We may be waiting a while for the Apple TV+ series Shantaram. An adaptation of the 2003 Gregory David Roberts novel has been in the works for years, and finally got off the ground last year as an original series at Apple starring Charlie Hunnam. The story chronicles a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict’s escape to India, with much of the action set in Bombay.
Filming on the Shantaram series got underway last year with American Hustle writer Eric Warren Singer serving as head writer and showrunner, but Variety reports that the production was shut down in December due to a writing backlog. Only two of the 10 episodes have been shot, and when it became clear that Singer had not yet completed all the necessary scripts, filming was shut down.
Production was expected to resume this week, but that plan was ditched when Apple realized the scripts wouldn’t be ready to shoot before monsoon season in India. That season usually lasts from June to October, so it’s unclear exactly how long production will be on hiatus, but it could be awhile.
Meanwhile, an additional showrunner is expected to be hired soon to run the day-to-day of production while Singer focuses on writing the scripts. All the episodes had been outlined in a writers room, but Singer was tackling the writing of the entire season himself, and it sounds like it proved to be a bit of a challenge.
Justin Kurzel, who helmed the Michael Fassbender-fronted Macbeth and Assassin’s Creed, directed the first two episodes and is signed to helm five episodes in total. Sources tell Variety that the producers are extremely pleased with what’s been shot so far, and the delay shouldn’t cause any shakeups in the main cast.
This kind of issue isn’t uncommon in television, especially when feature film screenwriters make the jump to episodic television. Aaron Sorkin was infamously behind schedule all throughout the making of The West Wing, and Dan Harmon ran up against similar problems on the NBC sitcom Community. More recently, HBO put the first season of Westworld on a short hiatus so the writers and showrunners could reconfigure and drill down a few key story points. All’s well that ends well, so hopefully Shantaram gets back up to speed later this year.