Oscar winner Sissy Spacek and three-time Emmy-nominated Modern Family star Ed O’Neill are set as the leads in Amazon’s sci-fi drama Lightyears, from writer Holden Miller and producer Daniel C. Connolly. Argentinian director Juan José Campanella will direct and executive produce the first two episodes of the series, a co-production of Amazon Studios and Legendary Television. It’s scheduled to begin filming later this year.
This marks O’Neill’s return to TV following the end of Modern Family’s 11-season run last spring.
Written by Miller, Lightyears follows Franklin and Irene York, played by O’Neill and Spacek, a couple who years ago discovered a chamber buried in their backyard which inexplicably leads to a strange, deserted planet. They’ve carefully guarded their secret ever since, but when an enigmatic young man enters their lives, the Yorks’ quiet existence is quickly upended…and the mysterious chamber they thought they knew so well turns out to be much more than they could ever have imagined.
Spacek’s Irene is a retired English teacher with a thoughtful, magnetic presence. As her health fades, Irene’s life with her husband Franklin increasingly revolves around visits to the chamber. For decades they’ve kept the chamber a secret, with Irene obsessing about the deeper meaning of their discovery.
Mosaic’s Jimmy Miller and Sam Hansen serve as executive producers, and Emmy and BAFTA award-winning Philip Martin (The Crown) also joins as executive producer and a producing director.
O’Neill’s Franklin is a former woodworker with a charmingly grumpy demeanor. After more than 50 years of marriage, Franklin still has a powerful devotion to his wife but doesn’t share her fascination with the chamber, a secret which weighs heavily on him. For her sake, he is willing to endure its presence in their lives, but his patience is wearing thin.
Spacek, who won an Oscar for her performance as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter, most recently appeared on the big screen in The Old Man and the Gun and on television in recurring roles on Amazon’s Homecoming, Netflix’s Bloodline, HBO’s Big Love and Stephen King/J.J. Abrams’ Hulu series Castle Rock. Spacek is repped by MGMT Entertainment and UTA.
While he is best known for the two comedy series he starred in, Married… with Children and Modern Family, O’Neill has done extensive dramatic work on TV in such series as John From Cincinnati, The West Wing, Dragnet and Big Apple. O’Neill earned three Emmy nominations for his most recent TV role as patriarch Jay Pritchett on the long-running ABC comedy series Modern Family. He most recently was seen in indie feature The Last Shift, for Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa opposite Richard Jenkins, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. He is repped by Gersh and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.