Claire Danes to Replace Keira Knightley in Apple's 'Essex Serpent'

Claire Danes
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Claire Danes is taking on the lead role in Apple's drama series The Essex Serpent.

The former Homeland star takes over for Keira Knightley, who was cast in the project last year but later dropped out, citing concerns around a rise in novel coronavirus cases in the U.K.

The Essex Serpent is based on an award-winning novel by Sarah Perry. Danes will play Cora, a recently widowed woman who, having been released from an abusive marriage, relocates from Victorian London to the small village of Aldwinter in Essex. There she becomes intrigued by a local superstition that a mythical creature known as the Essex Serpent has returned to the area.

Anna Symon (Mrs. Wilson) is adapting Perry's book and will serve as lead writer on the project, and Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant, Dark River) will direct. Both are executive producing alongside Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Patrick Walters, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman. Andrea Cornwell produces.

See-Saw Films (Ammonite, Top of the Lake) is producing the series for Apple.

The Essex Serpent will be the first series for Danes since Homeland wrapped its eight-season run on Showtime in April 2020. She won three Emmys for playing CIA operative Carrie Mathison on the series. Danes is repped by Michael Aglion at Signpost, WME and Ziffren Brittenham.