AMC has closed a co-production deal with BBC Worldwide North America for BBC One’s drama series McMafia starring James Norton (Happy Valley, War & Peace), which is set in the international world of organized crime. Co-produced by AMC, BBC and Cuba Pictures (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell), in association with Twickenham Studios, McMafia is created and written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter and film director Hossein Amini (Drive) and James Watkins (The Woman in Black) – who will be directing all eight episodes – and is inspired by Misha Glenny’s 2008 best-selling book of the same name. Production has begun in London.
McMafia, which marks the latest British co-production for AMC, joining such series as Humans, The Night Manager and the upcoming Loaded, charts Alex Godman’s (James Norton) journey as he is drawn deeper and deeper into the criminal world.
The series has lined up an international cast including David Strathairn (The Bourne Ultimatum) as Semiyon Kleiman, a well-connected Israeli businessman with a twinkle in his eye that betrays deeper secrets. Juliet Rylance (The Knick) portrays Rebecca Harper, Alex’s strong-willed and morally upright British girlfriend, Aleksey Serebryakov (The Method) will play Dimitri, Alex’s father and the exiled head of the Russian mafia. Maria Shukshina (Yolki 3) has been cast as Oksana, Alex’s socialite mother, and Faye Marsay (Game of Thrones) rounds out the cast in the role of Katya, Alex’s sister.
Godman (Norton) is the English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia history, who has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past, building his own legitimate business and forging a life with his girlfriend Rebecca. But when his family’s past murderously returns to threaten them, Alex is drawn into the criminal world and forced to confront his values to protect those he loves.
“McMafia is simply one of those shows that comes along at exactly the right moment,” said Joel Stillerman, president of original programming and development for AMC and SundanceTV. “Misha Glenny’s book reminds us that underneath the headlines of today what we used to think of as organized crime is something completely different. It’s a global operation, with tentacles in every corner of our world. The creative team behind McMafia has brilliantly used the essence of this source material to write a compelling and relevant piece of television.”
McMafia charts Alex’s journey through a terrifying labyrinth of international criminals, money launderers, corrupt politicians and ruthless intelligence agencies. He soon finds himself embroiled in an underworld that stretches from London to Moscow, Dubai to Mumbai, Africa to the Americas, a battleground where Mexican cocaine cartels compete with Pakistani drug lords, Balkan smugglers and the Russian Mafia itself. What starts out as a story of survival and revenge becomes an epic tale of a man’s struggle against the lures of corruption in the modern world and in himself.
The writing team, led by Amini and Watkins, includes David Farr (The Night Manager), Peter Harness (Doctor Who), and Laurence Coriat (Wonderland).
McMafia is executive produced by Nick Marston, Dixie Linder, Ben Hall, and Robyn Slovo for Cuba Pictures, Matthew Read for BBC One and Hossein Amini, James Watkins and Misha Glenny. Paul Ritchie is producing.