Disney+ announced the beginning of production, and unveiled the principal cast, of their upcoming Australian period drama adaptation of The Artful Dodger during their Asia-Pacific showcase event in Singapore on Wednesday evening. Headlining the cast are Thomas Brodie-Sangster and David Thewlis.
Thewlis will play Fagin, one of the antagonists of the original Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist, while Brodie-Sangster is taking on the title role, playing the part of Jack Dawkins, who goes by the title of “The Artful Dodger”. The adaptation, which was first announced by Disney back in May, has been described as an international character-driven drama which is set in 1850s Australia, giving it an alternative vibe to the original London-set Dickens tome. The eight-episode mini-series revolves around Dawkins attempting to live a double life, trying to be legitimate while working as a surgeon but struggling to shake off his desire to deceive and return to crime. Disney describes the series as such:
“From high-octane heists to life-and-death surgeries, glittering parties to colorful streets, this series is a rock’n’roll tale with an Aussie connection.”
The Artful Dodger originally appeared as a supporting character, a celebrated anti-hero, in Oliver Twist, known as the most clever thief and most talented pickpocket in Fagin’s gang. Precocious and streetwise, he initially introduces Oliver to Fagin and acts far older than his years. He trains Oliver to become a talented thief in his own right. Ultimately, he is unable to resist temptation and ends up betraying Oliver for his own gain.
Brodie-Sangster originally made his name as a child actor, appearing as Liam Neeson‘s lovestruck stepson in Love Actually, as well as appearing alongside Emma Thompson in Nanny McPhee. As an adult, he appeared in The Maze Runner franchise, as well as Game of Thrones and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for his role in The Queen’s Gambit in 2020. Thewlis is a prolific English actor who has appeared in numerous projects, with his most commercially successful and popular being his role as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter franchise. He will also appear in Avatar 3, which is due to release in 2024.
The series will be produced by Jeffrey Walker, known for his work on Young Rock, The Commons and Modern Family. Walker also directs, alongside Corrie Chen and Gracie Otto.
The series will be filmed in New South Wales, Australia, with financial support provided by the State Government through Screen NSW’s Made In NSW fund. The series is expected to launch on Disney+ in late 2023