Mar 5, 2015

Tradecraft: Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander, and Elizabeth Debicki Join Le Carre's Night Manager

Deadline reports that Olivia Colman (Broadchurch), Tom Hollander (The Company) and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s Elizabeth Debicki have all joined the cast of the BBC/AMC John le Carré miniseries The Night Manager. They join previously announced stars Hugh Laurie (Spooks/MI-5) and Tom Hiddleston (Marvel's The Avengers) in the Susanne Bier-directed adaptation. Debicki will play the crucial role of le Carré's "equestrienne," Jed, the mistress and kept woman of peer of the realm/arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper (Laurie). Hiddleston's character, former soldier and hotelier turned undercover agent Jonathan Pine, can't help falling madly in love with the aloof English rose in a relationship that recalls that of Jerry Westerby and Lizzie Worthington in The Honourable Schoolboy. Hollander will play Roper's suspicious majordomo, former military man "Corky" Corcoran. (The snake-like, sexually ambiguous Corky should offer a scene stealing opportunity for Hollander.) Colman, finally, will take on the role of Burr, the hardworking, much put upon spymaster who recruits Pine for his dangerous undercover mission. Readers of the book will immediately detect something a bit odd about that casting, as Leonard Burr is most assuredly male in the 1993 novel. (In fact, Colman's Broadchurch co-star David Tennant might have been perfect as that version of the character.) Still, it's not hard to imagine Colman as the embattled Burr, scion of Whitehall and the Intelligence Community for her dogged pursuit of justice. In fact, the gender swap (presumably the decision of writer David Farr) might further highlight Burr's ostracism in the Boys' Club atmosphere of Whitehall Intelligence mavens who are all in bed with Roper through dodgy financial ties. (And there are presumably more women in such jobs now than there were in the early Nineties.) The Night Manager is a reversal of the Enforcement vs. Pure Intelligence conflict of The Honourable Schoolboy. Whereas in that story Smiley found his goals of recruiting a long-term asset threatened by DEA agents who preferred a big arrest, Burr's Enforcement agent can't stomach the Intelligence operatives who would gladly keep a big-time criminal at large so long as he tosses them an occasional bone. The Night Manager will air in 2016, becoming the first le Carré TV adaptation in twenty-five years.

5 comments:

Dylan said...

The Night Manager has always seemed to me one of le Carré’s most adaptable books, and I had hoped to see it on television immediately after I first read the book.

Leonard Burr is among my favorite le Carré characters. In the 1993 production that happened in my head, Robbie Coltrane would have been a perfect choice for Burr (Patrick Stewart seemed like a good fit for Roper). I think Olivia Coleman will do a terrific job, but there’s a tiny part of me that’s sad that I’ll never see Robbie Coltrane do it.

Tanner said...

I agree. I loved the character in the book, and as good as I'm sure this will be, part of me will always slightly regret not having it adapted as is. And that's a GREAT call on Coltrane! I used to think Ian Holm, but Coltrane's better. I wouldn't have pictured Tennant physically for the role, but my mind went to him automatically from Colman and Broadchurch, and I could definitely see him in his Broadchurch vein pulling it off. But Coltrane's the best!

Now the only major adult role left to cast is Rex Goodhew. The obvious choice would seem to me to be another Colman co-star--2012's Hugh Bonneville. But maybe he's TOO obvious. And obviously it would depend on his Downtown schedule.

Ray De Maio said...

I am beside myself. I love the novel, and I can't wait. I always pictured a 1990's Pearce Brosnan as Roper. His malevolence in The Tailor of Panama blew me away.

Ray De Maio said...

I am beside myself. I love the novel, and I can't wait. I always pictured a 1990's Pearce Brosnan as Roper. His malevolence in The Tailor of Panama blew me away.

Tanner said...

Yes! You're right; Brosnan would have (and still would) be great in that role! For me, THE TAILOR OF PANAMA remains his finest hour. Very much looking forward to Laurie in the role though!