James McAvoy, beloved by geek culture for his role as young Professor Xavier in the X-Men film series, is playing Lord Asriel in the BBC’s new adaptation of His Dark Materials. After a failed movie attempt in 2007, fans have been worried that Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy would never see the screen again. However, James McAvoy joins a growing and well-established cast in what is shaping up to be an excellent version of Pullman’s work.
The BBC announced their adaptation of His Dark Materials earlier this year, and the project includes former Doctor Who producers Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter. The project also brings Tom Hooper, director of the Les Miserables feature film, on board.
Other casting decisions include Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby (whoa!), Logan star Dafne Keen as the main character Lyra Belacqua and Ruth Wilson from The Affair as the deadly and beautiful Mrs. Coulter. As of yet, no news on who’s playing the bear.
His Dark Materials: Why The First One Flopped
The 2007 adaptation of The Golden Compass, first book in the trilogy, failed tremendously. Mainly, it ignored the core themes of the book. While we won’t spoil the ending of the first book, it’s deeply unsettling and ties into the trilogy as a whole. By changing it, the movie did an incredible injustice to Lyra as a character and to Pullman’s writing.
As a result, while physically beautiful, the movie was soulless. Furthermore, there was nowhere to go with it, since the ending had been so drastically altered.
Ultimately, this adaptation could have the best cast in the world, and the writing may not hold up. However, the increased flexibility offered by long-form storytelling and television will hopefully give them the room that they need.
(And I, personally, can’t wait for the casting of Serafina Pekkala. Bring on the Witch Queen!)
What do you think about the upcoming BBC His Dark Materials?