EXCLUSIVE: Colin Farrell is to star in the BBC’s adaptation of The North Water. Deadline understands that the Minority Report star will front the series, written and directed by Lean on Pete and 45 Years’ Andrew Haigh, and produced by Top of the Lake producer See-Saw Films.
Farrell plays Henry Drax in the drama, a harpooner and brutish killer whose amorality has been shaped to fit the harshness of his world, who will set sail on a whaling expedition to the Arctic with Patrick Sumner, a disgraced ex-army surgeon who signs up as the ship’s doctor. Hoping to escape the horrors of his past, Sumner finds himself on an ill-fated journey with a murderous psychopath. In search of redemption, his story becomes a harsh struggle for survival in the Arctic wasteland.
Deadline understands that the BBC is in talks with a number of A-list actors for the role of Sumner and a deal is thought to be close.
It is Farrell’s return to British television and the BBC after he broke out in Ballykissangel. It is his most high-profile TV gig since starring in the second season of True Detective. He recently starred in Guy Ritche’s Toff Guys and is set to star in War Pigs, a Millennium Films action film that Tommy Wirkola will direct.
The series, which is being produced as three hour-long episodes and a 90-minute finale, is set in Hull and the ice floes of the Arctic in the late 1850s. It is an adaptation of Ian McGuire’s Man Booker Prize-longlisted novel. It is exec produced by Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and BBC’s Lucy Richer. It is a co-production with Rhombus Media, whose Niv Fichman will also exec produce. It was commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two. Filming will begin this fall.
Farrell is repped by CAA and managed by Ilene Feldman. BBC Studios sells internationally.
Andrew Haigh said, “Casting the right leads is the most important part of any project and I’m thrilled to have Colin Farrell on board. I am a huge admirer of his work and can’t wait to see him bring Drax vividly to life.”
BBC’s Wenger added, “Colin Farrell will bring a blend of brutality and humanity to Andrew Haigh’s superb adaptation of this savage novel. The North Water is a brooding and resonant story which is set to grip BBC Two viewers.”