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When people talk about books that are seemingly longer than life itself, Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace is generally the punchline of choice, and the BBC is teaming up with The Weinstein Company to bring this massive tale to life in miniseries format. First announced last year, the six-part project has cast quite a few actors to fill the plethora of roles, with Paul Dano (12 Years a Slave) and Lily James (Downton Abbey) leading the pack.
The universally acclaimed War and Peace, first published in 1869, takes place during the French invasion of Russia, and centers on five aristocrat families as they’re experiencing it all. It’s one of the most important written works in history, and has also been adapted several times over the years on both the big and small screen. Emmy voters should get ready for this.
Ade Edmondson (Holby City) is set to play Count Rostov, with Greta Scacchi (The Trojan Horse) set to play his wife, the Countess. James is set to play their daughter Natasha, while James Norton (Belle) will play her lover Prince Andrei. Dano is set to play Natasha’s friend Pierre Bezukhov, who unexpectedly receives a giant inheritance and suddenly finds himself quite popular.
The cast will be rounded out by Stephen Rea (Underworld: Awakening) as Prince Kuragin, Jack Lowden (The Tunnel) as Nikolai Rostov, Aisling Loftus (Mr. Selfridge) as Sonya and Tom Burke (The Hour) as Dolokhov.
Putting this version of War and Peace together is Bridget Jones screenwriter Andrew Davies, who won Emmy Awards for writing the original British version of House of Cards and the 2008 miniseries Little Dorritt. He was also the guy behind the acclaimed Pride and Prejudice and Vanity Fair miniseries, as well as a slew of other things over his storied career. Here’s how he described the project to the BBC.
Three characters [are] at the center: Pierre, the bumbling, chaotic idealist; Prince Andrei, whose cool Darcy-like exterior conceals huge emotional conflict; and Natasha Rostova, possibly the most appealing heroine in literature.
So for anyone thinking that this is just going to be a huffy stuffy miniseries, let’s not forget about that surprising amount of comedy.
No premiere date for War and Peace has been set just yet, but it’s likely the miniseries will come to the BBC and an undetermined U.S. network by the end of the year, assuming the production doesn’t include an actual war.