'Carol' and 'Happy Valley' Producers Teaming on 'Portrait of a Lady' TV Adaptation

Rooney Mara Carol  - H 2016

StudioCanal will look after worldwide distribution of the adaptation of Henry James' 1881 novel.

Number 9 Films, behind the recent Cate Blanchett- and Rooney Mara-starring indie hit Carol, has revealed its first TV project.

Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley's London-based outfit is teaming up with long-established TV banner Red Production Company, producers of the acclaimed Happy Valley series, on an adaptation of Henry James' 1881 novel Portrait of a Lady.

Karlsen and Woolley will exec produce alongside Red's founder, Nicola Shindler. StudioCanal, which owns a controlling stake in Red, will handle worldwide distribution.

The noted coming-of age-romance centers on Isabel Archer, who, after leaving America for Old World Europe, finds herself rejecting marriage proposals in favor of a life of independence. But when she inherits an unexpected fortune, Archer falls prey to two Machiavellian schemers and is lured into a marriage with unfortunate consequences. It was first published as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly and Macmillan's Magazine.

"We believe we share a sensibility with Nicola of being drawn towards material with complex and compelling female lead characters, which is one of the defining elements of Portrait of a Lady," said Karlsen, adding that she and Woolley had "long been admirers" of Shindler's groundbreaking TV work.

"Elizabeth and Stephen have produced some of the most acclaimed and engaging feature films of recent years, and I am delighted to be working with them on their first television project," added Shindler, named in THR's list of the most powerful women in global TV. "Having been originally published as a monthly serial, and addressing themes of personal freedom, betrayal and modernization, Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady lends itself perfectly to the long-form storytelling that only TV can offer."