From the moment John le Carré’s The Night Manager was published in 1993, producers have tried to bring the spy master’s tale about arms dealing to the big screen.
Robert Towne (Chinatown) penned an adaptation for Sydney Pollack to direct, and in 2009 Brad Pitt’s company, Plan B, optioned the novel. But a film never materialized, and for good reason: time constraints. “This is a fabulous book,” says le Carré’s son, Night Manager exec producer Simon Cornwell. “It’s got a vast scope to it. It just doesn’t fit into two hours.”
The story is finally getting what it deserves as a six-episode miniseries that will air on the BBC in the U.K. and on AMC this April, starring Tom Hiddleston as MI-6 field agent and strong-silent type Jonathan Pine and Hugh Laurie as Richard Roper, a morally ambiguous weapons dealer whom Pine is tasked with bringing down.
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“The best way I can describe the story is the thriller equivalent of a bromance,” says exec producer Stephen Garrett (Eastern Promises).
That isn’t to say that The Night Manager is female-free — updating the story for 2016, the producers gender-flipped the role of Pine’s MI-6 handler, Leonard Burr, into Angela Burr (Olivia Colman). Interestingly enough, after Colman won the role, she informed producers that she was pregnant and would be throughout filming, but instead of hiding the baby bump or potentially recasting, the scripts were retooled to make Burr a mother-to-be.
Fittingly, Hiddleston and Laurie formed a bromance of their own during the project’s development and over the course of the intensive 75-day shoot, which took them to Morocco, Majorca, Switzerland, and London.
“[Laurie] can’t address me by my real name,” Hiddleston says. “I sign off emails to him as ‘Pine,’ and he addresses me as ‘Pine.’ I don’t know why, but it makes us laugh.”