Josh Steinbeck‘s classic novel East of Eden is getting the limited series treatment over at Netflix in a major way. Per Deadline, the adaptation hails from Emmy-nominated actress Zoe Kazan (Oliver Kitteridge, She Said) who’ll bring the novel to life with acclaimed actress Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Oppenheimer) set to star. The series is early on in development and has Anonymous Content and Endeavor Content co-producing.
Steinbeck‘s landmark novel was published back in 1952 and is still seen today as his magnum opus. Using the Trask and the Hamilton family, the novel loosely retells the story of Cain and Abel, using the different generations of the families to play out every piece of the old biblical tale. The series will revolve around many of the same themes of trauma and repair, love and betrayal, duty and free-will present in Steinbeck‘s novel while intimately depicting the Trask family, setting them up against the great historical forces of their time.
This isn’t the first time East of Eden has been tapped for on-screen material. In fact, it was Kazan‘s grandfather, Elia Kazan, who directed the 1955 Warner Bros. film which notably featured the late James Dean in his first big role on screen. It also featured other major stars of the time, including Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, and Burl Ives. Pugh will have big shoes to fill as she takes on the role of antiheroine Cathy Ames, originally portrayed by Jo Van Fleet in a Best Supporting Actress-winning performance.
East of Eden is a labor of love for Kazan, who has greatly appreciated the book for years, and she had high praise for Pugh in the leading role. She said in a statement:
I fell in love with East of Eden when I first read it, in my teens. Since then, adapting Steinbeck’s novel – the great, sprawling, three-generational entirety of it – has been my dream. More than anything, I have wanted to give full expression to the novel’s astonishing, singular antiheroine, Cathy Ames. Florence Pugh is our dream Cathy; I can’t imagine a more thrilling actor to bring this character to life. Writing this limited series over the last two years has been the creative highpoint of my life. I hope that with our partners at Netflix, Anonymous Content, and Endeavor Content, we can do justice to this material – and shed new light on it for a twenty-first century audience.
Pugh is a decorated actress, known as of late for her fantastic performance in the haunting Midsommar and in Greta Gerwig‘s Little Women. She’s also part of the MCU thanks to her roles in Black Widow and Hawkeye. East of Eden marks another major project on the docket for the star, who is also slated to appear in Christopher Nolan‘s juggernaut Oppenheimer, Dune Part 2, and in the upcoming Olivia Wilde-helmed Don’t Worry Darling opposite Chris Pine and Harry Styles.
As for Kazan, the limited series is a big step forward in her writing career. Her previous features, Ruby Sparks and Wildlife, featured some high profile talent like Paul Dano and Jake Gyllenhaal, but she hasn’t done anything major for television. She’s still best known for her acting career which includes her acclaimed turn in Oliver Kitteridge. She’ll next appear in the #MeToo piece She Said.
East of Eden will next look to cast its Trask family and find a director. We’ll have more here at Collider as production gets underway on this high-profile adaptation.