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Benedict Cumberbatch is set to star in a TV adaptation of Matt Haig’s best-selling novel How to Stop Time, playing the lead role of Tom Hazard.
Tomas Alfredson, who directed Cumberbatch in 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, is attached to helm the six-part series. DC Moore (Sky and AMC’s upcoming Mary & George, starring Julianne Moore) is attached to write, adapting Haig’s novel for the screen.
The genre-bending novel, part love story, part spy thriller, follows Tom (Cumberbatch), a seemingly ordinary man who suffers from a very rare condition called anageria, which has kept him alive for centuries. Throughout history, Tom and men and women like him, have been feared, misunderstood and persecuted. Their lives are one of perpetual loss, as they see family, friends, lovers and children die before them. To survive, those with anageria have formed a secret society to protect their own, but also to enforce strict rules of behavior. The first rule, and the one Tom threatens to break: never fall in love.
“When I first read How to Stop Time, the potential of this story was immediately obvious,” said Cumberbatch. “In his inimitable style, Matt once again explores what it is to be human and what it is to live a life — a very long one in this case — with pathos, insight, humor, drama and inspiration. I am so thrilled to be reuniting with Tomas Alfredson, who is the perfect person to capture the scale, tension and sense of humor alive in DC Moore’s adaptation.”
Haig added: “Benedict Cumberbatch is the dream person to play Tom Hazard and was always who I pictured in my mind. And Tomas Alfredson is the ideal director for this story. The whole team is incredible, and it is so great to feel a story is in the best possible hands.”
How to Stop Time has been in development at StudioCanal for some time and was initially planned as a feature film.
StudioCanal and Cumberbatch’s Sunnymarch will produce the series, which will shoot in London and Europe next year.
StudioCanal, a producer on Tinker Tailor Solder Spy, also adapted Haig’s children’s novel A Boy Called Christmas for the 2021 feature film of the same name from director Gil Kenan. The studio is in active development on an adaptation of Haig’s 2020 novel The Midnight Library.
StudioCanal CEO Anna Marsh unveiled the project during her keynote speech at the MIPTV international television conference Monday. “We are delighted to be reuniting with our friends and long-term collaborators [on] this hugely exciting and ambitious new series,” said Marsh. “We can’t get wait to get started.”
Marsh also confirmed that StudioCanal has taken an equity stake in London-based Strong Film & Television, the small-screen outfit run by Broadchurch director James Strong, former BBC and Paramount executive Matt Tombs and veteran British producer Loretta Preece (Casualty).
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