The Good Wife and Downton Abbey alum Matthew Goode is set as the lead in WGN America’s alien saga pilot Roadside Picnicbased on the famous novel by top Soviet/Russian science fiction writers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

Written by Transcendence scribe Jack Paglen, with Terminator Genisys and Game Of Thrones helmer Alan Taylor attached to direct and Neal Moritz producing, Roadside Picnic explores a near-future world where aliens have come and gone, leaving humankind to explore the wondrous and dangerous mysteries left behind. The story also explores the social ramifications of their visit, as seen through the eyes of Red (Goode), a veteran “stalker” who has made it his mission to illegally venture into the once inhabited zone and scavenge the abandoned remains of the alien culture.

Goode’s Red is described as an “enigmatic, blue-collar contradiction” who can be quietly intelligent one momWGN Americaent — and utterly ruthless the next. Red has a loving relationship with his wife Guta and his daughter Marie — who is shunned because she is a child of the “Zone,” the site of a long-ago extraterrestrial visitation. Red used to be a “Stalker” — one of the brave souls willing to risk their lives by illegally entering the Zone to sell what they find on the black market. Red, recently out of prison, finds his troubles are just beginning.

Sony Pictures TV, where Roadside Picnic was originally developed as a spec, is the studio, partnered with Tribune Studios. Paglen and Taylor executive produce with Original Film’s Moritz and Vivian Cannon.

Published in Russia in 1972 under original title Пикник на обочине, Roadside Picnic was adapted to the big screen by top Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky in 1979 under the title Stalker. 

Following his high-profile roles on CBS’ The Good Wife and Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey, Goode most recently co-starred in A+E Networks’ Roots remake. On the feature side, he is filming thriller The Hatton Garden Job for Voltage Pictures. His upcoming credits also include Four Kids And It and Robert Zemeckis’ Allied. Goode is repped by CAA & Dalzell and Beresford.

Roadside Picnic, along with Scalped, based on the DC Comics graphic novel, are the first pilot orders at WGNA, which previously had employed exclusively the straight-to-series model.