Emmy winner Claire Danes bid farewell to her acclaimed Showtime series Homeland last year, but she’s not waiting long to make her return to television, as she has signed on to star in the Apple TV+ series The Essex Serpent.
Based on the award-winning 2016 novel by Sarah Perry, the drama follows Cora (Danes), a newly widowed woman who, having survived an abusive marriage, decides to relocate from Victorian London to the small village of Aldwinter in Essex. There, she becomes intrigued by a local superstition that a mythical creature known as the Essex Serpent has returned to the area.
Produced by See-Saw Films, the series will be directed by Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant), and Anna Symon (Mrs. Wilson) will serve as lead writer. The duo will also executive produce alongside Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Patrick Walters, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, while Andrea Cornwell will serve as a producer on the project.
Danes replaces Keira Knightley in The Essex Serpent after Knightley cited COVID-19 concerns when she dropped out of the project last year. While Knightley is clearly a bigger movie star, I think Danes is the better actress, so her casting feels like an upgrade for the show.
Danes has spent the last decade working on Homeland, and she has been in demand for prestige dramas from both streamers and networks since her scheduled freed up. The Showtime series was so demanding that Danes only had time to shoot a few indie films, including Brigsby Bear, between seasons, in addition to a single appearance on Aziz Ansari‘s Netflix show Master of None.
Apple has been busy building up its drama slate, which includes Masters of the Air from executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks; the spy thriller Slow Horses starring Gary Oldman; an adaptation of the bestselling novel Shantaram starring Charlie Hunnam; Mark Boal‘s new action-thriller Echo 3, which is set entirely in South America; and the fast-paced thriller Suspicion starring Uma Thurman. The streamer is also developing an adaptation of Blake Crouch‘s novel Dark Matter with Venom producer Matt Tolmach.