In 2019, British illustrator, artist, and author Charlie Mackesy took the world by storm as he released his acclaimed book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. Since its release, the book has received high praise from publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and more. It has sold over one million copies and quickly became a #1 NYT bestseller, as well as earning the Book of the Year award from Barnes & Noble. News of an adaptation had been swirling around for some time now, and recently, Variety announced that Apple has landed the animated short film adaptation of the book.
The book follows its four title characters, “a curious boy, a greedy mole, a wary fox and a wise horse” who journey across wide terrain with each other in order to find a place the boy can call home. As they travel, the quad shares their fears and discoveries with one another, offering readers a story about “vulnerability, kindness, hope, friendship and love.” Mackesy has been lauded for creating a book with appeal for all readers, young and old, that provides universal messages readers can walk away with and apply to their own lives.
Along with the acquisition, Variety revealed the voice cast for the animated short. Tom Hollander (Feud), Idris Elba (Three Thousand Years of Longing), and Gabriel Byrne will star as the mole, the fox, and the horse, respectively. There’s currently no word on who will voice the boy. Nevertheless, the current trio offers exciting things to look forward to with the adaptation. All have previously done voice over work and viewers can rest easy knowing they’re a part of the short film.
The international rights are now owned by Apple Original Films with the short film set to debut this Christmas on Apple TV+, the streamer behind award-winning projects such as Ted Lasso and CODA. J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek) is producing alongside Cara Speller, Matthew Freud, and Bad Robot‘s Hannah Minghella. Jony Ive and Woody Harrelson executive produce, with Isobel Waller-Bridge composing the score.
In a statement to Variety, Mackesy said,
“The journey of making the film of ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ with my incredibly gifted animation team has been a magical one. I never dreamt it would happen — but it’s so moving to think the story will be watched at Christmas. I really hope it brings a bit of joy, laughter and comfort.”
“Bringing together some of the finest artists and animators from around the world to present Charlie’s beautiful characters has proved a true highlight during the last few difficult years. We hope we’ve done it justice for those who already love the book, and for everyone else we hope you’ll find some kindness and comfort here.”
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is set to premiere on Apple TV+ on December 25. UK viewers will be able to watch it on BBC One and Player.