James McAvoy may not have shared the screen yet with Logan star Dafne Keen in the X-Men movie franchise, but the actor behind a young Professor Xavier is getting his chance now on the small screen. McAvoy has officially joined the cast of BBC One’s His Dark Materials TV series, EW has learned.
The X-Men: Dark Phoenix star will take the role of Lord Asriel, a character portrayed by Daniel Craig in 2007’s The Golden Compass. Asriel is the ruthless adventurer father of Lyra (Keen), an orphan girl who lives in a parallel universe to ours — one where the souls of humans exist outside their bodies as talking animal companions.
They’ll be joined by Ruth Wilson (Showtime’s The Affair) as Marisa Coulter, the mysterious character played by Nicole Kidman in the original film, and Clarke Peters (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) as the master who raises Lyra.
BBC One and Bad Wolf, which is producing the series with New Line Cinema, declined to comment on the casting.
The eight-part His Dark Materials is based on the book trilogy by author Philip Pullman, who is also involved in the series’ development. What began with The Golden Compass continued with The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. The story follows Lyra as she seeks to track down a missing friend, though the mission leads her to discover a sinister plot involving kidnapped children. Her journey becomes even more expansive when she learns of parallel universes and the mysterious substance known as Dust.
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) will direct the series, which also stars Lin-Manuel Miranda as adventurer Lee Scoresby, as Deadline previously reported.
Keen gained international recognition playing the young mutant X-23 in the R-rated Logan, which starred Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Aside from X-Men, McAvoy will also reprise his Split character in M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass, and he’ll portray an older Bill Denbrough in It: Chapter 2.
“In recent years we’ve seen the way that long stories on television, whether adaptations (Game Of Thrones) or original (The Sopranos, The Wire), can reach depths of characterization and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel,” Pullman said in an earlier statement. “And the sheer talent now working in the world of long-form television is formidable. For all those reasons I’m delighted at the prospect of a television version of His Dark Materials. I’m especially pleased at the involvement of Jane Tranter, whose experience, imagination, and drive are second to none. As for the BBC, it has no stronger supporter than me. I couldn’t be more pleased with this news.”
This article has been updated with casting information on Ruth Wilson.