Epix is diving into the story of a famed outlaw.
The MGM-backed premium cable network has handed out a straight-to-series order for drama Billy the Kid.
From prolific writer-producer Michael Hirst (Elizabeth, The Tudors, Vikings), the eight-episode drama is described as an epic romantic adventure based on the life of the famed American outlaw Billy the Kid (aka William H. Bonney). The series, which is poised to begin production in June in Calgary, follows Billy the Kid from his humble Irish roots to his early days as a cowboy and gunslinger in the American frontier to his pivotal role in the Lincoln County War and beyond. A search is under way for an actor to star. Otto Bathurst (Halo, Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror) will direct the first two episodes.
“Michael Hirst has created a series that will take the audience on an entirely unexpected, thrilling ride, turning what they thought they knew about this iconic character on its head,” said Epix president Michael Wright. “We can’t wait to see how this talented creative team unfolds this story and brings it to life for our viewers.”
Billy the Kid is a co-production between Epix Studios and MGM International Television Productions and Nordic Entertainment Groups’ streamer Viaplay. In addition to writing, Hirst will exec produce alongside Donald De Line and Amblin Television’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
The series reunites Hirst with MGM, joining Netflix’s upcoming Vikings spinoff, Vikings: Valhalla. Billy is also the fourth series from MGM International TV Productions and second overall at Epix, joining sci-fi horror entry From. The news comes as Wright was recently installed as president of MGM Television as Epix, like other networks and streamers, looks to own more of its content.
“Billy the Kid has always been a hero of mine since I was — well, a kid!” Hirst said. “I grew up in the North of England but it made no difference! Billy was a special kind of outlaw. For a start he was so young — and for another thing, he wasn’t a psychopath who enjoyed killing, nor a criminal who robbed for material gain. He was an outlaw most of his life, but he never wanted to be. Born into a poor Irish family of immigrants, he always wanted to go straight, to be a ‘new American.’ But he was never allowed to. Billy’s story is much more than a fantastic drama about a charismatic cowboy — although it is that! It’s also the story of the immigrant, and the story of the creation of the new America from the lawless, violent chaos of the midwest and its many nations. So, in the end it’s not just a story at all — it’s an American myth!”
Billy the Kid is the latest series in the works for Hirst, joining Vikings: Valhalla, which moved from A+E Studios/A&E to Netflix as an original series from MGM Television. He’s also readying limited series The Plague Year for History and a Great Gatsby TV show.
For Epix, Billy the Kid joins a rapidly growing roster of scripted originals that also includes Godfather of Harlem, Stephen King’s Chapelwaite, War of the Worlds, Bridge and Tunnel, Condor and Pennyworth, the latter of which may also air on HBO Max.
Hirst is repped by WME, United Agents and Nelson Davis.