Keira Knightley to Lead Apple TV+ Period Drama ‘The Essex Serpent’

     August 24, 2020


Keira Knightley is set to make a return to the world of television with a lead role in the Apple TV+ show The Essex Serpent. Knightley’s past TV roles are minimal, appearing in 2002’s Doctor Zhivago mini-series and the 2011 Syfy mini-series Neverland.


Image via Shout! Studios

On Monday, we learned Knightley had been tapped to star in The Essex Serpent. Adapted from Sarah Perry‘s 2016 British Book Award-winning novel of the same name, the series will follow Cora (Knightley) “who, having being released from an abusive marriage, relocates from Victorian London to the small village of Aldwinter in Essex, intrigued by a local superstition that a mythical creature known as the Essex Serpent has returned to the area.”

The Essex Serpent sounds like a return to form for Knightley. As the star of period dramas including Atonement and the more recent Misbehaviour, donning some era-specific clothing and sinking all the way into a moody story is a perfect fit for Knightley. It will be an interesting exercise for the Academy Award-nominated actor as she tests her skills leading a TV show, which is both new and exciting territory for her. That said, this show — and Knightley — sounds like a great get for Apple TV+ as the nascent streamer expands the range of its original offerings.

No further casting on The Essex Serpent has been announced, nor do we have an expected filming start date. However, Apple TV+ has revealed Clio Barnard (The Arbor) will direct with Anna Symon (Mrs. Wilson) set to write. In addition to starring, Knightley will serve as an executive producer alongside Barnard, Symon, Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Patrick Walters, Iain Canning, and Emile Sherman. Additionally, Andrea Cornwell will produce.

We’ll keep you posted on developments around The Essex Serpent as they come in. For now, get even more Apple TV+ updates here.

Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.