ammonite,” “The King’s Speech”), and was commissioned for Apple out of the U.K. by Apple’s heads of worldwide video, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, and creative director for Europe Worldwide Video, Jay Hunt.
Clio Barnard (“The Selfish Giant,” “The Arbor”) is set to direct.
Knightley was also set to executive produce “The Essex Serpent.” The actor was Oscar-nominated for “The Imitation Game” and “Pride & Prejudice.” She will next be seen in Camille Griffin’s “Silent Night.” She is also attached to limited series “The Other Typist.”
Variety has reached out to Knightley’s reps and See-Saw Films for comment. The actor is represented by United Artists, CAA, Narrative and Sloane Offer.