It’s official: Daniel Craig is heading to television. The actor signed on to lead an adaptation of the Jonathan Franzen novel Purity as part of a prestige package earlier this year, and now Showtime has officially given the limited series a two-season, 20-episode order with filming set to get underway in 2017. The formidable talent has In the Bedroom and Little Children filmmaker Todd Field writing and executive producing, and he will also direct every episode. Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, David Hare, and Franzen himself are executive producers on the series, with Franzen and Hare also pitching in as writers. So, yeah, this is kind of a big deal.
Franzen’s novel is a complex piece of literary fiction, and is officially described thusly:
PURITY is a morally complex story of youthful idealism, extreme loyalty and cold-blooded murder. Jonathan Franzen’s intricately plotted novel is populated by characters both hungry for the truth and desperate to hide it. From STASI offspring to Oakland anarchists, Franzen tracks his characters’ landscapes as varied as East Berlin, the Bolivian jungle, East Harlem walk-ups, and the California Redwoods. PURITY is at once supremely ambitious in scope and intensely intimate in its treatment of character – a decades-spanning tragicomedy that builds to a contemporary climax.
It has yet to be confirmed, but one assumes Craig will be playing the charismatic leader Andreas Wolf in the series, which Rudin shopped to a number of other networks including Netflix before settling on Showtime. This isn’t the first Franzen adaptation to be set up at a prestige network, but Noah Baumbach’s HBO pilot for The Corrections was never picked up to series despite an all-star cast. Purity doesn’t have to worry about that—this is a straight-to-series order, so this is definitely happening.
But this news also has implications for Craig’s role in the James Bond franchise, as word has been heating up recently about major changes for the next installment. A 20-episode limited series is a huge commitment and will likely take up a large chunk of Craig’s 2017, and coming on the heels of news that Tom Hiddleston has had discussions with producers about taking over as Bond, as has Jamie Bell, it’s looking more and more likely that Spectre was Craig’s final outing as 007. Unlike Pierce Brosnan’s surprising ousting, one imagines there’s no love lost here given that Craig said he’d rather slit his wrists than make another Bond movie, and he’s doing just fine venturing into exciting territory as a performer, recently signing on to Steven Soderbergh’s new film Logan Lucky.
So yeah, Craig is probably Bond no more, but that seems like the best possible outcome for all involved. Especially given the promising nature of Purity, which bolsters Showtime’s original series lineup even further as they’ve also got the return of Twin Peaks on tap for 2017. Watch your back, HBO.