Tom Hiddleston, Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Bassett, and Maya Erskine Cast in New TV Series
Plus Talisa Garcia becomes the first trans actress to be cast in a Lucasfilm show.
Someone apparently decided that today was TV casting news day!
Still, there is a lot of TV casting to report, so let’s kick off with Loki’s return to the small screen. Well, actually, it’s Tom Hiddleston, who is now attached to his second Apple TV+ series following upcoming drama ‘The Essex Serpent’.
‘The White Darkness’ comes from another Apple veteran, ‘Pachinko’ creator Soo Hugh, who will run the show alongside ‘Strange Angel’s Mark Heyman.
The series is inspired by the true-life account of Henry Worsley, played by Hiddleston, a devoted husband and father, a former soldier, a man of deep honor and sacrifice, but also a man deeply obsessed with adventure, manifesting in an epic journey crossing Antarctica on foot.
Deadline’s report offers no details on when the show will start shooting, but there’s a fair chance that it’ll have to wait until after the next season of ‘Loki’ is filmed.
Next up, there’s a development on the TV version of movie spy thriller ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’, which had been moving ahead with Donald Glover and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, at least until the latter left over creative differences.
Now, though the actress and writer has been replaced by someone who similarly broke big by writing and starring in a show: ‘Pen15’s Maya Erskine will star opposite Glover in the story of married agents whose marriage is strained because they’re both so busy. That gets even more complicated when they discover that they’ve been contracted to eliminate each other.
The Oscar winner, who has recently been seen reprising one of her iconic small screen characters, Guinan, on ‘Star Trek: Picard’, has signed on to play the villainous Bird Woman in the fantasy series.
‘Anansi Boys’ is the story of Charlie Nancy (Malachi Kirby) — sometimes known as Fat Charlie (it was his father’s nickname for him; he’s not fat) — a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father (Delroy Lindo). But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that he was Anansi: Trickster God of stories. And he learns that he has a brother. Now that brother, Spider (also played by Kirby), is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting — but making it a lot more dangerous instead.
Goldberg’s Bird Woman is, as her name might suggest, the God of Birds. Bird Woman is the God of Birds and a key antagonist in the series. Anyone who’s had a close encounter with a seagull knows that some birds are more dangerous than others, and Bird Woman is the most dangerous of them all. Long ago Anansi did her wrong. Now may be her chance to turn the tables.
“I have been a fan of this book for a very long time and when Neil Gaiman told me it was being brought to the screen, I did everything I could to be part of it to help make people aware of Anansi and all his magic,” Goldberg says in a statement.
According to Gaiman, it was a fortuitous meeting that led to Goldberg’s casting. “When I first conceived ‘Anansi Boys,’ decades ago, I imagined Whoopi Goldberg as Bird Woman,” Gaiman said. “I wasn’t able to meet her until 2018, when she interviewed me with some of the ‘Good Omens’ team at New York Comic Con. At which point she mentioned that she had just finished listening to Sir Lenny Henry’s reading of ‘Anansi Boys,’ and that it was one of her favorite books. Sometimes things feel planned and inevitable, and we are incredibly lucky. She’s going to be scary.”
And she’s not the only mythic creature the Nancy family will have to worry about. Alongside Goldberg, the cast now includes Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Tiger, Emmanuel Ighodaro as Lion, Cecilia Noble playing Elephant, Ayanna Witter-Johnson as Snake and Don Gilet playing Monkey.
The various animal deities all have their own reasons for disliking Anansi – they mostly hate him for his trickster behavior, though Monkey is terrified of him.
Gaiman and co-showrunner Douglas MacKinnon (who worked alongside him on ‘Good Omens’ and its sequel series) are busy making the show in Scotland now.
On to Netflix next, where the casting is movie related, but we’re keeping it here since it’ll debut on the streaming service. And it’s another fantasy title, this time with Angela Bassettjoining ‘Damsel’.
The movie will star Netflix stalwart Millie Bobby Brown, who plays a princess is shocked to discover that she’ll be sacrificed to the kingdom’s sacred cave dragon, after being married to her prince charming. She must survive long enough until someone comes to save her – only no one is coming.
Bassett will play Lady Bayford, the stepmother to Brown’s Elodie, while Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is directing from a script by Dan Mazeau.
Heading right back around to Apple, there’s word that Andre Holland will play Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton, who was able to escape a massive, nationwide manhunt to avoid prosecution for murder with the help of Bert Schneider, the Hollywood producer behind ‘Easy Rider’, as well as a few other celebrity radicals.
Newton ended up in Cuba and his story was told in a Playboy article by Joshuah Bearman. Now ‘Claws’ showrunner Janine Sherman Barrois is working on a six-part limited series adaptation called ‘The Big Cigar’, which has Don Cheadle amongst its producers (and serving as director for the first two episodes).
And finally, we head to Disney+, where Lucasfilm is making history by casting an openly trans actor in one of its productions.
In this case, Britain’s Talisa Garcia has been cast in ‘Willow’ as a queen, the mother to Tony Revolori’s character.
The ‘Willow’ series, which is set in the same universe as the 1988 fantasy movie, follows a princess who assembles a party to join her on a quest to rescue her twin brother. Warwick Davis is reprising his role as the title character.
And before you think this is Disney looking to generate some positive press in the wake of the “Don’t Say Gay” controversy over Florida politics, Garcia’s casting happened months ago, and the show is now in post-production for a planned launch this year.