While Bong Joon Ho’s futuristic cult thriller Snowpiercer took place on a train whereby the story advanced car-by-car as the characters moved to the front, that’s not how the drama will go down on TNT’s upcoming TV pilot adaptation.

“It’s a space ship show contained in one environment with a wide swatch of characters,” said Turner Entertainment chief creative officer and TBS and TNT president Kevin Reilly at TCA today.

While Snowpiercer is in the pilot stage, TNT brass is high on the project, investing in the building of elaborate sets with an eye toward a series order. “We do pilots with the intention to go to series,” Reilly told Deadline.

Jennifer Connelly
Chris Chapman

“It’s an internal pot boiler of various dynamics and an intriguing mystery through the first person. Jennifer Connelly has made her mark, but it won’t (ultimately) take place on a (different) car per episode,” said Reilly.

“She’s stoic and has a very coiled energy and that’s going to work well in this part,” said Reilly about Connelly. The network chief also confirmed that Connelly’s character isn’t the antagonist Mason that Tilda Swinton played in the movie. “It’s a new character,” said Reilly who also gave props to TNT’s EVP original programming Sarah Aubrey and her team for drawing the A Beautiful Mind Oscar-winning actress into the network’s fold. Throughout her career, Connelly has focused largely on film with her TV credits being Darren Star’s short-lived 2000 Fox drama series The $treet and the 1992 TNT film The Heart and Justice. 

Previously reported by DeadlineSnowpiercer will be an hour long and will be set seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland, and the remnants of humanity inhabit a gigantic, perpetually moving train that circles the globe. Like the movie, the show will explore class warfare, social injustice and the politics of survival. Connelly will play Melanie Cavill, a First Class passenger who works as the Voice of the Train – responsible for making the daily announcements over its PA system. Though many in her VIP position are dismissive of the lower class passengers, Melanie is curiously fascinated by them. Daveed Diggs will plays Layton Well, a prisoner who becomes a reluctant participant in a struggle that could upend life on the train. The pilot is directed by Doctor Strange helmer Scott Derrickson. Since Connelly boarded, Snowpiercer‘s cast includes Mickey Sumner, Annalise Basso, Sasha Frolova, Alison Wright, Benjamin Haigh, Roberto Urbina, and Katie McGuiness.

Snowpiercer is a co-production between Marty Adelstein/ITV Studios’ Tomorrow Studios, Turner’s Studio T and CJ Entertainment, is executive-produced by writer-showrunner Josh Friedman; director Derrickson; Tomorrow Studios’ Adelstein and Becky Clements; and the original film’s Bong Joon Ho, Park Chan-wook, Lee Tae-hun and Dooho Choi.