From the moment John le Carré’s The Night Manager was published in 1993, producers have tried to bring the spy master’s tale about arms dealing to the big screen.
Robert Towne (Chinatown) penned an adaptation for Sydney Pollack to direct, and in 2009 Brad Pitt’s company, Plan B, optioned the novel. But a film never materialized, and for good reason: time constraints. “This is a fabulous book,” says le Carré’s son, Night Manager exec producer Simon Cornwell. “It’s got a vast scope to it. It just doesn’t fit into two hours.”
The story is finally getting what it deserves as a six-episode miniseries that will air on the BBC in the U.K. and on AMC this April, starring Tom Hiddleston as MI-6 field agent and strong-silent type Jonathan Pine and Hugh Laurie as Richard Roper, a morally ambiguous weapons dealer whom Pine is tasked with bringing down.
“The best way I can describe the story is the thriller equivalent of a bromance,” says exec producer Stephen Garrett (Eastern Promises).
That isn’t to say that The Night Manager is female-free — updating the story for 2016, the producers gender-flipped the role of Pine’s MI-6 handler, Leonard Burr, into Angela Burr (Olivia Colman). Interestingly enough, after Colman won the role, she informed producers that she was pregnant and would be throughout filming, but instead of hiding the baby bump or potentially recasting, the scripts were retooled to make Burr a mother-to-be.
Fittingly, Hiddleston and Laurie formed a bromance of their own during the project’s development and over the course of the intensive 75-day shoot, which took them to Morocco, Majorca, Switzerland, and London.
“[Laurie] can’t address me by my real name,” Hiddleston says. “I sign off emails to him as ‘Pine,’ and he addresses me as ‘Pine.’ I don’t know why, but it makes us laugh.”-Entertainment Weekly
The BBC have today released the first promotional pictures for their new adpatiation of John le Carré’s 1993 thriller, The Night Manager, set to be broadcast on BBC One later this year starring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie.
A contemporary interpretation of le Carré’s 1993 novel – and the first television adaptation of a le Carré novel in more than 20 years – The Night Manager mini-series will bring together love, loss and revenge in a complex story of modern criminality. The eagerly anticipated series follows former British soldier Jonathan Pine (Hiddleston) who is recruited by an intelligence operative named Burr (Colman) to navigate the shadowy recesses of Whitehall and Washington where an unholy alliance operates between the intelligence community and the secret arms trade. To infiltrate the inner circle of lethal arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper (Laurie), which includes girlfriend Jed (Debicki) and an associate named Corcoran (Hollander), Pine must himself become a criminal.
The Night Manager is one of le Carré’s most beloved and critically acclaimed books. A fusion of spy story and tale of organised crime, the novel was a bestseller in the United States and the UK, translated into over 20 languages and has sold over a million copies in North America alone.
With thanks to the BBC.
The Night Manager, adapted by the BBC and due to be screened later this year, will star Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Debicki, Olivia Colman and Tom Hollander Photo: Mitch Jenkins/The Ink Factory/AM
It is the first television adaptation of a John le Carre novel for 20 years and in a treat for fans, the BBC production of The Night Manager even features a cameo appearance by the writer himself.
But the real surprise in store is that the character of the leading man has been transformed into a leading woman.
New pictures of the drama, the first time the Le Carre novel has ever been adapted for the small screen, were released today.
'Not only did they have to rethink the gender of the character, but also incorporate the fact that she is pregnant'
Olivia Colman has been cast in the role of the main role, Burr, in a bid to bring the story up to date and to add a new chemistry between Burr and Roper, played by Richard Onslow.
“Angela Burr was initially written as a man in the book, so not only did they have to rethink the gender of the character, but also incorporate the fact that she is pregnant,” said Colman, who filmed the role while expecting her third child, a daughter who was born in August.
Susanne Bier, the show’s director, said: “We had decided that Burr should be played by a woman, rather than a man as in the book, because we thought there was an exciting chemistry between a woman and a man engaging in the power struggle that Roper and Burr have.”
John le Carré (pointing) makes a cameo appearance in a restaurant scene filmed in Mallorca
The switch of genders comes after Emma Rice, the new artistic director of the Globe theatre in London, announced that she will be renaming an upcoming production of Cymbeline to Imogen to highlight the role of Cymbeline’s daughter.
"Imogen speaks three times more lines than Cymbeline so it really is her story,” Rice said last week. “We are saying women have a strong narrative in these plays."
Instead of being based in South and Central America, the new le Carre adaptation will be set in the Middle East in the age of the Arab Spring in Cairo, with Hugh Laurie taking the role of Richard Onslow Roper and Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine.
Not only has Le Carre offered his approval for the changes, he is so enthused he has appeared as an extra in the television drama.
'I’d worshipped le Carré since I was a teenager, but this story, in particular, I found endlessly intriguing, powerful and romantic, mythic almost'
Photographs from set show him dining with Roper and Pine in a Mallorcan restaurant, dressed in a smart suit.
The adaptation, due to be shown later this year, will tell the story of a former soldier-turned hotel night manager, who becomes embroiled in arms dealing, murder and the British intelligence service.
Hugh Laurie had vowed to make the book an adaptation for years, after reading the novel when it was first released.
He said: “I fell in love with this book when I first read it back in 1993. I’d worshipped le Carré since I was a teenager, but this story, in particular, I found endlessly intriguing, powerful and romantic, mythic almost.”
It was filmed in locations including Mallorca, Morocco, London and Devon, with a newly-released group photograph showing a very modern cast.
Colman had already been signed up for the show before she announced she was pregnant
The scriptwriters adapted the storyline to fit in with her circumstances, with the actress clearly pregnant in publicity shots.
The original Burr is introduced in the novel as a no-nonsense. Le Carre describes him as “an artist and a rebel … When he troubled to dress himself for an occasion, he only contrived to look more disreputable than when he wasn’t bothering.”