Apple’s ‘The Essex Serpent’ Goes On Hiatus After Keira Knightley Backs Out Amid UK Coronavirus Outbreak

Keira Knightley
Michael Buckner/Deadline

Apple TV+’s adaptation of Sarah Perry novel The Essex Serpent has halted pre-production after Keira Knightley dramatically dropped out just weeks after Deadline revealed that she was to headline the series.

The Atonement actress’ rep told the Daily Mail that she was not participating for family reasons related to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the second wave of COVID cases in the UK, the rep said “there wasn’t a comfortable scenario for Keira that could be put in place for an extended period of childcare required for the four-and-a-half-month production.”

The See-Saw series was due to go into production at the end of November, but will now need to recast the lead role of Cora. Deadline understands that the show will go on hiatus before shooting in 2021.

The Essex Serpent follows newly-widowed Cora as she relocates from Victorian London to the small village of Aldwinter, intrigued by a local superstition that a mythical creature known as the Essex Serpent has returned.

Knightley also served as an executive producer on The Essex Serpent alongside director Clio Barnard writer Anna Symon, Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Patrick Walters, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman. Andrea Cornwell serves as producer.

Knightley is represented by Range Media Partners, United Agents, Narrative and Sloane Offer.

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