EXCLUSIVE: The six-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic War And Peace is beginning to cast up. I hear that Downton Abbey’s Lily James and Prisoners’ Paul Dano have offers for lead roles and are seriously circling. The mini hails from BBC Worldwide, The Weinstein Co and Ripper Street‘s Look Out Point. Described as one of the most ambitious event series ever made for the BBC, it will be produced by BBC Cymru Wales and scripted by Andrew Davies. James would play Natasha Rostova, one of the novel’s central characters, who ultimately falls in love with Pierre Bezukhov, the awkward illegitimate son who rises in society but leads a tumultuous life as he seeks to overcome his emotions. Dano would play Pierre. In King Vidor’s 1956 feature adaptation, the roles were played by Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda.
The notoriously expansive novel begins in 1805 Russia and revolves around five aristocratic families set against the backdrop of the reign of Alexander I, the lingering effects of his grandmother Catherine The Great’s rule and the events surrounding Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Julia Stannard ir producing for the BBC. Executive producers on the mini are BBC Cymru Wales drama chief Faith Penhale, Look Out Point’s Simon Vaughn and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein and Robert Walak.
The miniseries is due for air in the UK in 2015 and was a first sign of The Weinstein Co’s ambitions to forge into the European TV arena when it was announced in October. The company subsequently teamed with the BBC and Look Out on upcoming TV movie Stan And Ollie, which is being scripted by Philomena’s Jeff Pope. TWC also acquired U.S. TV and VOD rights for the first three seasons of BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders.
James, who plays Lady Rose on Downton, next will be seen in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella. She is repped by Tavistock Wood Management in the UK and by UTA. Dano, who was in Oscar winner 12 Years A Slave last year, is playing Brian Wilson in Beach Boys biopic Love & Mercy which is screening in Toronto, and stars in Oscar-winner Paolo Sorrentino’s next film, The Early Years. He’s repped by WME.