With some of the best programming on TV right now (and just about every year), HBO will always grab eyes and headlines when they announce a new project, and their latest one will take viewers back to the expansion of the United States of America. The network has ordered the six-part historical miniseries Lewis and Clark, which will bring Oscar-nominated actor Casey Affleck to the first major TV role of his career. Where you at, Ben?
Affleck will take on the part of explorer Captain Meriwether Lewis, while The Drop star Matthias Schoenaerts will play Second Lieutenant William Clark. The men are renowned for their legendary expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific coast, at a time when you couldn’t just take a quick flight into Portland International Airport. They traveled through uncharted lands, preaching the message of sovereignty to all of the unfamiliar tribes and natives that they came across. I can’t wait to see the cinematography on this thing.
The miniseries will be based on Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West, the 1997 nonfiction look at Lewis and Clark’s travels as written by Stephen Ambrose. If you’re going to fictionalize one of the most important events in our country’s history, you might as well get the most definitive retelling of the story.
Affleck and Schoenaerts aren’t the only big names attached to this project, either, although they’re the only ones we know will be on screen at this point. The all-star team of producers for Lewis and Clark includes Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, and Edward Norton, along with Gary Goetszman (Game Change), Dede Gardner (The Normal Heart), Tim Kelly and Adam Leipzig. Norton co-wrote the adaptation with John Curran (The Painted Veil) and Michelle Ashford (The Pacific), with Curran serving as director for all six episodes.
Schoenaerts, who also gave an acclaimed performance in Rust and Bone, will be seen later this year in the period drama Far from the Madding Crowd and the crime mystery A Bigger Splash with Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton. Affleck, meanwhile, is coming off of a weird turn in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, and his upcoming slate includes John Hillcoat’s star-studded crime drama Triple Nine and the Coast Guard thriller The Finest Hours with Chris Pine.
HBO is gearing up to bring its standalone service to the world, and will soon be a ratings monger when Game of Thrones kicks off Season 5. I wonder what Lewis and Clark would have thought of Westeros.
Production on Lewis and Clark is scheduled to begin this summer.