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Film actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead is successfully making the transition into television. After fielding offers this past pilot season, she’s joined the cast of upcoming A&E series The Returned, and will have a prominent role in the series. The actress is set to play a character named Rowan, a young woman who lost her partner, Simon, a decade before the events in The Returned will start. Additionally, Sandrine Holt and Agnes Bruckner have also taken roles in The Returned.
The news broke on Friday, with Deadline noting that Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s casting shouldn’t be a huge shock. The actress is mostly known for taking small roles in big budget movies like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and small indie fare like Smashed. Her career over the last five years has shown audiences a capable actress who will probably never be a true blue movie star. However, moving to TV should afford the actress the opportunity to take on leading roles in stories that are just as interesting as what the big screen can offer. And with several other big names on board, The Returned seems like a pretty good bet.
The Returned is a drama that is headed to A&E with Lost producer Carlton Cuse attached to write the first episode and True Blood’s Raelle Tucker on board to write and executive produce. It’s also a remake of the critically admired French series Les Revenants, which has aired on the Sundance Channel in the U.S. The French version is expected to produce a second season, soon, but here in the States it shouldn’t be as high profile as A&E’s new drama. 10 episodes of the series are expected to air, and production on The Returned will begin this summer.
So far, The Returned is shaping up to be much like its predecessor. The show is about a small town that is faced with a challenge when a slew of formerly dead people show up, walking and talking. We already know Lost actor Mark Pellegrino has signed on. He’ll play a parent still grieving after a horrible bus accident, an incident that also occurs during Les Revenants. Sophie Lowe has also been slotted to play Lena, one of Pellegrino’s daughters in the series—a character who also pops up in the original. Now Winstead is set to play a character similar to Les Revenants' Adele. Clearly, A&E has an opportunity to take The Returned in a brand new direction, but that may not be the direction the network wants to take.
Which is fine by me. I personally find Les Revenants to be a compelling and eerie drama and would be fine seeing the same story told from a less European perspective. It seems we will still have a while to wait before we have any idea how The Returned will pan out. As the show moves into production, we’ll let you know if any other big names get cast.